Today I am sharing my thoughts on Keep Him Close, the brand new domestic noir novel from Emily Koch. My thanks to publisher Vintage Digital who provided an advance copy for review. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
ONE SON LIED. ONE SON DIED.Available from: Amazon | Kobo | Waterstones | Googleplay | Apple Books
Alice’s son is dead. Indigo’s son is accused of murder.
Indigo is determined to prove her beloved Kane is innocent. Searching for evidence, she is helped by a kind stranger who takes an interest in her situation. Little does she know that her new friend has her own agenda.
Alice can’t tell Indigo who she really is. She wants to understand why her son was killed – and she needs to make sure that Indigo’s efforts to free Kane don’t put her remaining family at risk. But how long will it take for Indigo to discover her identity? And what other secrets will come out as she digs deeper?
No one knows a son like his mother. But neither Alice nor Indigo know the whole truth about their boys, and what happened between them on that fateful night.
Keep Him Close is a dark domestic drama from an award-winning writer.
Keep Him Close is the first book I have read by Emily Koch, but having devoured this quite quickly, I’m pretty certain it will not be the last. The book opens with a fairly typical interaction between mother and son, Alice and Lou. Typical that is if there is a clear amount of tension and animosity between the pair. Lou is Alice’s youngest son, seemingly full of confidence, arrogance and a little bit of menace. This clash of wills, the derision that Lou exhibits towards his mother, is the last conversation the pair will have as by the morning, Lou is dead.
Now whilst this is a story about a young man who has lost his life in suspicious and ultimately tragic circumstances, it is far more than that too. The actual act itself takes place off the page, the first that Alice or the reader knows of it is when she gets that dreaded visit from the police in the middle of the night. As a reader, the prologue gives us that ominous sense of something bad about to happen, but whilst we can guess the who, we won;t know the real how and why for a very long time.
Beyond the how and the why though, which of course intrigued me, this was far more a story looking at the impact of loss upon two very different mothers. First we have Alice, a woman who has suffered the ultimate loss in that her son can never be returned to her. Then you have Indidigo who is faced with a very different kind of loss as it is her son, Dean, who stands accused of Lou’s murder. The pair are united in only one thing – the need to know the truth about what happened and yet are brought together in a surprising but believable way, although it is fair to say that secrets are still the name of the game here.
The author has portrayed the two women perfectly. Alice is restrained, almost cold in the loss of her son, unable to express her grief as others might expect her to. It seems odd but. I actually understand her character quite well, can relate to it in a way, and Emily Koch has really captured that intolerance and determination, the way the odd memory forces its way through to the front of her mind when she least expects it. Indigo is Alice’s polar opposite, and whilst not overcome by her emotion, her passion for proving her son’s innocence leeches from the page and reels you in as a reader.
There are lots of side threads to this story, where we learn more about Dean, as well as Lou and his brother Benny and the world they inhabit. Lots of shady characters about who cast doubt on the account of what happened that night, and who possess vital clues in Alice and Indigo’s search for the truth. There are also those who sit on the periphery of Alice’s life – her ex husband and her father. They humanise her in a way, but also show the stark contrasts between their emotions and Alice’s aloofness.
As I said before, this book is about far much more than the who and the why. It is a keen study of character, of the impact of loss and of two women who work together to find closure and some kind of justice in the most horrible of situations. There are some real emotions wrapped up in this story, moments that will make even a hard hearted woman like Alice take pause. It is not fast paced and it is not high action, but there is an underlying suspense and tension that kept me hooked to the very last page.
About the Author
Emily Koch is an award-winning journalist and graduate of the Bath Spa Creative Writing programme. Her debut novel, If I Die Before I Wake, was shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award, longlisted for Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award, and selected as a Waterstones Thriller of the Month. She lives in Bristol.