Regardless of the subject matter, Aaron Lazar's smooth, utterly readable prose never fails to draw the reader in. For Keeps features retired doctor Sam Moore, who Lazar fans will remember from Healy's Cave and Terror Comes Knocking. All Sam wants to do is enjoy his retirement years relaxing in his delightful garden, enjoying his wife Rachel's superb cooking, and playing with his grandchildren. Sam, however, is a man who seems to attract drama, and in this story, he is drawn into a murder mystery that becomes more and more personal, threatening to undermine his sanity and destroy everything he cares about. Sam Moore is an exceptionally well drawn character. Existing fans of this series will enjoy the progressive story of Sam, as For Keeps goes deep into his psyche, revealing his long suppressed pain and a surprising number of secrets. For new fans, For Keeps provides enough backstory to enable this book to be read as a standalone novel.
Throughout the rapid plot development, Sam’s past is revealed slowly, and his emotional tension worked out without ever undermining his compelling integrity. Though Sam has more to hide than he indicates when he tells his friend Lou that he has no secrets from his wife Rachel, the reader nevertheless comes to empathise with him greatly as he uncover the events that threaten his world and the people he loves. The other characters in the story pivot around Sam, including Sam's wife Rachel, who is struggling with MS; the slightly inept and ever-hungry officer Ned Olsen; Sam’s daughter Beth and her prescient girlfriend Nellie; Sam’s daughter-in-law Maryellen, who struggles to cope with two wild young children while her husband, Sam's son, is off in Iraq. Clearly this is a world where family is of prime importance. The loving and realistic depictions of family life are part of what makes this novel so satisfying:
One of the things that links the family together is Sam's incredible garden. This is the hub of the Moore household, and there is enough rich loam, and ripe vegetables to make the reader’s mouth water:
"Three foot high elephant-ear-sized leaves shaded the squash proliferating beneath. Sam stepped high to avoid trampling the vines. Leaning over to brush aside the prickly leaves, he ignored the overgrown fruits and chose a tender selection of Middle Eastern squash, the cousa variety. His particular favorite was a light green-skinned beauty named Ghada. He selected four prime specimens."