The story in Charleston is that money has begun to come back to some of the old families; and money, it is said, has become a motive where once people were content with the antiquity of a name.
— A Turn in the South by V.S. Naipaul
I trust Noah Parks. His southern charm and humbleness blend seamlessly with Charleston’s historical and religious foundation. He understands that sometimes, people’s emotions don’t always mix with the law, making his patient and compassionate personality more than a virtue, but a necessity. However, his flighty and unreliable assistant, Heather, seems to flirt more than function. Not too surprising why he keeps her around. After all, her “girl next door”, just rolled out of bed beauty, athletic yet feminine aura make her irresistible.
What surprised me was Mr. Thomas’ arrogance as he sauntered, unscheduled and unannounced, into Noah’s office, commanding attention as if he was his only potential probate client. He had some nerve interrogating Mr. Parks, as if he would have any idea why the Last Will and Testament of Leonardo Xavier Cross, a complete stranger, would have listed him as legal representation for the estate. I was about ready to escort Mr. Thomas’ out of the office myself; until I heard him say that payment for services rendered would be found in a mysterious safe deposit box. What could possibly be in that box that would matter? Noah must have been as curious as I was, because he took the job, in spite of this stranger’s antagonistic display.
It didn’t take many pages into The Trust, A Novel By Sean Keefer, before I felt like I was standing in the middle of Noah Park’s office, taking notes and filing papers.
“The practice of law tends to generally be quite formal, often painstakingly so. I try to dial back the formality whenever I have the chance or when I’m some place, say in my office, where I feel formality actually adds tension. Feel free to call me Noah. Please, I insist.”
The Trust is a fast-paced, legal thriller, intricately woven from Sean Keefer’s background as an attorney and his southern roots. His intelligent and clearly defined characters create depth and sincerity, making this novel effortless and entertaining to read. Keefer doesn’t waste any time setting up the scenes, but instead, lets them unfold before our eyes like a movie. We are immediately introduced to Noah Parks, a probate attorney, who is propositioned by a complete stranger, Mr. Thomas, to represent the estate of Leonardo Xavier Cross. Despite Mr. Thomas’ highly unfriendly presentation, Noah takes the job out of curiosity. He will be paid with the contents of a mysterious safe deposit box. Although Mr. Thomas paints a dreary picture of the dysfunctional surviving Cross family, Noah ends up uncovering some very unsettling and disturbing truths of his own, especially after multiple, unexplained and sudden deaths occur. This causes him to be anxious and stand-offish when he is approached by Anna Beth, the daughter of the deceased Mr. Cross. Now he must decide whose truths he is going to believe, Mr. Thomas’ or his own.
Keefer does a great job of planting seeds throughout the novel without giving away the whole garden. As the reader, it was nice to only have as much information as the narrator, Noah, making this a true mystery. He takes us on a journey through historic Charleston, along the coast line, through the well-mannered towns and up and down the bustling city streets. His conversational writing style produces on environment of familiarity.
I could relate to Noah Parks. He projected confidence and optimism on the outside, yet continuously gave himself personal encouragement. He was slow to make decisions, worrying he might not have considered all of his options or misread the situation. This made him approachable and inviting. His imperfections are what make him so likable.
“There comes a time when it’s best to take a step back and spend a moment in contemplation of the path that has led you to your present situation. In these times, I find a moment of reflection gives me a degree of perspective. It also gives me a pretty accurate glimpse of where I might be going. / From time to time I take such a pause and, more often than not, I’m able to realize when things are about to become complex.”
Further into the book we are introduced to Gabriel, Noah’s best friend and connection to the police department. This adds another element of perspective as bits and pieces of Noah’s past trickle through the conversations. We start to see how Noah’s past intermingles with his present, affecting his ability to make decisions and develop relationships.
This was a perfect summer read for me as I basked in the Virginia sun last week, absorbing the sweet and salty air of the coastline. I was so engaged that I just couldn’t put the book down, worrying I would miss something. Sean Keefer keeps dropping twists and turns until the very last page, making it virtually impossible to get ahead of the characters. I feared for Noah’s life, shared in his elation as he solved the mystery and kept hoping there would be one more page.
“It’s a funny thing how realization happens to a person. First you have confusion. Then, slowly, confusion fades to partial clarity. Then the fade reverses itself, clouding things again. Then, sudden enlightenment.”
*This book review is part of an official book tour with Novel Publicity.
Please vote for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll for this tour. The blogger with the most votes wins a free promotional twitterview and a special winner’s badge. I want that to be me! You can vote in the poll by visiting The Trust’s official blog tour page and scrolling all the way to the bottom.
You can also enter to win a free paperback copy of this novel on The Trust’s official blog tour page. The winner of the give-away will be announced on Wednesday, August 10 – be sure to enter before then!
Book Trailer for The Trust: