John Lescroart has been delivering compelling legal thrillers for years, and his latest, The Keeper, is another baffling and terrific read.
Abe Glitsky was a homicide detective for some time, but now he’s retired — and bored. When his friend, attorney Dismas Hardy, asks for his help, he jumps at the chance to get back in the game. Hardy’s client, Hal Chase, claims everything was fine when he left his house to pick up his brother at the airport. When they returned, Hal’s wife, Katie, had vanished.
Hal reports her disappearance, but the police believe something more sinister has occurred. The drive to the airport doesn’t take as much time as Hal took to get there, and his brother’s plane was delayed. Hal claims he was at a bar waiting for the plane to arrive, but there is no evidence that he was there. To make things more complicated, the police find Katie’s blood at the scene, and evidence reveals their marriage was on the rocks. Was Hal having an affair?
Then Hardy learns that his own wife, a marriage counselor, was seeing Katie professionally. What really happened, and is Hal manipulating Hardy?
The reason that Lescroart’s novels are so readable is his ability to take compelling characters and baffling mysteries and mix them together like a top-rated chef. Many writers include great plot elements but leave a bad taste in the mouth with a subpar ending. Lescroart satisfies with every bite, and the finale is delicious.
— Jeff Ayers
Natalie Merchant has never been one to pull punches.
From her start singing deceivingly jovial-sounding tunes about tough topics like child abuse and air pollution with seminal 1980s alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs, through her 21 years as a solo artist, Merchant has made her mark as an unflinchingly honest artist.
That fearlessness continues on the self-titled and self-produced Natalie Merchant, her first collection of entirely original songs in 13 years.
On the haunting Giving Up Everything, Merchant sings about mercy-killing her craving, giving up her “cursed search for meaning.” Think of it as her version of John Lennon’s God.
Not everything is a downer. The opening track, Ladybird, is a jaunty toe-tapper. But that’s quickly followed by Maggie Said, which begins with the line: “Maggie said dig one more shallow grave before I’m dead.”
With her distinctive voice still in strong form as she enters her 50s, together with the lush backing of strings, piano, organ and the occasional woodwinds, Merchant creates a rich musical tapestry that transcends the typical vagary of pop music.
— Scott Bauer
I Never Learn
Sweden’s Lykke Li delivers a full fusion of deep, soul-searching lyrics on I Never Learn, her third studio album and an artistic zenith for this talented singer.
Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone is a minimalist guitar-and-vocals-only track. Li’s voice strains in all the right places and pleads for love in others, meshing nicely into a raw display of emotion. The title track carries more production sheen, but retains an authentic feel as Li sings about falling too deeply in love.
There are no weak songs here, and the best comes on No Rest for the Wicked. Ghostly piano stabs echo until an avalanche of percussion falls over it all. It’s a poignant song about fighting to keep a relationship alive as it tears apart, territory that sounds personal when Li sings it.
In the end, it is love that is at stake on I Never Learn. Lykke Li adroitly captures the struggle that one must endure to keep love at the risk of losing it forever.
— Ron Harris