St. Martin's, Oct 2004, 24.95, 352 pp.
In London barrister Trish Maguire works with Antony Shelley as they represent a group of small food producers in a “no win, no fee” breach of contract civil suit against the ruthlessly run giant Furbishers Food supermarket chain. The clients insist the chain tendered profitable contracts that led to the firms over extending themselves, but that the supermarket giant acted in bad faith just enough to cause their clients' bankruptcy.
Meanwhile Trish and her friend Caro Lyalt suffer food poisoning from tainted sausage. This sends Will Applewood, who has the hots for Trish, to investigate the bad bangers. He traces a trail of spoiled carcasses sent from Kent to Normandy for processing, but a reporter covering the scam is murdered. Trish begins to have doubts about one of her clients who seems to have either gone over the edge, but to verify this may prove deadly even as she works a second case involving child abuse.
KEEP ME ALIVE is an insightful look at the meat processing industry (at least in the European Union though America is probably similar) that will stun readers with the process. The story line is action-packed in and out of the court room so that the audience receives a solid investigative legal thriller in which the barrister may be the star but is not the prime investigator. Trish's second client adds depth as the barrister has to find time to do justice to both cases. Although allusions to Trish's past are sprinkled throughout the novel, these are never adequately explained so that the audience has no anchor.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner