Sunday, 9 December 2018

Keep Her Close by Erik Therme

I am delighted to be sharing my review of Keep Her Close by Erik Therme as part of the blog tour. My thanks to Erik, and to Noelle at Bookoutre for inviting me to take part and providing my review copy. 

The Blurb:

Someone took your daughter. And nobody believes you…

Three-year-old Ally was found alone in a parking lot.
She was barefoot and dressed only in a yellow sundress. In the middle of winter.
What kind of person would abandon their daughter?

Fifteen years later and Ally has a new family.
But her real father has sent her a letter.
And now Ally is missing. 

A gripping twist-filled thriller that will have you looking over your shoulder. Perfect for fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and Teresa Driscoll. 

Keep Her Close was published by Bookoutre on 5th December 2018. 

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My Review:

Well, this is a twisty turny one! It's my first taste of Therme's work, but it certainly won't be my last.

The opening scene is desperately sad. A little girl, barefoot and all alone in a multi storey car park. Standing on a dirty piece of cardboard marked with the words 'Free to a good home.' My heart broke.

We then jump years into the future, or rather the present as the opening was in the past. Does that make sense? Anyway, that wee girl is called Ally, is now eighteen and has just moved away from home to go to college. Although now divorced, Ally's adoptive parents Dan and Holly clearly have a very strong love for their daughter. Dan is particularly protective of her.

When she received a letter which seems to be from her birth father, Ally is naturally curious, and keen to meet him. But things very definitely don't go to plan. Dan and Holly can't find their daughter, but they do meet Cal, who tells them he is Ally's boyfriend, and has been encouraging her to find out more about her birth father. Dan is not impressed!

I have read a few books recently featuring teenagers or young adults, and as the mother of two teenagers - boys in my case - there has frequently been a feeling of 'There but by the grace of God go I.' This book was no exception. It was easy to write Ally off as being naive, and her lack of street smarts are referenced a number of times in the book. But imagine you are only eighteen, and although you love your parents fiercely, you have no real sense of who you are or where you come from. I think many of us would react as Ally did when she received a letter from someone claiming to be her real father. Of course she was desperate to find out more.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you much about what happens as it would contain spoilers, but clearly things don't go as Ally imagined they would. Her search for the truth takes her into a series of difficult situations with a seriously disturbed person. In the meantime, father Dan is following boyfriend Cal, determined that he knows more than he's telling. Dan tends to act without thinking, and automatically thinks the worst about everyone he meets in the search for his daughter. So he is also getting himself  into some sticky situations. That frustrated me about him - I really got quite cross with him - but I admired his powerful love for his daughter and their strong father/daughter bond, despite there being no blood ties.

One of the things I loved about this book is that many of characters we meet aren't who we necessarily think they are when we first come across them. These are complex, multi layered folk, and I didn't feel that the 'baddies' were necessarily all bad. There tended to be reasons, however skewed these might be, for their actions. These characters are all so well written, it was easy to feel their anger, grief, loss and joy.

Ally is described perfectly - an intelligent young woman taking her first steps into womanhood, but who also retains her youthful innocence, and tendency to see/look for the best in everyone. I like to think I do that too (but without the youthful innocence, sadly!), but as Ally discovers it can lead to trouble. But I found myself rooting for her all the way through.

In short, I really enjoyed this book. It's well written, certainly tense, and takes us down some blind allies before the really quite messy (action, not writing!) climax . I kept turning the pages because I was desperate to know what happened to Ally. It's a fabulous psychological thriller which intrigues all the way through. But hug your teenagers extra tight tonight, if they'll let you.  

The Author

Erik Therme has thrashed in garage bands, inadvertently harboured runaways, and met Darth Vader. When he’s not at his computer, he can be found cheering for his youngest daughter’s volleyball team, or watching horror movies with his seventeen-year-old. He currently resides in Iowa City, Iowa - one of only twenty places in the world UNESCO has certified as a City of Literature.

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