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Keeping Watch

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  1,516 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
Acclaimed as one of the most original talents to emerge in the last decade, award-winning author Laurie R. King returns to Folly Island to deliver her most stunning achievement yet--a breathtaking novel of suspense that explores the very essence of good and evil.

Allen Carmichael came back from Vietnam a lifetime ago--but only now was he ready to return home. For years, he’
Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2003)
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Mab Morris
Jul 01, 2009 Mab Morris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was one of the books I've read in my life that was so well written that I believed it was unnecessary for me to write any of my own. I'd say near perfect.
May 06, 2009 Nathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is more a companion book than a sequel to Folly, as this work touches only briefly on Folly's main character, Rae. I must say I enjoyed this book immensely, and felt the book was a much more rewarding read than Folly. This could very well be King's magnum opus. The way she weaves the stories and backgrounds of the two main characters, Allen and Jamie, is quite masterful. I thought King proved remarkably adept at telling a story from the male point-of-view.

This book is not for the faint of h
Theresa Sjoquist
Keeping Watch

Laurie R King

Psychological thriller isn't usually my genre but Keeping Watch is one of the most brilliantly written books I've read in a long while. Laurie King writes with the acuity of the master, never tripping throughout this exquisitely appalling tale.Jamie is a thirteen year old boy whose father is a con man extraordinaire and who has an unusual and terrifying occupation. Allen, a Vietnam vet, is a man dealing with the psychological fallout of his year fighting the Vietcong. T
Liz Gelbmann
Feb 14, 2015 Liz Gelbmann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book almost in one sitting. A fabulous story and so well written. Thanks for the recommendation, Debbie.
Mar 04, 2009 Cher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was well into this book before I realized it was the same characters from the book Folly! I liked that book a lot too! I am going to have to look into reading more by Laurie R. King! I would say that Keeping Watch is more a companion to Folly than a sequel as there is very little story line carry over...some of the same characters, but each book is certainly a complete, stand alone book without the other. But, if you plan to read both, read Folly first! This book was not only about Alan Carmic ...more
May 08, 2009 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes thrillers with depth
Recommended to Jennifer by: Lake Forest Library Booksale
Shelves: read-2009
A gripping psychological thriller that was far better than I expected (I should have know that Laurie R. King would deliver). Allen Carmichael, a fifty-something Vietnam vet, is about to retire from his current vocation, which is helping abused women and children "disapear" to safety. He turned to this line of work more than 20 years before--partly to exorcise his war-created demons but also to take advantage of a skill set he had already started to hone in the jungles of Vietnam.

As is often th
Oct 27, 2015 patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like Laurie King's writings. Read a lot of her Mary Russell series. This novel was a completely different writing from her ususal. An account of a Viet Nam vet. His struggle and horror with combat in that insane conflict. It led to his PTSD. Altho PTSD was not defined immediately after that war there was no doubt it existed. The main character, Allan Carmichael became my brother who suffers from the same malady. Years of struggling with that misunderstood mental battle. Then, the all comsuming ...more
Sep 18, 2015 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazingly powerful book, vivid in its imagery and emotion. It did, at times get a little heavy handed with the psychoanalytical aspect, but in the end, that all seemed to serve a purpose. If you are a fan of King's "Beekeeper's Apprentice" series, be forewarned that this is very different - much more akin to its companion novel "Folly", but even more intense, dark and brooding, but also rewarding.
Jan 29, 2014 Audrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far one of my all time favorite books!! This book was like two wonderfully written stories intertwined into one book, but so skillfully written that that they easily flow into one amazing book. Not only does the book take you into the depths and tragedies of Vietnam, but also gives you a heart warming and heart wrenching story of the abuse and rescue of children by a savior born of Vietnam.
May 14, 2016 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full of suspense, and the pain and power of humans and the human spirit.
Robert Scott
+Finished 12/09/2013. Vietnam vet has made a postwar career of rescuing children from abusive parents. His "last" case endangers his life & several others with whom he has worked.+
Susan W
Oct 28, 2016 Susan W rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, it is a dark story, but well told. Highly recommend.
Jan 02, 2017 Miker rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought the book did a great job of describing life among soldiers in Vietnam in 1968 and the emotional scars they faced when they came home. Allen Carmichael, the protaganist, is such a soldier. He struggles to rebuild his life after he came home, only to discover his true calling is rescuing abused children from abusive relationships. The first case he works on is that of the widow of one of his comrades in arms. Eventually, he finds Jamie, a 12-year-old boy who is physically and mentally ab ...more
I was in the mood for a quick read like a Harlan Coban or a Lindsay Barclay when I picked this up. It was not what I expected. The first third of the book was about the main character's, Allen, time in Vietnam. Laurie King delivers strong imagery of that war and who it effected the soldiers. The actual thriller part of the book didn't start until half way through and it was a bit predictable at points. I overall enjoyed the book but wish the description on the back of the book had been clearer.
Sep 27, 2007 Lissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read quite a few of Laurie R. King's novels - particularly her series of Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I was at the used bookstore and I ran across this book for $1.00 and figured it was worth a shot. This book is a departure from the mystery genre. Keeping Watch is really the story of Allen Carmichael, a Viet-nam veteran who goes into the business of illicitly helping abused children and mothers get away from their abusers. The first section of the book details his experiences in ...more
Aug 22, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-books
As a fan of the Mary Russell series who has also enjoyed some of the Kate Martinelli mysteries, I was completely surprised by this book. I expected a well written and intellectual cozy-type crime mystery, but instead got first a lengthy, detailed, and horrifying personal account of Allen Carmichael's Vietnam War experiences including return to the U.S. and attempts to live unassisted with post-traumatic stress (although fiction and a different war, the first half of this book reminded me in many ...more
Nov 04, 2010 glace rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
The vibrant, sometimes disturbing tale of Allen Carmichael, a fifty-something Vietnam vet cum Underground Railroad conductor who helps abused women and children disappear and start new lives.

The author's vivid account of Allen's tour of duty in Vietnam, his subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder, and struggle to rebuild his life goes beyond the familiar war-is-hell cliche and into a compelling, sometimes horrifying (sur)realism. Allen's last case: Jamie, a smart, scrawny pre-teen attempting t
King, Laurie – Keeping Watch - G
Allen Carmichael, now in his fifties, is the man that Vietnam made him, and Jamie O'Connell, who loves and hates the father who tortures him. Carmichael rescues abused children and their mothers in a number of patient and inventive ways, using skills and the emotional tools he learned during his searing time in Vietnam in the late '60s. The details of Jamie's father's psychological abuse of him will make readers dizzy and breathless; how Allen and his cadre of ass
Patrick Dwyer
Dec 15, 2011 Patrick Dwyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
King is .. well, King! At least she continues her reign in this latest of her independent (non-series) books. A very loose sequel to events and characters first visited with Folly, her compelling yarn of a woman once mad, and brought again to the edge of her own madness. Who comes to a small island in the Puget Sound to heal, and to solve a mystery, though she does not suspect at first that that is her mission. Now one of the characters from that tale is nearing the end of a long mission of his ...more
Apr 01, 2011 Janellyn51 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really really enjoyed this book. I wouldn't have thought I'd enjoy reading about Vietnam, and maybe enjoyed isn't the right word...let's just say, I could read it without getting freaked out or scared like I did when I was in high school and people I knew were getting shipped off and coming back crippled or with parts missing, if they were lucky enough to come back at all. The story builds very nicely and you really don't know till the very end, whether the kid is inherently good or evil. I li ...more
Jan 05, 2014 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Wow! A very intense - almost terrifying - story. A bit of a surprise after reading the Mary Russell and Kate Martinelli series, but fantastic writing. I appreciate the intricacy of the plot construction. As another reviewer commented, it's almost like two separate novels - the Vietnam part and the current case. But Allen's Vietnam experience shapes the rest of his life and echoes constantly in every facet of his life, especially this case. Although it might have been interesting to have the acti ...more
Dec 11, 2009 Jack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jean reads this author. She writes books about Sherlock Holes and his apprentice. This book was recommended by Schumacher. It is interesting and entertaining. BUT . . . The hero witnessed all this brutality by his fellow US troops while he was in Viet Nam then came home and went through his period of drug addiction, alcoholism, crime, homelessness and unemployment. I hate that sterotype. The abuse of civilians by US troops in VN is so exaggerated. Furthermore, the facts show that Viet Nam vetera ...more
Feb 02, 2015 Purlewe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I don't do well with books that have graphic descriptions of war. But knowing that King is an amazing writer let me set that aside for this book. A Vietnam vet who has extreme PTSD finds his place in the world by rescuing children (and mothers) who are abused. His last run, a boy who's father is a serious con man who taunts and hunts his little boy like prey, seems to go smooth; but it ends up going badly. I will admit when the book got to the part where the boy had escaped and Allen was home I ...more
This is the 3rd book by King that I have read. I did not enjoy the 90+ pages devoted in grim and grisly detail about Allen Carmichael's tour of duty in Viet Nam. I mostly skimmed this entire section.

If this had been the first book I read by this author, I don't think I would have looked for any further books she wrote.

Once I got passed that part, the rest of the book was pretty good. I may switch to her Sherlock Holmes series and see if I like those. Her writing about the primary characters is
Kirsty Darbyshire
Dec 07, 2010 Kirsty Darbyshire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paperback

I bought this blindly because I love King's books and then discovered that the UK publishers weren't printing it here because the story has a lot to do with Vietnam and they thought that a UK audience wouldn't be interested. This kind of put me off reading it myself.

I'm very glad I have eventually got around to reading it because it's an excellent story about a man who is totally damaged by his experiences in Vietnam but most of the story is about his later life in which he rescues abused women

Dec 03, 2009 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marinn
Laurie King is, without a doubt, one of the most gifted and versatile contemporary fiction writers of the current day. I am a mystery fan who started with the Kate Martinelli series, progressed to the Mary Russell series, the Harris Stuyvesant series, and have now branched out to her other novels. In both Folly and Keeping Watch King takes on complex human topics, and she excels, able to convey with ease her characters' thoughts and feelings around great moral and psychological issues.

I am asto
Nov 14, 2012 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Right. I listened to this - well, half of it. Notwithstanding that, I know when I finish it I'll still give it a 5* rating. Well written, well researched, all that was fine. I soldiered through the gory bits in Viet Nam. I liked the characters. BUT - I just found myself getting more and more anxious as I continued to listen. Like hearing the Jaws music in the background and knowing this will not be a pretty picture. And I'm just not good for that, so I stopped. Maybe another time.

That said, if o
Mar 31, 2009 Deb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was actually my introduction to LRK. It gives a sympathetic and intriguing portrayal of Vietnam Vets and the underworld of escapees from family abuse. The character of the young boy being rescued was also well developed.
I liked the book enough to go onto Folly and the other modern books and finally had to break down and try Beekeeper's Apprentice even though I was skeptical about providing Sherlock Holmes with an apprentice and female at that. Needless to say, I got hooked and have eve
Sep 13, 2013 Donnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this one. Another story within a story. Real insight into someone who has been involved in combat during one of our many wars and the difficulties this imposes on one's return to "normal" life. The main character is intriguing and finds an interesting way to "pay back" some of the harm he inflicted. The main story was also compelling for anyone who has known someone who grew up in a situation of abuse. Some of the characters' traits may be a bit exaggerated but it is still a very interes ...more
Jun 27, 2008 WK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lrk
This is a story primarily about one mans means of atonement and one boys struggle with abuse from a loved one. Allen Carmichael is not the same when he returns from Vietnam after serving under a particularly deviant Lieutenant. Jamie O’Connell is a boy whose father’s abuse is unnerving (to say the least). These two are brought together because Allen now works for an underground service rescuing the abused from their abusers. This authors powerful writing style and amazing storytelling abilities ...more
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Edgar-winning mystery writer Laurie R. King writes series and standalone novels. Her official forum is
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King's most recent novel, Dreaming Spies, sees Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes travel from Japan to Oxford, in a case with international players and personal meaning. The Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series foll
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