Author: Melissa F. Olson
Genre: Mystery Fiction
Series: Lena Dane Mysteries #1
Trade Paperback, 344 pages
Publication: June 20, 2014 by Westmarch Publishing
Source: I received a review copy from the author/publisher in exchange for a honest review.
Former Chicago cop Selena "Lena" Dane has been going through the motions at her private investigation agency for years now. But then Lena learns that she's unexpectedly pregnant just as she takes on a heartbreaking new client: Nate Christianti, a fourteen-year-old boy in search of his biological father, Jason. Jason's disappearance isn't as clear-cut as everyone had thought, and Lena will need to follow his path of destruction halfway across the country to find Nate some answers. Along the way, however, Lena attracts the attention of a killer who's willing to stalk her all the way back to Chicago to make sure she drops Nate's case. To protect the boy, the baby, and herself, Lena must find the killer - or die trying.
I haven’t read a mystery or non-paranormal book in awhile, so it was a nice change when I picked up The Big Keep. The Big Keep is centered on Lena, an ex-cop turned Private Investigator after a horrible incident involving a team member on the police force. At the start of the novel, Lena discovers that she’s pregnant. But not wanting to quit working Lena keeps the pregnancy a secret from her husband Toby. Lena doesn’t think it’s much of a big deal as the case she ends up accepting involves helping a teenager, Nate find his biological father. No biggie right? What should have been a quick and easy case turns dangerous as Lena is stalked by an unknown person hell-bent on stopping Lena from finding Nate’s biological father.
The Big Keep started out a bit slow. It wasn’t till I was a few chapters in, that the book got my attention. As with cases, Lena had to research and dig to find Nate’s dad, Jason’s whereabouts. But once Lena got going and discovered more about Jason, that’s when all the action starts. I am a big fan of Olson’s Scarlett Bernard series, so it came as no surprise that I ended up loving these characters just as much. Olson has a way of creating very real and relatable characters that just leap off the pages; from the main characters to the secondary and tertiary characters…every single person was fully realized and developed. I really liked Lena, she’s definitely a tough chick that does what she wants and isn’t afraid to put others before herself (or her unborn child). When Lena works on her case, she isn’t just working to make money but she literally throws herself into it and takes every case personally like they were family.
While it’s admirable to be determined and brave (Lena working on Nate case regardless of someone pointy telling her to stop or they’ll go after her and her baby/the family). It was reckless and selfish at the same time. I didn’t like the fact that Lena didn’t tell Toby right off the bat she was pregnant, especially when she knew how much he’s dying to have kids. Yes, readers do find out the reasoning behind it and I understood the why. The reasoning is so traumatic for Lena, it’s still affecting her year(s ?) later. But I still couldn’t get over it. Lena knew what she was doing every time, not only is she putting herself in danger but that of her unborn child. I wasn’t cool with that. So every time Lena knowingly put herself in harms way, I just cringed while reading it which inadvertently pulls me from the story. Lena is very stubborn woman, and while I hoped she’d be more careful after the first dangerous situation, she wasn’t. Other than that, overall…Lena was a good-likeable heroine.
Bottom line The Big Keep was a very enjoyable read and I found myself liking it more than I expected; regardless of my little problem with Lena’s choices. The mystery was well done, so well, that when the big reveal came I was totally shocked. Let me just say I didn’t see that one coming! Love the story and the all the characters. Lena’s family is just too wonderful and adorable and Nate is such a smart and lovable kid. His story was all sorts of heart-breaking but everything turned out great in the end…yup, I was very happy with how it wrapped up (case and story wise). I highly recommend The Big Keep! If you’re a fan of Olson’s Scarlett Bernard series then you won’t want to miss this new series!