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Book review: 'The Housekeeper's Son' entertains, surprises

By Alicia Cunningham

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, July 21 2012 1:00 p.m. MDT

"THE HOUSEKEEPER'S SON," by Christopher Loke, Jolly Fish Press, $28.99, 277 pages (f)

In his debut novel, "The Housekeeper's Son," author Christopher Loke introduces readers to Eleanor Ethel Rose, an elderly woman accused of stabbing to death a 12-year-old girl in a small Utah community in front of two witnesses.

Her crime is additionally shocking because Eleanor was recently released from prison where she served more than 40 years for killing her own son. While confessing her recent gruesome crime, Eleanor even hands over the murder weapon to the police. Despite her confession, possession of the murder weapon, and even the witnesses there is the possibility there could be more to this story.

That is what new journalist Victor Lee must discover. Following months of writing obituaries, Lee gladly accepts the assignment of interviewing Eleanor, but he is unsure of who he will find during his interviews at the prison. Is she mentally unstable? Evil? Possessed? What kind of woman stabs a little girl to death? What kind of mother is convicted of killing her own son?

Loke is a gifted storyteller, and readers will be thoroughly engaged through all 277 pages. In her prison meetings with Victor, Eleanor is determined to tell her story her own way, and it keeps readers interested, ready to read the next page and excited about new revelations to come in the next chapter.

But this is not a lighthearted book for a sunny summer day. "The Housekeeper's Son" is full of murder, physical and sexual abuse, suicide, a teenage pregnancy, animal abuse, as well as a same-sex forbidden love affair. In addition, the small section discussing Eleanor's trial will make any attorney cringe for its amateurish mistakes and should have been better researched or left out entirely.

After many meetings and hours together, Eleanor finds a way of telling Victor the truth, and what actually happened that horrible night is a fascinating twist and well worth the journey.

If you go ...

What: Christopher Loke book signing

When: Wednesday, July 25, 7 p.m.

Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City

Web: kingsenglish.com

Alicia Cunningham is a graduate of Brigham Young University and George Mason School of Law. A mother of four, she teaches American government and intellectual property law at Neumont University. She blogs at bloggingonbooks.wordpress.com

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