Keep Him Close by Emily Koch

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Keep Him Close by Emily Koch

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Category: Crime
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: If you have a taste for difficult teenage boys then this book might well appeal more to you than it did to me. It's well written and the author is one to watch in the future.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336/9h37m Date: March 2020
Publisher: Harvill Secker
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1787301016

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Alice had two children: Benny (well, Benoît, actually) and Louis. Lou's seventeen and he's just got his A level results and he and his brother are going out to celebrate. Someone has to find something to celebrate in the letters, D, D and E. Alice has always had a good relationship with nineteen-year-old Benny but it's a touch problematic with Lou and being honest, he's not terribly likeable. The letters which kept coming to my mind were ADHD.

Indigo has just the one child, Kane, and he's the same age as Benny. She's got something in common with Alice in that they're both single parents, but when we join the story they don't know each other. That's about to change, though. As Benny and Lou head out to celebrate they meet up with Kane and at the end of the night, Lou will be dead and Kane will be in a police cell, accused of his murder.

Alice had always felt that she's struggled to love Lou: she felt that she's never quite loved him enough. She's conscious that she did consider aborting him, and Lou's father, Etienne, has told him about this. Alice is understandably worried that this might have been on Lou's mind on the night that he died. She needs to understand more about Lou.

Indigo needs to understand more about Kane, too. Kane's admitted to being responsible for Lou's death and seems determined to accept whatever punishment is coming to him. He knows that he'll not be heading off to university in October. But Indigo knows Kane to be a gentle, peaceable boy whom she couldn't imagine hurting anyone, least of all pushing them off the third floor of a multi-story car park. She's relieved when a kind stranger offers her help, but that stranger is Alice and she has her own reasons for helping.

I struggled a little with this book and that was because I really didn't take to Lou at all. Emily Koch's portrait of him is masterful and it's brave to base a story around someone who is not entirely going to appeal to readers. For me, it didn't quite come off. I was also unconvinced by Alice offering help to Indigo: she just didn't seem like that sort of person. I know: I'm nitpicking. The book is well-written and engaging - and I'll certainly be looking out for what Koch writes next and I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag see a review copy.

If this book appeals, you might also enjoy Firewatching by Russ Thomas.

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