Desert Isle Keeper
Wow! It’s been awhile since I said that about a Sandra Brown suspense novel. She is always a good read for me – just about a guaranteed B or B+, but this one was awesome from page one. I was riveted. Couldn’t figure out what would happen next – and couldn’t wait to turn the page to find out. I just about inhaled this novel, it was that good.
When four-year-old Emily tells her there is a man in their yard, Honor Gillette just keeps stirring the frosting. As a mom, she has mastered the art of half listening to her young daughter’s lively ramblings. But when Emily insists that he is there, is quite specific in fact as to exactly where “there” is, and says that the man is sick, Honor rushes to check out the situation. Bearing out the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished, Honor then finds herself and Emily the prisoners of Lee Coburn, the man who had gone on a killing spree the previous evening, murdering seven men in cold blood. Honor has no choice but to cooperate with Coburn; she is certain that in spite of the fact he has assured her they are in no danger, her – and her daughter’s – time left alive is rapidly running out. Unless she can outwit the man who so coldly faces her across her own kitchen table.
Lee Coburn is a man on a vital mission. Eddie Gillette held an important secret – and only his lovely widow can possibly tell Lee where Eddie hid “it”. She claims she has no idea what “it” is, that she in fact doesn’t believe that Eddie did indeed hold some sort of secret or that the car accident that claimed his life was anything more than an accident. Lee believes her – but demands that they both frantically search every aspect of Eddie’s life in the days before he died to find what he left behind, because the people who want what he had are desperate to get it. And Lee, the lovely widow, and her charming daughter are the only ones standing in their way.
Each has their own stake in this game, and that stake is survival. No one close can be trusted. No outside help can be counted on. The body count is rising and the enemy wears a smiling, familiar face at every turn.
Again, what a terrific read. I absolutely loved Honor, who is all that her name implies. She is tough, resourceful, decent, and open minded. Her love for her first husband is still strong, but she is at the point where she is willing to accept that life has to go on and is determined that it does for her and her daughter.
I don’t want to give too much away about Lee, but I will say that one of the many things the title refers to is him. This isn’t a guy who talks things out or who balks at tough jobs. He does what he needs to, no holds barred.
Emily, the daughter, borders on being the “too good kid”, but having kids of my own I know that they can really come through for you in a crisis, so I went with it. I think she is necessary to the plot because she works as leverage at various times. She also explains the intense feelings of father-in-law Stan, who takes part in the manhunt. It made sense to me that he would be very, very motivated to be around his granddaughter and that some of the decisions he made were made to that end. I appreciated that there was a reason for her being there beyond the “add cute kid to juice up plot” motivation.
I’ve read two other Brown romantic suspense novels this year and what set this one apart was heart and craftsmanship. There are no weird uber-villains here who are evil just because they are psychotic. Greed is a powerful motivator and people can be scary enough in pursuit of it, as this book proves. Each one of the secondary characters is drawn with depth and memorability. You really feel for field agent Tom and his wife, for Deputy Crawford who was doing a tough job made tougher by the growing circle of suspicion surrounding his team, for Grandpa Stan and best friend Tori – they all came to life within these pages. A lot of times I find myself having trouble rooting for Brown’s hero or heroine because they can be such cold hearted, calculating people, but here I felt nothing but the love. I was really rooting for the good guys to win. Not just wanting justice to prevail, but emotionally invested in whether or not it did.
Is this a perfectly crafted mystery? I’m sure those looking could find flaws with it. But for me it was an intense, enjoyable thriller that didn’t let me go till the last page. And it had a great ending, by the way – very in keeping with the novel. I would recommend it to any romantic suspense fan or just plain suspense fan. It works well either way.