The Keeper Summary (Meg O’Brien)

Meg O’Brien

The Keeper

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Brooke Hayes paid for her addiction to pills and alcohol with a divorce and the loss of custody of her nine-year-old daughter, Charly. At the opening of THE KEEPER, she has begun the process of rebuilding her life by freeing herself of her addictions, reestablishing her stage career, and becoming a better mother to Charly. When her daughter telephones her, the child sounds scared and in trouble. Charly has time for only a few words, but they are enough to make Brooke positive that something is wrong. Her ex-husband, Nathan, insists that Charly is safe at home, but the call upsets Brooke so much that she flies from her new home in San Francisco to Los Angeles, where Charly and Nathan live.

When Brooke finds Nathan’s house dark and no one answers the door, she goes to the police. The police, unfortunately, remember her from her days of substance abuse and are reluctant to cause trouble with Nathan. One officer, however, hands Brooke the business card of the “Keeper,” a specialist in lost children. Brooke goes to him that evening, and they begin the search for Charly.

The “Keeper,” John Creed, has handled many cases of missing children since quitting the Los Angeles Police Department. Now that he is outside the department, he is freer to use his own methods without worrying about departmental regulations. With the help of several friends in the department, he is able to find evidence that Nathan Hayes is involved in his own daughter’s disappearance. He and Brooke trace several leads, at one point breaking up a child pornography and prostitution operation by which they mistakenly believed that Charly had been abducted. The kidnapper delivers threats against Charly’s life, adding extra tension to the search for her. As the book draws to its climax, Creed himself is arrested on charges related to the disappearance of his own son several years earlier, convincing Brooke that she must go after a suspect on her own.