Keep Him Close is a slow-burn psychological thriller which revolves around the death of a young man and two devastated mothers trying to understand what actually happened. The unfolding family drama is taut and full of suspense as information is gradually released, and two respective sons who know so much more, refuse to speak. Their silence adds to the mystery with a suspected force lurking and threatening against the truth coming out.
There is a wonderful range of personalities, each very different and all adding to the impressively observed actions and motivations being plotted. The highlights are the two single mothers, Alice Hyde and Indigo Owen. Alice is a librarian, composed and reserved, who believes showing emotion is a sign of weakness. She has two sons Benny and Lou, both very different characters and both with very different relationships with their mother. Lou privately intimidates his mother with a bubbling undercurrent of malice causing her to be fearful around him. Benny is the attentive gentle older son and a good brother to Lou. Indigo is an art therapist, stereotypically, colourful, emotional and open. Kane is her only son, he is gay, and is sincere, thoughtful and is laden with a deep sense of responsibility.
When Lou is found dead at a car park one evening, looking like he fell or was pushed from several floors above, the two families are about to experience the most devastating horror they have ever faced. The three boys along with an unsavoury character were all together that evening but none of them is willing to talk about the incident except Kane, who goes to make a statement at the police station and is subsequently arrested and charged with murder. Indigo cannot accept her son is guilty and starts investigating herself as the police are unwilling to spend any more time on a case with a written confession of guilt.
Alice with her buried emotions struggles to deal with the pain and loss as those around her would expect, including her son. Benny has his own reasons for not wanting to speak about the evening and Kane refuses to say anything to Indigo. Alice and Indigo meet by accident while Alice helps her use library resources. She is drawn into helping Indigo and while she discovers early this is the mother of her son’s killer she has a nagging doubt herself and helps Indigo find answers. On the other hand, Indigo is unaware of the connection and is extremely grateful for Alice’s help.
Emily Koch creates an engaging narrative and dialogue that highlights the power of a mother’s protection for her children. Two very different mothers with different relationships with each of their sons. The relationship between each of them is fascinating and intriguing how it evolves over time as the mystery is resolved. The expectations, mood and connection between the two mothers cleverly morph as the story develops. The novel is brought to a great ending that resolves various issues with the boys, the police and the relationship between the mothers.
I would rate this book 4.5 stars and I’d highly recommend it to mystery and thriller readers. I would like to thank Harvill Secker, Random House UK and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy in return for an honest review.