Tuesday, August 2, 2011

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥: The Trust by Sean Keefer

Release Date: January 21st, 2011
Publisher: Old Line
Page Count: 349
Source: Complimentary copy provided by publisher, via Novel Publicity in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you both!), as part of the Sean Keefer virtual blog tour

To attorney Noah Parks, the probate of a will should be a simple task. But the Last Will and Testament of Leonardo Xavier Cross is anything but simple. Though Parks has never heard of Cross, he learns that the Will directs that he provide the legal representation for the estate and as part of his fee he receive the contents of a safety deposit box – a safety deposit box no one knew existed. Intrigued, Parks undertakes the task but after the body count begins to rise the otherwise basic task of probating the will becomes more complicated as each day passes. Despite all of Parks’ skills, the answers he seeks remain elusive and force him to delve deeper into the shocking and deceptive Cross’ family history which sets the stage for an explosive finale that Parks can only hope to survive.

Set in Charleston, South Carolina, The Trust is the debut novel from Sean Keefer. Blending elements of traditional southern literary fiction, suspense, and mystery, you won't be satisfied until the final page is turned.
What Stephanie Thinks: With interest in both law (did I mention I was once an attorney for our school's mock trial team?) and mysteries, I really enjoyed Sean Keefer's legal thriller. The first half, to tell you the truth, is frustratingly slow-moving. There seems to be no point to the story, and a fear bubbled up from deep within me early on, suspecting it might have turned out to be one of those mystery novels where all the action happens in the last chapter. Fortunately, that isn't the case.

In the second half, once the pace of the book is finally set, there are so many twists and turns—deceit and revelation—that are masterfully timed, that I found myself constantly surprised. Rather than the heinous crime committed or the seemingly unsolvable question about what Noah has to do with Cross's will, it's the human betrayal, and what sick, distorted lengths it can stretch to, that had me on the tip of my toes. At first, everything doesn't fit together. I sat there with the book in hand, thinking, Oh, just give us some action already!, but in the final half of the novel, everything comes together beautifully, perfectly, and it all makes sense.

Keefer's writing style is plain. It's not simple in an elegant way, or aloofly guarded; it's just plain, nothing extraordinary. It's definitely not his writing technique that makes The Trust suspenseful. In fact, his tone is rather awkward; he doesn't particularly have a way with words. This detracts from the novel. Usually, suspense or mystery novels are carefully crafted and deceptively woven to trick the reader. With Keefer, there is no trickery going on, and his writing doesn't flow smoothly or appropriately. I can tell he is extremely observant and has creative intentions with his writing; he just has trouble penning them.

The rigidity of the author's style does make Noah, the main character, unlikable—his logic is forced and he doesn't seem genuine—but it doesn't take away from the surprise factor of the mystery. The last thing The Trust is is predictable. I literally felt my spine tingle while he and his love interest (yes, there is some romance!) discovered, to uncomfortable depths, more about the Cross dilemma.

The ending is totally unexpected; I did not see coming at all. With a riveting, complicated storyline, unanswered and recurring perplexities, and heavy, yet not unnecessary explanations of South Carolinian tradition and basic legal boundaries, The Trust is a dramatic, eye-widening read I overall am pleased with.

Stephanie Loves: "You're going to give me a complex if you're not careful.

Radical Rating: 8 hearts: An engaging read; highly recommended. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

In celebration of the author's birthday today, the lovely Terri Giuliano Long had him over at her blog for an awesome interview. I find it fascinating—her unique questions and Sean's informative answers make it a great engagement. Go check it out!