Up until recently, Lisa Scottoline --- who once worked as a litigator --- was known primarily for her legal thrillers, such as FINAL APPEAL and ROUGH JUSTICE. More recently, however, in books like THINK TWICE, SAVE ME and DON'T GO, Scottoline has proven that she can center her suspenseful, emotional works of fiction not on the intricacies of the courtroom but on the complexities of family life. In her latest novel, KEEP QUIET, Scottoline continues to explore new territory even as she keeps one eye on the law.
Jake Buckman hasn't exactly been close to his 16-year-old son, Ryan, for a while now. Jake has been busy getting his financial advising firm off the ground after a recent layoff. He's finally made it --- he even has the Audi to prove his success --- but in the meantime, his large, powerful teenage son has become something of a stranger to him. It doesn't help that Jake has been more than willing to let his wife, Pam, attend Ryan's basketball games and keep tabs on his friends.
"KEEP QUIET is a thriller with a heart, a suspense novel that never loses sight of its emotional core."
But this comfortable distance is about to end when, after a routine night picking up Ryan from a night at the movies with his friends, Jake and Ryan find themselves united following a horrible tragedy, one they must keep secret not only from the police but even from Pam. Jake tells himself that he's keeping their involvement a secret in order to protect Ryan's future and avoid jeopardizing his potential success in basketball and at college. But he may also be trying to save himself.
Of course, what starts as a simple cover-up winds up being anything but, as Ryan has second thoughts about their silence and seeks out a lawyer, threatening to uncover all the secrets Jake thought they had successfully buried. Meanwhile, someone seems to know the truth of what happened that night and is blackmailing Jake. And, in a coincidence that may prove their final undoing, Pam, a judge, has been nominated for a federal judicial position, meaning that the entire family's finances and activities will be subject to a level of scrutiny for which even Jake is unprepared.
Nearly every chapter of Scottoline's page-turning latest provides a new twist in the rapidly unfolding tale of Jake and Ryan's huge mistake and its complicated aftermath. Told from Jake's perspective, the story seems reminiscent of a Greek tragedy, as Jake's hubris threatens to turn a single tragedy into a much more wide-reaching event, one that could jeopardize his entire family's future. Given her background, it's no surprise that Scottoline backs the plot up with plenty of convincing legal details, but ultimately the book is as much about pursuing the integrity of family and desiring a connection between parents and children as it is about legal particularities.
KEEP QUIET is a thriller with a heart, a suspense novel that never loses sight of its emotional core.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on April 10, 2014