The Childkeeper by Sol Stein

The Childkeeper by Sol Stein
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Historical
Length: Short Story (120 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Roger Maxwell was a successful banker. He was the new owner of a beautiful old house in the country. He was the loving husband of a captivating and sensual woman. He was the proud father of four “great kids.”

Then, on one long holiday weekend at his isolated home, Roger Maxwell began to learn the truth about his children, his wife, and himself—as his whole world of illusion came apart in bloody pieces…

How well do you know your loved ones? Sometimes the people in this world that are the most difficult to figure out are the ones we care about the most.

Roger’s character development was well done. He was written so sympathetically that I liked him even when he made decisions that I didn’t agree with at all. What interested me the most about this character was how much time was spent describing where he came from and how it had impacted his current life. He felt like a real person to me, warts and all.

This story had some pacing issues. It took a long time for me to understand what the mystery was in it because so much time was spent introducing the characters and showing how they interacted with one another. For while I wondered if it had been marketed as the wrong genre because the plot took so much time to begin mentioning any mysterious events to the audience.

All of the dialogue sounded like real conversations. It has also aged nicely considering that this story was set several decades ago. I wasn’t familiar with all of the slang terms that the teenaged characters used, but I was able to figure out most of their meanings from context clues that were provided by the people they spoke to. One of the reasons why I enjoy historical mysteries so much is that they provide these short glimpses into how ordinary people used to live and think. There were plenty of interesting things for me to glimpse here!

I’d recommend The Childkeeper to anyone who is in the mood for a mystery that builds up slowly.

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