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Safe Keeping

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At the heart of every crime, there's a family.

My son is a murderer.... So begins this chilling and emotionally charged mystery from highly acclaimed author Barbara Taylor Sissel.

Emily Lebay had always thought of her family as ordinary. Sure, they've endured their share of problems, even a time of great trouble; what family hasn't? But when a woman's body turns up in the dense woods near their home, and Emily's grown son Tucker is accused of murder, Emily is forced to confront the unfathomable, and everything she believed about her life is called into question.

This isn't the first time Tucker has been targeted by the police; a year ago he was a person of interest when another woman was found dead in the same stretch of woods. Still, neither Emily nor her daughter, Lissa, can reconcile their Tucker with these brutal crimes. Terrified, convinced there's been a tragic mistake, Emily and Lissa set out to learn the truth about Tucker, once and for all. And while his life hangs in the balance, what they discover proves far more shocking than their darkest fears.

"Past secrets contribute to present-day angst in this solid suspense novel, and the even pacing keeps the reader’s interest until the captivating conclusion." Publisher's Weekly

“...impressive writing and affecting subject matter.” Kirkus Reviews

320 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

Barbara Taylor Sissel

11 books709 followers
Barbara Taylor Sissel writes issue oriented, upmarket women’s fiction that is threaded with elements of suspense and defined by its particular emphasis on how crime affects the family. Next to writing books she loves to edit them, and with more than fifteen years in the profession, both as a bestselling author and as a developmental editor, she's got experience. Contact her via her website if you're interested. Please include the details of your fiction project (a brief summary and total word count) for more information and her availability.

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5 stars
197 (21%)
4 stars
273 (29%)
3 stars
314 (33%)
2 stars
99 (10%)
1 star
43 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 112 reviews
Profile Image for Susan.
1,131 reviews188 followers
January 18, 2014

Do You Ever Really Know Someone??

SAFE KEEPING is by one of my new go to authors, Barbara Taylor Sissel. This is the story of the Lebay family. Tucker and Lissa are brother and sister. Their parents are Roy and Emily. Tucker has been in trouble with the police before. Now it seems he is in trouble again. The police have found a dead woman on the same stretch of the highway where they found one a year before. A year ago, Tucker was questioned as a person of interest in the police departments investigation as he was the last person to see the woman alive.

I really loved this book and read it rather quickly. Barbara pulls you right in from the first page and never lets you go. The way she ends the book will blow you away. I couldn't stop flipping the pages and stayed up way too late two nights because I had to know how SAFE KEEPING was going to end. What this family goes through will be pulling at your heart strings in no time.

I,am leaving a full review on www.freshfiction.com
Profile Image for Pauline Tilbe.
99 reviews2 followers
December 24, 2013
The characters drew me in from the first few pages. There was quickly a sense of hidden stories and conflict that was weaved amongst the family members. Tucker couldn't possibly be capable of murder and yet everything points to yes, he is. Roy's history makes him an imposing character but when needed, Emily stands her ground to put her family back together. The portrayal of Roy's PTSD was something I haven't seen written so well in other stories. This is a page turner for sure and kept me up past my bedtime just to learn the conclusion.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,076 reviews182 followers
October 10, 2014
I picked up a copy of this book because it falls in the genre that I like. However it did not intrigue me. I got to page 56 and put the book down. I came back to a long while later and started reading it again as I was determined to read the book. Sadly though I only got a few more pages into the book and finally gave up on it. None of the characters or storyline were drawing me in and keeping my interest. Plus, I really did not like the way that they talked. Such a bummer as I thought this book would be good. Oh well. On to the next book.
Profile Image for Deanna.
183 reviews6 followers
May 4, 2014
Interesting premise, but I never felt any connection to the characters. The characters themselves seemed to be lacking in emotion a bit...or at least, their emotions didn't translate well to the pages (more "telling" than "showing" was the case here, I think).
Profile Image for Nenette.
850 reviews51 followers
August 16, 2015
Right after I finished the book, a question came to mind: what could be worse, death or incarceration? We're talking about either one happening to one's child. Both are unthinkable, unimaginable. Denial from the family is a natural reaction, as the mind cannot grapple with the idea of a kin, one of their own being capable of an evil act like murder.

I had hoped that the killer was someone else; maybe it was the mother in me. Yet, when the truth was exposed, it's true what's said that one can only move forward, move up. Easier said than done, because it takes a lot of self-coaxing to not wallow in the pits of despair, sadness, and guilt.

Ms. Sissel once again delivered. No better fiction than one that may on the surface appear so ordinary, yet full of truths on the possible twists and turns a life can take.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
1,067 reviews27 followers
August 2, 2014
I don't believe I've ever read a book quite like "Safe Keeping." It was extremely emotional and the plot held my interest throughout. I just couldn't believe that Tucker was a murderer (not a spoiler because it's in the synopsis). I still don't believe it.

This family broke my heart. Emily, the mom, was such a tragic figure. She loves and supports her family so much that she's constantly hurting - and Lissa is the same way. She believes in Tucker no matter what. Even when everything is falling apart, these two women keep trying to hold the family together. One succeeds and one fails.

This story will fill your heart with sadness, then renewal. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Sharon Huether.
1,459 reviews10 followers
April 2, 2014
Safe Keeping ...by Barbara Taylor Sissel... I won this book through Goodreads. A family in crisis. The father, a returning Vet from Nam had constant terrors; they reflected on his son. The son accused of murder. His sister wanting to see him innocent at all costs. The parents finding proof of his guilt. In his last act of kindness the father took the bullet meant for the son. There were many twists and turns in this story. The family loved their son, but knew he had to pay for his crimes. They were able to move on, remembering the good times.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Michelle.
12 reviews15 followers
June 11, 2014
I think something must be wrong with me because I keep looking for more fucked up twists and even darker depravity. This one was just ok.
Profile Image for Deborah Carr.
121 reviews26 followers
December 12, 2017
2.5 stars. This book was just OK. I felt like there was just too much going on; Tucker being charged with murder, Roy's PTSD, Emily's many, many issues, and Lissa/Evan's baby situation. This book just tried too hard and didn't deliver. One of my biggest issues is that central to everyone's story was Tucker, and we learned the least about him. Very disappointing.
Profile Image for Lori.
225 reviews
December 6, 2017
Really enjoyed reading this book. It was a page-turner, and the characters were relatable and believable.
Profile Image for Ashley.
166 reviews40 followers
April 9, 2017
When another missing woman is found murdered it once again casts a dark shadow over the Lebay family. How could it not? Jessica was murdered in the same manner and found in same location as Miranda whose body was found only a year earlier. Jessica, like Miranda, had a close association with Tucker Lebay and they had fought on the night she went missing. Miranda’s murder had never been solved and now Tucker once again is considered a “person of interest.” He, of course, proclaims his innocence but his family has their doubts. Tucker has always been in trouble, always been a little “different” and emotionally detached, can’t hold a job and runs with the wrong people.

Is Tucker innocent? Can his family ever trust him? Will this broken family ever mend? These questions form the foundation for Barbara Taylor Sissel’s “Safe Keeping.”

The story is thought-provoking and the emotional turmoil of the family as they struggle to believe in Tucker despite mounting evidence. They also struggle with determining their own responsibility in Tucker becoming the man that he is and who finds himself a suspected murderer. Were there warning signs? Could they have prevented this? Is he really even guilty? The questions felt endless and in the end it all wraps up neatly although readers still may not feel satisfied. It’s hard to share too much without spoiling the story.

While I enjoyed the story, especially once Emily (mother) and Lissa (sister) began to unravel the shocking truth about Tucker there were certain aspects of the book that I struggled with while reading. I had little issue with the story itself as it indeed a great journey but there are aspects of Sissel’s writing style that caused me to cringe on more than on occasion. She has an apparent love for the use simile as they are constant throughout the book and do not always create a pleasant image (e.g.: “as pale as a milky eye). At times I couldn’t understand if she was trying to create a negative image or if it was simply poor choice of imagery. I also have a personal disdain for the phrase ”in my (his/her) mind’s eye” which Sissel also uses frequently. The phrase originated in Shakespeare and feels sorely out of place in a contemporary fiction novel.

Do you share my disdain for poor similes and “mind’s eye” phrases? If so, there will be moments in this book that make you cringe. If you don’t and you’re all about the story then pick it up and give it a read. It’s a good book and the truth about Tucker is worth discovering.

Review by Ashley LaMar
Closed the Cover
Profile Image for Carla.
503 reviews57 followers
April 3, 2014

****** This is a First Reads, Thank You Goodreads *****

I think 2 1/2 stars would be more accurate in my rating to be fair.

The story surrounds a family in Texas; Emily, the matriarch, who has her own pains and regrets in life as she blindly carries and sweeps her family's clean or bakes her way in a false stepford smile; Roy, the patriarch, wounded in war, came back with ptsd, did damage to his family in more ways than one, the night terrors sometimes keep in the day, questions was it all worth the pain; Emily, the daughter, the oldest, the one who has kept things running, married right, keeps the company going along with her husband, blindly loyal; Evan, Emily's husband, the son that never was, the silent strength; Tucker, the son, the lost child, the one who in one of his father's moments became an enemy and never grew out of it, and the one who is now the suspect in a murder - again.

Can lightning strike twice and it still be a mistake? Tucker is the suspect again in a murder of woman, another one he knew, another one found where the last one was, in the same fashion of death. Why does this keep happening? Can't people see what the rest of the family can? That he is good, that he is kind, that he has emotional problems that make him wonder off for days, but he is also the type of person the would spend his paycheck on saving a dog that was run over on the side of the road that he found. This is where the nightmare only begins for the Lebay Family, with their family history with each other and with the small town secrets that slowly creep up there are a bit of twists and turns.

Why only 2 1/2 stars - I didn't connect with any of the characters. I struggled to keep reading and finish the book, which thankfully I did, because finally 250 pages in is when the action began and it got exciting - sadly that left only 50 pages to wrap it up, which was plenty. There was a disconnect that not only I felt with the characters, but they had with each other, everything seemed very surface - a facade of love, of care, of a marriage, of a relationship with each other, I don't know if that was the author's intent.

226 reviews
July 10, 2014
lost interest after 30 pages or so. I could not even keep the characters straight in my mind. sorry, but I do not know how this got the reviews it did.
37 reviews
November 2, 2016
It was a quick read, but kinda dull. And I was kinda hoping Lissa would get an abortion cause it annoyed me that her husband thought he could take her to court to prevent her from having one.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Alicia.
824 reviews13 followers
August 11, 2017
Emotionally moving

"Safe Keeping" by Barbara Taylor Sissel

What happens when you think your son may have murdered two women, yet at the same time you are almost convinced he could not have done it. Are you making justifications that he is always pestered by the cops, he has lied in the past, but not always, yes he has struggled at everything he has tried to do and just appears to have little or no ability to really succeed. Is this a result of how he was born? How he was raised? A traumatic event that happened to him when he was four? All of those things?

"Safe Keeping," is about one family who is going through this exact struggle. Their son is different from others. He always has been since he was about four. But is that a result of a traumatic event he suffered that a psychiatrist said he had recovered from? Or did the effects of that event continue to carry over to continual PTSD that led to his multiple issues as many others have argued? His father says his mother was too soft and easy on him. His father said he tried to be tougher to provide more guidance and discipline. In the end, both parents realize maybe communicating as a family might have been the best way. But who really knows what role nature and nurture play in ones development. What time does i
genetics play? His sister never really struggled with much. She feels she knows her brother better than either of her parents and that there is no way her brother committed these crimes. Yet she also says ther is much she doesn't know about him either.

But as the family members do their own soul searching; his sister some of her own searching to clear him lead to family issues that were never fully discussed or addressed, individual fears are brought forth, and speaking to outsiders often brings about more questions than answers.

As the LeBay family goes through the arrest of their son of the murder of two women and the family tries to prove him innocent or accept his fate, more situations arise that bring about both doubt and the potential of guilt.

In this twisting turning novel that starts out with the first sentence, "my son is a murderer," the reader is engaged from that point on and the author carries them through until the end.

Rating: 4.7
Profile Image for Nancy Osberg-otrembiak.
83 reviews2 followers
May 15, 2018
If Barbara Taylor Sissel ever stops writing my world will collapse. In the span of just a few months I've gobbled up five of her books (will be finishing the fifth one tonight or tomorrow!)!!!!
I am not one to write a synopsis of a book when I give a review because I hate when story lines are given away. In fact I rarely read the synopsis on the book itself! So I'm not going to tell you anything about what I read in this book.
I am going to tell you, that as a reader, I am not easily impressed with books anymore. I've been reading for 58 years (my first was Charlotte's Web at age 10, yikes I just gave away my age). I've always enjoyed writers who pay close attention to the details and are not afraid to give you as many details as possible. Although I no longer read science fiction, I always enjoyed Stephen King's books because of the details.
Another enjoyable aspect of reading is a writer who can catch you off guard. Many don't even come close! Some try really hard, but I can figure it out before it happens. A scant few get me. I just don't see it coming. And I'm all the more impressed when it does.
And a truly good book absolutely has to have a really good story line with interesting characters who are not only well thought out, but well portrayed as well. When I set a book down (finished or taking a break), if those characters keep coming into my thoughts, then they are definitely well portrayed.
Taylor Sissel not only meets all of this criteria, she exceeds it. And masterfully so!
Right now I'm three quarters of the way through The Ninth Step. Generally after I've read two or three books by a particularly good author, I start finding their work tedious to read.
This has not happened and I find myself anxious to finish The Ninth Step to get on to a sixth book by Taylor Sissel; but, yet, hesitant because I hate to leave these characters behind. The enigma of a good read!
Thank you, Barbara Taylor Sissel!
Profile Image for Jool.
924 reviews4 followers
October 28, 2017
An interesting plot - what would you do if one of your family members was accused of not one but two murders - or even more? 34 year old Tucker is that person who has been accused. His mother and his sister and her husband stand behind him 100 percent. The only thing his father says, a Vietnam veteran who lost a leg in the war and struggles with PTSD - doesn't care what happens to Tucker, except that he "get the hell out of the house".

This is something I have wondered about; what if a beloved, loving family member was senselessly accused of murder, and there was nothing you could find to do to help them? While some of the scenes are improbable - his sister does her own interviews of his friends and whereabouts, behind the police' backs no less - and is gathering strategies for his defense. This is an intriguing tale about the lengths a family would go to in order to save a member of their family who is wrongly accused.
Profile Image for Katie Wynn.
71 reviews
May 14, 2022
I was a little disappointed in this book, but it was still a good read.

When a book starts with the line, "MY SON IS A MURDERER." , I am expecting a super gripping suspenseful book. It just never really got to that for me. It was interesting and had me wondering "whodunit" but fell flat with the ending.
Profile Image for *Weebles*.
403 reviews5 followers
November 9, 2017
Awesome book! I absolutely LOVED it. I had kind of a hard time getting into it at first, but once I hit about chapter 3, I was hooked.
Profile Image for Jessica.
137 reviews
April 8, 2019
I couldn't get into this book because I didn't like any of the characters. Everything felt very wooden and two dimensional.
870 reviews3 followers
July 28, 2019
This was well-written but kind of depressing. How does a family deal with a son accused of murder, twice... and a father with PTSD and the trauma he caused within his own family?
25 reviews
September 17, 2021
Absolutely waste of time and words…..goes on and on about the same thing. Could have summed up the book in one chapter.
Can’t even rate it with one star.
131 reviews
October 9, 2022
Needs better character development to give more credibility to some of the actions/decisions/positions/secrets strewn throughout the book.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
423 reviews1 follower
October 6, 2019
this book kept my interest. I had connections from my childhood with some of the story.
Profile Image for Andrea Corley.
496 reviews93 followers
April 6, 2014
For a more in depth review, please visit my blog, Chorley Chronicals!

I have really come to love the writing of Barbara Taylor Sissel, and must say that Evidence of Life was one of my favorite books that I've read, so when I saw that she had a new book coming out, I did everything I could to find out how I could get my hands on a copy of Safe Keeping. I knew that Barbara Taylor Sissel was in with one of my Goodreads groups, Sisterhood of the Traveling Books, so I checked there, and sure enough, she had Safe Keeping circulating, so I added myself to the list, and boy was I ever excited!

Who wouldn't want to read this book after reading such an amazing Synopsis? And after reading the book, I can't say that the Synopsis has let me down. I have found that with many books, that the story just doesn't quite live up to the Synopsis, and that in fact, the Synopsis is the best part of the book, however, that is so not the case with Safe Keeping. The story was expertly and emotionally written, making the reader feel what the other side of a murder investigation might feel like! It dives into the emotions that the family of the accused feel! How, as an accused murderer's mother or sister, might you feel? Would you stand by your son's/brother's side? Would you give everything that you had to prove his innocence? Would you believe in his innocence with all of your being? I felt a variety of emotions while reading this book.

I must say that Sissel really threw me off with this story! I thought that I had figured out what was going to happen, just to find out that I was totally wrong. There was quite a surprise ending and left me with my mouth hanging wide open! I was pulled in from the very first few words, and Sissel never let go until the last word on the last page! I found it to be a quick and easy read, however, very emotional throughout. It certainly was a page turner, and I enjoyed each and every page this story contained!

The characters were all such fierce characters, that believed in what they believed in, and were all willing to sacrifice anything for that belief. What this family goes through will leave you reeling for days and certainly will tug at all of your heart strings.

Overall, I had very high expectations for this book after reading Evidence of Life and I must say that I wasn't even in the slightest bit, let down after reading Safe Keeping. I think that Barbara Taylor Sissel has an amazing talent, and feel so honored that I can be one of her followers and have the opportunity to read her works of art! I enjoyed every minute of reading this book! As with her previous book, I found Sissel leaving me thinking of what I would do in the same situation, which is something that I really love about a book! I love the thought that goes along with these types of stories! I am endlessly amazed by Sissel's writing and can't wait to see what else she comes up with!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 112 reviews

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