Friday, September 19, 2008

Keeper of the Keys by Perri O'Shaughnessy

Keeper of the Keysby Perri O'Shaughnessy is yet another of the food, fashion and feelings genre. The triangle is Ray Jackson, a successful Los Angeles architect, Kat Tinsley, a real estate appraiser (before the housing crash, of course), and Leigh Hubbel Jackson who is missing. Leigh is Ray's wife who left after a fight about her affair with Ray's partner. When she met Ray, she broke up with Kat's bother (the sensitive actor); Tom committed suicide. Leigh and Kat were BFF from before high school until the suicide. Other characters include various parents and grandparents, all interested in either discovering the whereabouts of Leigh or accusing someone of murdering her.

This story tries for a more serious note than other food, fashion and feelings novels: A Book for Today: Poisoned Tarts by G A McKevett and A Book for Today: Poisoned Tarts by G A McKevett, but misses as a successful novel because the both main characters (Tom and Kat) are low energy and flat affect. They float through the story with little emotional involvement or commitment (see Asperger Syndrome). Of course, novels do not have to be about characters with Type-A Personalities (consider Anna in Anna Karenina, and Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment). However, this is very difficult, and this book doesn't have enough in it to involve the reader once it becomes clear that main characters don't give a damn.

In addition to the disappearence of Leigh (wife, lover, daughter, best friend of various characters), the book delivers a fascinating and intriguing study of Los Angeles architectural history and emotional connections to childhood houses. This is the most engaging part of the book. I imagine this was the the seed idea. Anyone who has spent decades in Los Angeles can enjoy the book for the real estate analysis and history alone.

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