Mysterious Book Report The KeptThe Kept by James Scott

Harper Collins, $25.99, 357 pages, ISBN 978-0-06-223673-9

Sometimes I get feedback from fans and readers that goes something like this . . .

“How come I never heard of the books or authors you talk about in the newspapers?” . . . And my answer is always the same. “Because I’m trying to find your next favorite author for you, instead of the same old, same old bestseller’s you’ve been getting in mass market paperbacks at the grocery store checkout lane.” Here’s an example:

The Kept, by James Scott is a debut novel with an unequaled sense of time and place, as well as an intricate, compelling and fast-paced plot that will transport the reader in time and space to somewhere unexpected, unexamined and unknown by most of us.

The year is 1897. The place is a remote area of upstate New York in the dead of winter. Elspeth Howell is returning home, trudging through miles of snow and ice, to her remote family farm where her husband and children are waiting. She’s been gone for months, working in the city as a midwife, earning the family some much needed cash, which she has hidden in the toe of her boot. As Elspeth crosses the top of the last hill, no lights in the windows and no smoke from the chimney tell her something is seriously wrong and she rushes forward in a panic. Arriving, four of her children and her husband have been murdered: shot dead. Two weeks later she sets out on a chase and revenge mission with her twelve year old son Caleb; a mission which slowly morphs from payback to discovery, as both characters learn aspects of themselves, and the family, that should have stayed buried. The reader will be fascinated, shocked and perhaps even revolted by the twists and turns that come with each chapter, and on what seems like every other page. An interesting, excellent first novel from an upcoming talent and a good one to read during those hot summer days when it seems impossible to cool off.


John Dwaine McKenna