Publisher’s Point: The Record Keeper

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Have you ever had a book that grabbed you so hard that you were sorely tempted to stay home from work, or stay up all night, or find any excuse in the world to finish it instead of doing what is considered by most to be the responsible, adult, grownup thing or things to do? A book that once again proves to you that you really can make the time to do the things that are important to you? Well, in my case, this is the third time I have gone through this with a particular author by the name of Charles Martin.

Charles is a New York Times best-selling author who has written multiple novels. I got completely hooked on his character, Murph Shepherd, who in the series also as a writer has the pen name of David Bishop. This happened on the first page of the first book of the trilogy, and that one is called The Water Keeper. Murph’s full-time job is to rescue young people from human trafficking, mostly girls, and most of the first book takes place on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway. The second is called The Letter Keeper, and it gives more of a backward look simultaneously with a future of hope, love, and purpose that are nearly destroyed. The third is called The Record Keeper, and it is the most skillful, jarring, unsettling portrayal of “the Good Shepherd leaving the 99 and going after the one” that I have ever heard. I was undone by it. There were times I was glad I was completely alone either in my car or at home as I listened to the Audible version, because of the visceral prayer and snot-bawling surrender to that same Good Shepherd who was asking me to do things I just didn’t want to do. The beauty of the entire production indeed made it easier to say yes with no strings attached.

Speaking of the Audible version, I was captured by the expertise of the narrator, Jonathan K. Riggs. Sometimes, unless a book is read by the author, having someone else try and do the voices of the various characters is just plain annoying. In this case, that simply is not so. Mr. Riggs does such a subtle, supple job of moving back and forth between the voices of the characters that I know that I will hear his voice when I go back and actually read the book by turning the pages. The benefit of the impact made by the narrator was not something I was expecting.

Be advised, this is not an easy read. I found myself being additionally repulsed by the necessary exposure of the fact that victims of human trafficking include boys. That it happens in the church makes it worse, and I know men that may have a difficult time getting through those chapters because of what happened in their youth with those who should have been trustworthy. However, if they choose to read The Record Keeper, they will encounter a level of redemption and reconciliation that will make their understandable discomfort worth it. It will seize you right up, and if you let it, it will change you forever for the better.