The Keeper's Son

( 29 )

Overview

In 1941, Killakeet Island of the wind-swept Outer Banks of North Carolina is home to a tiny, peaceful population of fisherman, clam stompers, oyster rakers, and a few lonely sailors of the Coast Guard. Dominating the glorious, raw beauty of the little island is the majestic Killakeet Lighthouse, which for generations has been the responsibility of one family, the Thurlows.

However, Josh Thurlow, the Keeper's son, has forsworn his heritage to become the commander of the Maudie ...

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Overview

In 1941, Killakeet Island of the wind-swept Outer Banks of North Carolina is home to a tiny, peaceful population of fisherman, clam stompers, oyster rakers, and a few lonely sailors of the Coast Guard. Dominating the glorious, raw beauty of the little island is the majestic Killakeet Lighthouse, which for generations has been the responsibility of one family, the Thurlows.

However, Josh Thurlow, the Keeper's son, has forsworn his heritage to become the commander of the Maudie Jane, a small Coast Guard patrol boat operating off Killakeet. Josh is still tortured by guilt, seventeen years after losing his baby brother at sea. Then his life is complicated by the arrival of the beautiful Dosie Crossan, who has journeyed to lonely Killakeet to escape the outside world and perhaps find a purpose in life. While Josh's heart is stirred by the often-vexing Dosie, he continues his search for his brother, even after a wolf pack of German U-boats arrives to soak the island's beaches with blood and oil.

One of the U-boats is captained by Otto Krebs, a famed and ruthless undersea warrior. Krebs, a man also scarred by lost love, comes to Killakeet, however, with more than torpedoes and plans for war: He may have the answer to the mystery that haunts Josh Thurlow.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A gutsy Coast Guard officer battles German submarines and 17 years of unfettered guilt on the North Carolina coast in 1941 and 1942 in this high adventure yarn. Hickam, the author of the memoir Rocket Boys (which was turned into the film October Sky), knows a great deal about submarine warfare in WWII, as evidenced by his 1989 nonfiction naval history, Torpedo Junction. This is the first novel of a planned series about rough and tumble Coast Guard Lt. Josh Thurlow and his unusual patrol boat crew during WWII. Josh, 31, is a career officer assigned to Killakeet Island, along North Carolina's treacherous Outer Banks. Both he and his father-the keeper of the Killakeet Lighthouse-are haunted by the loss at sea and presumed death of Josh's two-year-old baby brother 17 years earlier. Shaken from his brooding by the appearance of German U-boats, Josh must try to protect the merchant ships torpedoed every night offshore. His patrol boat is small and ill-equipped, and his crew is a wacky group of casual islanders who aren't sure they really want to fight anybody. A talented U-boat commander named Krebs becomes Josh's honored enemy, but another U-boat skipper is a far more ruthless and dangerous adversary. Josh must fight both, as well as his suspicions that his little brother may not be dead after all; the reappearance of a childhood sweetheart leavens the mix. Hickam provides a vivid and convincing portrayal of life under the sea in a U-boat, as well as on the surface in a fragile patrol boat. Well-crafted characters, gripping naval warfare and colorful island life come together in this dynamic and exciting tale. Agents, Frank Weimann and Mickey Freiberg. (Oct.) Forecast: The success of the Rocket Boys trilogy should help launch this new series, as should an extensive author tour-Hickam is a practiced speaker. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The "Rocket Boy" is back with the story of Josh Thurlow, a Coast Guard commander during World War II chasing a U-boat captain who might just know something about his lost brother. With an eight-city author tour. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Nazi U-boats threaten the sweetly daffy residents of an island in the Outer Banks. Setting his irresistibly romantic WWII adventure on the fictional Carolina barrier island of Killakeet, long before the coming of the hulking cottages or the invention of time sharing, memoirist Hickam (Sky of Stone, 2001, etc.) successfully knits the true story of Germany's turkey shoot off the East Coast with the low-key lives of the fishermen, wild horses, lighthouse keepers, and other village types who had the beautiful place largely to themselves. Sturdy, smart Josh Thurlow, son of the present keeper of the Killakeet lighthouse has come back to the island after years away to take charge of the tiny Coast Guard station. Haunted by his responsibility for the disappearance at sea of his two-year-old brother Jacob, Josh has declined the inheritance of the family business, but he has thrown himself deeply into his new job, whipping the local lads who crew his rescue boat into a force capable of dealing with the certain menace of German submarines. Oddly, he seems to be the only officer in the Coast Guard able to see the vulnerability of the countless merchantmen who steam past the Graveyard of the Atlantic. And the Germans are indeed watching, particularly Kapitan Leutnant von Krebs, ace skipper of U-560. Krebs, who gained and lost the love of his life and acquired responsibility for a smart young orphan in one eventful visit to his childhood orphanage home, begins picking off the ships as quickly as he can launch his torpedoes. Josh gets no help from the higher-ups, but he can count on small-bore gunfire support from his recovering sophisticate girlfriend Josie who teams up with a Hollywood stunt rider asa mounted patrol. (It actually makes sense.) The situation worsens with the arrival of Supernazi sub skipper Vogel who has it in for Krebs. And that orphan on U-560, is it just coincidence that he's the exact age of the missing toddler Jacob? Or that he washes ashore after a crash dive? First of a series certain to seduce armchair sailors. Author tour. Agent: Frank Weimann/Literary Group International
From the Publisher
"Homer Hickam is the best natural storyteller I've read in years."

—Stephen Coonts

"In the best tradition of sea sagas, The Keeper’s Son is both beautifully written and nerve-wrackingly suspenseful. Homer Hickam is a master at creating atmosphere out of words, evoking time and place so that the reader becomes nostalgic for Mr. Hickam’s world. Homer Hickam’s first foray into fiction is a home run."

—Nelson DeMille

"With this book Homer Hickam expands his range as never before, into the realm of fiction, and the result is a compelling novel of war, romance, haunting guilt, victory. The Keeper's Son brings alive a special place and time, the Outer Banks of North Carolina before and during World War II, and the culture of fishermen, wreckers, surfmen and lighthouse keepers. It also gives the German side in a mirroring, parallel story that connects in a thrilling climax, revealing family secrets and conflicting loyalties. With a wealth of technical and historical detail, this is a story about learning to forgive ourselves, and learning to accept the gifts of life and love."

—Robert Morgan, bestselling author of Gap Creek and Brave Enemies

Stephen Coonts
"Homer Hickam is the best natural storyteller I've read in years."
Nelson DeMille
"In the best tradition of sea sagas, The Keeper's Son is both beautifully written and nerve-wrackingly suspenseful."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250037374
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/22/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 520,833
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Homer Hickam

Homer Hickam is the author of six previous books, most notably the #1 New York Times bestseller Rocket Boys, which was made into the acclaimed movie October Sky. He is a Vietnam veteran, a scuba instructor, a retired rocket scientist, and an amateur paleontologist. More than anything else, he loves to write. He and his wife, Linda, and their cats divide their time between homes in the Virgin Islands and Huntsville, Alabama.

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Reading Group Guide

Haunted by inner demons, Josh Thurlow returns home to Killakeet Island to command a small Coast Guard patrol boat manned by a colorful crew of locals. Dominating the glorious beauty of the little island is the majestic Killakeet Lighthouse, kept for generations by the Thurlow family. Its presence is a continuous reminder to Josh of the mysterious loss of his baby brother at sea seventeen years before, a tragedy for which he was blamed. But Josh is convinced that his brother might still be alive and begins searching for him even after German U-boats arrive and soak the beaches with blood.

Josh's quest puts him in the path of Otto Krebs-the most audacious of the U-boat commanders and a deadly enemy who may also hold the answers Josh is seeking. But when he meets Dosie Crossan, a young woman fighting her own war against the invaders, Josh must decide whether to risk all on a love that could destroy him or redeem him...

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 29 )
Rating Distribution

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(19)

4 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 29 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2007

    What a great story...

    For me this book started slow but I kept on reading and as I did, the characters became very real to me. I started to care about all of them...on both sides of the war. I still think it dragged in parts but I recommend it because of the story and the people. It also focuses on a part of World War II that most of us are not very familiar with. It is an easy book to read so give it a shot...I think you'll be glad you did.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2005

    An enjoyable read

    I like most of Homer Hickam's books and this one was no exception. I liked the pace of the book and the fact that we got into the lives of both the Americans and the Germans. I didn't quite feel the chemistry between the two leads and didn't find Josh to be particularly likeable. Also, I was a little disappointed in the ending. Without giving anything away, I felt a particular character's fate was accepted and that he accepted that fate too easily. A quick, easy way to wrap up the book that seemed a bit unbelievable.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2004

    Hickam at his Best

    The Keeper¿s Son is a wonderful story full of twists and turns. I cried when Miriam died. And Joe Johnston too. Rex¿s sorrow was deep and honest as was his anger at the Germans for killing his friend. People seldom talk about the animals that courageously and willingly gave their lives in our wars. It was refreshing to see someone do it in a story of this nature. Hickam reminds us gently that our enemies have lives and loves and hopes and dreams just like us. Plucky Dosie, spry and rebellious to the end. Finding a purpose and coming to peace with herself so she can relish life and love. Becoming a Killakeeter and taking joy in the sand and sea. The people of Killakeet are fun to get to know and a pleasure to visit with. There was only one thing I saw wrong with this book: it ended! The wrap-up chapter only whets your appetite for the next book. As with his other works, Hickam takes us on a wonder journey that is fraught with ups and downs as any life is. These people take us to a time when life was simpler and we were naïve as to what was happening. He invites us to leave our rat-race word for one of his own making and to become one with the sea. I await the next book eagerly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2004

    A page-turner

    Josh Thurlow and the people on Killakeet Island are great company. Hickam's gentle humor helps this tale along between battle sequences. This is one I liked and my husband, too!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2014

    Good read.

    Kept me intrigued and was a fast read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2012

    WWII on the outer banks

    Nice little read. It takes a while for the story to set up. It gets going about half way thru. Well researched historical fiction. Not necessarily the best story telling. Sometimes difficult to suspend disbelief with the luck and timing of the characters. Recommended if you have an interest in this historical subject.

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  • Posted September 14, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2004

    Heroic romantic adventure

    This is a book that grabs you up front and never lets you go. Homer Hickam has penned a neat adventure that's also romantic. Josh Thurlow is the hero, a man dedicated to his home, the island of Killakeet. Dosie Crossan is his girl, but she's not easy. Their back and forth encounters are a highlight of the book. Then there's the sea battles, the development of Captain Krebs and his girlfriend. There's tragedy, and comedy. Sometimes, I laughed out loud. Once I cried. You can't ask much more from a novel, can you?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2004

    A delicious read

    This is one of those books that simply absorbs your attention from the first page to the last. Josh Thurlow is the lighthouse keeper's Son who has grown up on the island of Killakeet of the outer banks of North Carolina. Now a Coast Guard officer, he is charged to patrol the coast of Killakeet. It is a time of war and the German U-boats arrive but this isn't a war story although there are some descriptive battles. It is at bottom a love story between Josh and Dosie, a horsewoman who has come to Killakeet to discover her inner strength after a so-far disappointing life, and between the simple but strong people of Killakeet. Written in prose that is Steinbeckian in its simplicity and power, this is a wonderful novel. I look forward to its sequels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2003

    A Bit of a disappointment

    This is not a bad book. It makes for an enjoyable read. But, it does not deserve some of the accolades that some reviewers are giving it. The story is really a framework to introduce a cast of character which will probably pop up again. The problem is that none of them are really likable enough to warrants another outing. There are also a few characters, the cowboy shore watcher for example that serve no real purpose. All of the Coasties are carbon copies of each other except for the boson. The Germans are fleshed out much better then the ¿heroes.¿

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2003

    Keeper's Son

    This is the story of the island of Killakeet of the Outer Banks during WWII. The characters are wonderful beginning with Josh Thurlow, the keeper's son, and Dosie, the quirky young woman who comes to this island of sand to bedevil and beguile him. It is also the story of Otto Krebs, a U-boat commander, and his Miriam, a woman who teaches this crude man the meaning of life and love. Woven throughout his Hickam's obvious love and appreciation of island life and the sea. You will become one of the population of Killakeet as you read this fine novel. It's a page-turner and you can't go wrong with it. Curl up in a chair, get your cup of hot chocolate, and simply immerse yourself in it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2003

    Keeper's Son

    A great adventure love lighthouse and sea story. It'll grab you from the first page. Hickam is a master of story-telling. I look forward to the next in the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2003

    A fine, fine novel that enthralls

    I'm an avid reader who lately has been so disappointed by modern novelists who fill their pages with awkward writing, potboiler plots, and uninteresting characters. Hickam is, I believe, potentially one of the writers of our time who will be read in the centuries ahead. His classic October Sky is probably going to become a book that students will study forever. His switch to fiction that is about 20th century nautical adventure and romance has created a work that may do much as Patrick O'Brian has accomplished for 19th century nautical fiction. This first in a series is a wonderful, humorous, yet deeply affecting work. It is difficult to imagine that Hickam will be able to improve on it in the works ahead. Yet, since I've been following this writer from the first, I think he will. Strongly recommended. Read and enjoy and imagine what might be yet to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2003

    Keeper's Son

    A super read. Love the new characters Hickam has created. Love the story. Nice twist at the end!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2003

    Keeper's Son

    Where shall I start? How about that I began reading and couldn't stop? Hickam's characters Josh and Dosie are so interesting as are the Maudie Janes and all the people on Killakeet Island. If this is a series as Hickam says in the epilog, then I can't wait for more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2003

    Something for Every Reader

    In his seventh book Homer Hickam expertly blends facts and fiction to entertain his readers with a love story set in some of the darkest days of US history. This is very different from Mr. Hickam¿s successful memoir books such as Rocket Boys but is a book that this reader believes will appeal to both men and women alike and earn him a new group of fans. The main plot revolves around Josh Thurlow, son of the lighthouse keeper, and Dosie Crossan, who has returned to the island to find herself. Years before, Josh's baby brother had been lost at sea and throughout his life, Josh had blamed himself. His every thought and decision in life was painted with the brush of guilt and an attempt at redemption for his actions. The book has a large cast of characters including Krebs, a German U-Boat commander with a conscience and Vogel, a Nazi commander without one, Harro, a young seaman under Krebs' command, Doc Folsom, the island¿s doctor, Willow, the local ¿hoo-doo,¿ and Rex Stewart, a Hollywood cowboy stuntman ineligible for the draft but 'drafted' nonetheless into the coastal horse patrol. Even though Otto is the enemy, he and Josh form a strange bond and respect each other professionally. And though Josh doesn't know it, Otto may hold the key to his brother¿s disappearance. This book is well researched with wonderful characters. The action holds your attention and shows a realistic picture of life at sea. It also describes day-to-day life on a remote island with such realism that you can smell the salt air and feel the sand in your shoes. Mr. Hickam writes with such attention to detail that the climactic battle scene will have you gripping the arms of your chair. The Keeper¿s Son should appeal to everyone. It has history, romance, local color and charm, eccentric characters and battles on land and sea. It will be a great book for the upcoming cooler weather. Curl up in your favorite chair with a cup of hot chocolate and be entertained and educated. This is the first book in a series and I anxiously look forward to the next book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2003

    Keeper's Son

    Mr. Hickam has written a wonderful, romantic, adventurous, magnificent book! I love the characters. They are so fresh and real. Josh and Dosie are the perfect lovers. When I read their scenes together, I was either laughing or felt a tear come to my eye. The colorful miscreants of Killakeet Island are a delight. I heard that John Steinbeck was Hickam's favorite writer and I can see the influence. I would compare this novel with Cannery Row for the characters within. But it was a bigger tale than that book, more East of Eden along the Outer Banks. The best thing I can say about any book is that it is a page-turner. The Keeper's Son is a page-turner but it is also much more. It will give readers something to savor, to admire, to enjoy. I look forward to reading this novel again and I don't usually do that. First in a series, too, according to the afterword. Can't wait!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2003

    Keeper's Son

    I think this is a very good book. I got it and was up half the night reading it. Not too many books grab me that way. I think women are going to like this one as much as men. Great characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2003

    Keeper's Son

    That Mr. Hickam is not a native son of the Outer Banks is truly amazing as he tells his fascinating story of German U-boats on America¿s east coast during World War II. His intricate knowledge, passion and storytelling skill weaves a gripping tale with characters so alive, the reader is right there with them in their frailties, their humor and their compassion. He portrays everyday people who are drawn into the inhumanities of war, regardless of their allegiances. Beyond that, he pays the ultimate compliment to the reader, who will be unable to read this novel without begging for historic knowledge of this little known incident, this unusual time and these remarkable people who were truly alone to fight their own war. Thankfully, at the end of the book he provides a wealth of sources. Oh! To have history taught with enticements like this novel!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2003

    Keeper's Son

    That Mr. Hickam is not a native son of the Outer Banks is truly amazing as he tells his fascinating story of German U-boats on America¿s east coast during World War II. His intricate knowledge, passion and storytelling skill weaves a gripping tale with characters so alive, the reader is right there with them in their frailties, their humor and their compassion. He portrays everyday people who are drawn into the inhumanities of war, regardless of their allegiances. Beyond that, he pays the ultimate compliment to the reader, who will be unable to read this novel without begging for historic knowledge of this little known incident, this unusual time and these remarkable people who were truly alone to fight their own war. Thankfully, at the end of the book he provides a wealth of sources. Oh! To have history taught with enticements like THE KEEPER¿S SON!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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