From the Publisher
"An impressive debut...Keeper is one to hang on to."—People
"Crisper, tighter and tougher...A keeper as a novel!"—San Francisco Chronicle
"Riveting...Keeper is full of surprises."—Houston Chronicle
"Keeper pulls at the heart-strings and brings tears to the eyes....A remarkable first novel."—Orlando Sentinel
"The book is a keeper."—Boston Sunday Globe
"Keeper is no ordinary thriller....Remarkable."— Denver Post
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The world of the professional bodyguard provides the arena for this no-nonsense first novel. Atticus Kodiak, 28, is hired to protect Felice Romero, director of a Manhattan abortion clinic targeted by militant pro-lifers. The pros and cons of abortion are intelligently presented as Kodiak tries to protect his client and her daughter, who's afflicted with Down's syndrome. Soon the bodyguard, whose girlfriend has just undergone an abortion, finds himself personally committed to his client. Bomb threats, shootings and several murders, one particularly tragic, heat up the action, driving the narrative toward an explosive climax at a cemetery. Rucka's prose is clean and visual, his characterizations and dialogue are economical and his storytelling scoots along at a fast clip. A few top crime writers-Robert B. Parker in the Spenser series, for instance-have wandered into bodyguard territory. Rucka has the talent to make it his own, however, especially if he spins this trim tale into a series. (June)
First novelist Rucka delivers a story as timely as today's headlines. Atticus Kodiak, a bodyguard by profession, gets caught in the middle of a demonstration on the day he brings his girlfriend to the Woman's LifeCare Clinic for an abortion. The clinic, run by Dr. Felice Romero, has been targeted by the Sword of the Silent, a group of pro-life fanatics run by the megalomaniacal Jonathan Crowell. Because of escalating tensions between the pro-choice and pro-life factions, cooler heads schedule a peace summit of sorts, christened Common Ground. Romero plans to attend, but when she receives some very nasty and specific threats by mail, she hires Kodiak and associates to keep her and her daughter safe. This is a tense and exciting novel filled with some odd characters. Recommended for popular collections.-Dawn L. Anderson, North Richland Hills P. L., Tex.
Bodyguard Atticus Kodiak isn't the kind of knuckle-dragger who accompanies a Mafia don, but a Brooks Brothersattired pro trained by the government's Executive Protective Service. When Atticus accompanies his significant other to an abortion clinic that has been targeted by a militant right-to-life group, he inadvertently finds his next assignment: protecting the clinic's director, Dr. Felice Romero, from an escalating terror campaign. Rucka's novel is hardly great literature, but it is an engrossing read from two disparate perspectives. First, the book is filled with a proceduralist's insights into the difficulties faced by bodyguards in protecting anyone from deranged assailants, and, second, the author's scenes of orchestrated violence employed by the antiabortion group and his characterizations of people twisted enough to murder to protect life are chilling and have real narrative energy.
First novel about a professional bodyguard hired to protect the director of a women's health clinic in New York City.
Atticus Kodiak meets Dr. Felice Romero when he brings his girlfriend, Alison, to her clinic for an abortion. In just a few days, Romero is scheduled to kick off a massive conference on abortion; her idea is that pro-life and pro-choice forces can all air their views and vent their passions and, perhaps, come to some common understandings. But Romero's life is being threatened and she's frightened, if not for herself then for her daughter Katie, a sweet, innocent girl with Down's syndrome. The probable source of the threats is Jonathan Crowell, a charlatan and demagogue with a known history of urging violence against those involved in abortion. Feeling odd and even rather guilty after Alison's abortion, Atticus agrees to bring in his team to guard Romero round-the-clock, but hardly has the job begun when Katie is brutally murdered. Her death is certainly affecting, but newcomer Rucka can't quite control the results: Romero staggers through the narrative like a zombie, and Atticus never really overcomes the reader's sense that he's incompetent. Matters aren't helped much by Rucka's portrayals of two unpleasant women: Alison, who calls Atticus in the middle of his trials to announce she wants to break up; and a brash private investigator, Bridgett, whose presence seems, at best, contrived. Then, too, Crowell's villainy is something of a red herring, the real tale having more to do with the search for Katie's insane killer than with the battle over abortion. What Rucka does manage to suggest is a sense of ordinary people somehow battling through a time of panic and terrible stress.
There's too much feeling here for a purely commercial effort, and too many concessions to suspense for a thoughtful statement about abortion. Powerful, but uneven.
Read an Excerpt
Much as I wanted to, I didn't break the guy's nose.
Instead, I kept both hands on Alison's shoulders, using my body as a shield to get us through the crowd. At six feet and over one hundred and ninety pounds, I'm big enough to be intimidating, even wearing glasses. People normally get out of my way when I want them to.
But the guy stuck with us, even going so far as to lean his face closer to mine. His teeth were the product of either good genes or expensive orthodontia, and the fire was hot in his eyes. He yelled, "Don't let her murder your son!"
Another man pushed a camera at us and snapped a quick photograph, reflecting us in the lens. Over the prayers of several people who pleaded with Jesus to save the soul of our unborn child, I could hear the photographer say, "We won't forget you." Whether that was directed at us or the fetus wasn't clear.
Alison said nothing, her head low and near my chest, one hand around my back, one on my arm. I'd never felt her hold me like that. It almost hurt.
A young black man wearing a safety-orange vest over his T-shirt opened the glass door for us. As we went past he said, "Damn. We don't usually get this." He closed the door behind us, then turned and gave a nod to the uniformed security guard, who buzzed us through a second door, letting us into the ground-floor reception room.
For a disorienting moment we stood there, on the neat checkers of linoleum, still clinging to one another. New faces all around looked back, some embarrassed, some sad, some carefully blank. Eight women, waiting on chairs and couches, and only two of them looked obviously pregnant. One had a baby in her arms. Somehow the child could sleep through all the noise from outside.
A nurse behind the desk said, "Your name?"
Alison let go of me. "Alison Wallace."
The nurse checked a printout on the counter, then nodded. "You want the second floor. Through that door, down the hall, take the elevator or the stairs." She smiled at Alison. "Check in at the counter there." Then the nurse looked at me and asked, "You'll be going up with her?"
"It's Atticus," Alison told her. "Atticus Kodiak."
I took Alison's hand. We went through the door and down a long hall, past a lounge and several examination rooms and offices. We passed a doctor in the hall and he gave us the same smile the nurse had.
Alison wanted to take the stairs. "I'll get to see the elevator after," she said. She let go of my hand when we reached the second floor, stepping into another waiting room, almost identical to the one on the ground floor but with nicer furnishings. More couches and chairs, magazine racks, coffee tables, a coffeemaker, a television. The walls were painted light blue, with white detailing at the trim. At the opposite side of the room from the stairway was a glass partition where more nurses were controlling intake. There was a door beside the partition, and I figured it led to the procedure and recovery rooms. Another door on the wall to the right of that had a sign on it reading "Education and Services."
Alison told me to sit down, then went to the partition and checked in. We filled out her paperwork together, and I had to sign a waiver and a release form, not unlike the forms you fill out before getting your wisdom teeth pulled. Alison returned the completed paperwork, and we sat together for another forty-five minutes before the nurse called her name. I gave her a kiss on the cheek before she rose.
"This is the right thing," Alison said.
She returned my kiss with dry lips, then went with the nurse. She didn't look back.