The Things We Keep By Janet Dawson: Review/Giveaway

Apr 15, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of the book, and a link to purchase it from Amazon. The ebook of The Things We Keep is free on Amazon through this weekend (the 16th is the last day), so if the winner already gets this book there, they can pick another ebook of their choice from the author.

As a favor for her fiancé, Oakland private investigator Jeri Howard is helping to inventory the contents of a Queen Anne home soon to be sold in the high-priced town of Alameda. Dan’s friend Noel Benjamin has been tasked by his Great-Aunt Gloria to have the home ready for the market, even though she claims to already have a buyer and won’t be placing it up for bid. Noel’s wife Lakshmi Srinivasan is less than thrilled with the chore, as the free-spirited Aunt Gloria has never been shy with the demands or the burdens she places on her “favorite” nephew. Jeri soon has reasons to distrust Gloria’s motives as well when they find a storeroom filled not with 60’s artifacts but with the skeletons of two bodies stuffed inside of a locker.

Alameda Police Department’s Lieutenant Bradley Chen seems more than capable of handling what looks to be a very cold case, but Lakshmi insists on hiring Jeri’s professional services to investigate. Lakshmi doesn’t trust Gloria or her reasons for wanting to suddenly sell the home, as Noel seems too blinded by familial attachment to question her aunt’s motives. Jeri’s research takes her to missing cases of 1969, when the Zodiac Killer loomed as a constant threat and preyed upon the community. Gloria’s involvement in the 60’s music scene also has Jeri delving into not just the former tenants but a band known as the Mad Monks, whose lead member went missing along with the daughter of a military officer. The contrast between the Naval Base population and the “free love” flower children was at its highest during this time, and the possibility of the tension leading to murder all too possible.

While Janet Dawson has most recently been authoring the Jill McLeod California Zephyr mystery series, I am so delighted to see the return of Dawson’s iconic Jeri Howard private detective. Janet Dawson was one of my favorite mystery authors I first began reading in the ’90s, with Jeri Howard one of the legacy female detectives alongside Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone, Susan Dunlap’s Jill Smith, and Margaret Maron’s Sigrid Harold. What always stood out in Dawson’s novels were the vivid depictions of San Francisco and its unique population, which included military personnel from its navy bases living alongside those who gave the city its earned hippie reputation. Jeri’s own family has always straddled between the two worlds, and here readers are shown that San Francisco can never entirely escape its past.

Longtime fans of Janet Dawson will be delighted in this latest installment of their favorite private detective’s adventures, especially as she continues to juggle daily cases with one that began in the 1960s. New readers to the series can also easily dive into this fun adventure that takes them back to San Francisco in its heyday, when the peaceful philosophies could never entirely escape the dark sides of humanity. From start to finish this is a compelling mystery with a private detective who has lost none of her trademark wit, intelligence, or investigative skills.

Editor’s Note: The ebook of The Things We Keep is free on Amazon through this weekend (the 16th is the last day), so if the winner already gets this book there, they can pick another ebook of their choice from the author.

To enter to win an ebook copy of The Things We Keep, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “keep,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen April 22, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode went up last week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Whoever thinks SF was idyllic in the 1960’s, obviously never watched Dirty Harry. Count me in!

  2. We have a winner!


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