My first experience with Lisa Gardner was an overwhelmingly positive one. I’d been attracted by reviews and descriptions of this recent release for weeks, and was excited to find it available to me right before leaving for our road trip to Arkansas at the beginning of the month.
A few key elements:
- female detective with personal life. Detective D.D. Warren’s former boyfriend is also her former work-partner, and in this book she has to work with him once again. Her current boyfriend is largely off-screen. She’s pregnant and in denial about it.
- female state trooper has apparently shot her husband who has apparently been beating her. Tessa’s six-year-old daughter is missing. Tessa is well acquainted with processes of criminal investigation, etc., and therefore very able to assist, or thwart, D.D.’s efforts to figure out why the husband is dead, why Tessa shot him (she did shoot him, right?) and most importantly, where’s little Sophie?
- suspense!! edge-of-my-seat, staying-up-too-late-on-Thursday-and-Friday-nights-before-my-big-race-on-Sunday (thank goodness I finished it before Saturday night), thrilling, adrenaline-junkie suspense.
- police procedural with all the details, including interdepartmental pissing contest.
- strong sense of place. I’m not real familiar with Boston but the details felt authentic to me; neighborhoods, social strata, housing trends and home values are discussed. This was very much a real place.
These are some elements that make me very, very happy about genre fiction. This is some of my favorite stuff. As I’ve mentioned repeatedly in this blog, I have a theory that the current trend in fiction (apparently even in my beloved bloody-violent genre) is themes of maternity and family, and it tends to annoy me a bit. These themes were present here: D.D. is panicking over her unwanted pregnancy and the idea of reconciling it with a career in law enforcement; Tessa provides a perfect example of how wrong this combination can go. The two women’s situations are clearly not only entwined but allegorical. This didn’t bother me a bit. D.D. is all business, no mushiness, no sentiment. Tessa loves her daughter very much, but it’s not mushy for her either. They’re both strong women, and I was fine with the maternal angles in this case.
This was a murder mystery that had everything I ask for, including wild plot twists (I was so caught off guard! repeatedly!) and surprises, and a wild build-up of action and violence to the finish. And yea, okay, some of the final crescendo of action and gore was a bit unrealistic but come on, I don’t read this kind of book because it’s realistic in its minutia. It was well within my ability to comfortably suspend disbelief.
All the thumbs are up. I shall be seeking out more Lisa Gardner. Well done!