I received a copy of For Keeps from the author, in exchange for posting an honest review and boosting the signal on this sweet little mystery novel. At its heart, this is a love story between two characters with an established romance and partnership- Sam, the main character, a retired doctor obsessed with gardening, and Rachel, his amazing wife who has MS and is wheelchair-bound. There’s a whole passel of secondary and tertiary characters, most of which seemed rather flat to me (that is to say, had interesting quirks but weren’t compelling).
On the whole, Lazar does an excellent job of building place. He describes the color, tastes, textures, etc of everyone and everything so much that I expect the characters are old friends of his. It bogs down the pacing a teensy bit, but it’s cool to be able to visualize a character so exactly. The mystery allows for some tension and pacing, more because they are baffling and brutal than anything else. Sam isn’t a professional detective, so it’s like having a normal person view into a world generally accessed through cops, detectives, CSI lab rats, etc in novels.
As a whole, I enjoyed this as a quick, sweet read with few surprises but a nicely homey feel. The tension in the book is minimal, the bad guys not so bad (and not so believable, to me, but then I’m a Pagan who studied psychology in school). Rachel is a winner, as are Beth and Penelope, and Evan. I get the sense that there may be some Mary Sue-ing going on with Sam, but hey, I don’t judge.
I’d recommend this for fans of general fiction- it’s a supernatural mystery with time travel, but it’s more about sorting out the important things in life than about solving any issues or saving the world.
Check out Aaron Paul Lazar’s blog for more info on this and other mystery books he’s written.