Acclaimed as one of the most original talents to emerge in the last decade, award-winning author Laurie R. King returns to Folly Island to deliver her most stunning achievement yet--a breathtaking novel of suspense that explores the very essence of good and evil.Allen Carmichael came back from Vietnam a lifetime ago--but only now was he ready to return home. For years, he's lived on the fringes of the law, using a soldier's skills to keep watch over those too young to defend themselves. Some consider him nothing but a kidnapper for hire--the best in the business; others call him a hero. His specialty has been rescuing children from abusive parents and escorting them to loving homes. But after twenty-five years, he is ready to take on his final case--a case that could destroy him.
Versatile and prolific, King not only finds time for two successful mystery series but also manages to produce the occasional stand-alone gem. Fans will discover that this gripping tale shares certain locations and characters with Folly (2001), but her hero and subject are unique to this novel. At its simplest, this is the story of a man who helps rescue women and/or children from dangerously abusive men. King's lengthy, brilliantly executed backstory of Allen Carmichael's experiences in Vietnam, his disastrously unhappy return home and his eventual discovery of his "calling" showcase some of her finest writing. Now in his early 50s, Allen is ready to retire from his dangerousvocation, to settle on his remote island and perhaps serve as a consultant to those who continue the struggle. But his last rescue, that of a 12-year-old boy trapped in a horrible situation, continues to haunt him. And when reports reach him that loose ends from that case may be unraveling, he's compelled to check it out since his actions may have endangered others. King captures perfectly the contradictions of combat: the exhilaration and the horror, the isolation and the camaraderie. The niche Allen eventually finds, the one that allows him to function more or less successfully, offers almost the same mix of extreme emotions. This novel of harrowing suspense and wrenching resolution should earn King plenty of accolades. (Mar. 4) Forecast: National print advertising in the New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review, plus sponsorship announcements on public radio, should help ensure a run on genre bestseller lists. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Keeping Watch by Laurie R. King
Allen Carmichael balanced on the precariously slim branch of the vine maple, pawing aside the soft new greenery and cursing the incompatibility of most trees with the human body. Particularly a six-foot-one-inch human body with a stiff leg, working its way through a sixth decade. Too old for this kind of stunt, he grumbled to himself. No doubt about it: It really was time to turn this side of things over to some younger maniac.
The house over which he was keeping watch ' or rather, which his machines had been watching for him ' lay slightly lower than his current treetop perch and at the other end of half a mile of well-maintained driveway. It was a solid house, big, with double-glazed windows and a lot of fake stone wrapped around a confusing number of rooms and a three-car garage. The sort of house Allen disliked, even without the things that went on inside it. Showy, unsuited to the climate, ' Tudoresque ' (whatever the hell that meant), and with no personality to show for its vast expense. It was also irritatingly well situated for defense. With good reason, Allen knew, but it made life no easier for a man trying to pry it open.
He downloaded the information stored in the treetop receiver, gave it a new battery, and paused to check the area around the tree for onlookers. He was grateful, always, when his targets were not dog owners. Remarkably few of them were ' for the simple reason, he ' d always supposed, that dogs demanded a kind of affection they had no time for. Their interests lay elsewhere.
He clambered down through the unfurling April leaves, reaching the ground without breaking any of his middle-aged bones, and set off for the motorcycle buried in some bushes half a mile away. The surveillance on AmberLyn ' s stepfather was nearly finished; time to break up the party.