Lisa Gardner (Gardner, Lisa)

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  • Gardner, Lisa: Live to Tell (D.D. Warren, Book 4)
  • Love You More
    by Lisa Gardner
    ISBN 0553591924 (0-553-59192-4)
    Softcover, BANTAM BOOKS

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    Book summary:

    One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?
    As the homicide investigation ratchets into a frantic statewide search for a missing child, D. D. Warren must partner with former lover Bobby Dodge to break through the blue wall of police brotherhood, seeking to understand the inner workings of a troopers mind while also unearthing family secrets. Would a trained police officer truly shoot her own husband? And would a mother harm her own child?
    . . . TO SAVE HER?
    For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable. A mother knows who she loves. And all others will be made to pay.
    Love you more . . .

    Guest Reviewer: Joseph Finder

    Joseph Finder planned to become a spy. Or maybe a professor of Russian history. Instead he became a bestselling thriller writer, and winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel for Killer Instinct and winner of the Barry and Gumshoe Awards for Best Thriller for Company Man.

    I just took a break from writing my new book to read the latest by Lisa Gardner, who's one of the very few writers on my must-read list. Usually, when I'm deep into a novel, I read very little in the genre. But Lisa Gardner sent me an advance copy of Love You More, and I pretty much dropped everything and read it through the weekend.

    I've been a fan of Lisa's D.D. Warren series for some time, but she's truly outdone herself with this one. It grabs you on the first page and keeps you guessing until the final chapter, moving effortlessly between first person and third person narration, weaving an extraordinary amount of research into nonstop action.

    Love You More starts with a crime we think we understand. Massachusetts State Trooper Tessa Leoni's husband Brian is dead in their kitchen, and Trooper Leoni has been beaten almost to death. It looks to everyone like a case of a battered wife defending herself at last. But Leoni's six-year-old daughter, Sophie, is missing, and the trooper's story is full of holes--holes that become even wider and more curious as Boston Police Detective Sergeant D.D. Warren and her old lover, friend and former partner Bobby Dodge investigate.

    Warren is dealing with issues of her own, as her relationship with Alex (who never appears in person in this installment) reaches a major turning point, one with implications for Warren's investigation and beyond. (I'm not going to give away what that is. You'll have to read it to find out for yourself.) The nature and power of Trooper Leoni's attachment to her daughter are central to this story: just how much does Leoni love her daughter, and to what lengths will she go to protect her? Is it possible that a mother so devoted could kill her own child?

    As Warren and Dodge follow the trail of clues, they uncover secrets at every turn: a terrible crime in Leoni's adolescence, a shameful secret of her husband's, and unimaginable betrayal among comrades and friends. Stakes escalate to a climax that is shocking, sad and deeply satisfying.

    Love You More stands out in the crowded field of thrillers not only because it's a terrific book, but because it features two compelling and believable female protagonists. Trooper Leoni tells us her own story in the first person, alternating with the third-person narrative of Warren's investigation. Leoni's motives emerge over the course of the book, but her passion and conviction draw us in even before we know whether she's guilty or innocent. We cannot argue with her absolute drive, even as we root for Warren and Dodge to make sure justice is done. It's a remarkable juggling act that requires rare talent, and readers will be anxious for the next installment in D.D. Warren's adventures.

    I've noticed that a lot of guys have some kind of prejudice against thrillers written by women. Take my word for it: Lisa Gardner has the suspense chops to compete with Harlan Coben, Lee Child, and Michael Connelly. Anyone who's already read Tess Gerritsen, Karin Slaughter, Sandra Brown, or Mary Higgins Clark knows that some of the most gripping thrillers around are written by women.

    If you haven't yet discovered Lisa Gardner, now's the perfect time to start. Love You More is going to win her a legion of new fans and launch her right to the top of the lists along with Nora Roberts and Tami Hoag--and Stieg Larsson.

    A Letter from Author Lisa Gardner
    True confession time: for a woman who makes her living writing extremely diabolical suspense novels, I have no stomach for gore. Scary movies? Cant watch them. Most of the crime shows on prime time? Egads, no way! Haunted houses? My husband has had to carry me out. Its embarrassing but true.

    So when I first received the invitation to conduct research at the famed Body Farm at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, I didnt know what to do with myself. As a forensics aficionado and thriller author, I just had to visit. A chance to learn first-hand how to search for buried remains? Or how to establish time of death for skeletal remains? Or the amount of forensic evidence that can still be retrieved from cremated bones? Sign me up!

    On the other hand, this would involve walking the fabled Deaths Acre, which generally features several hundred decomposing bodies. I had to consider not just what I was going to see, but what I was going to smell, touch, feel. The squeamish mom in me worried I wouldnt be able to take it. And no one wants to be the one who barfs in front of trained professionals.

    Whats a girl gonna do? Of course I went.

    The Anthropological Research Facility, aka the Body Farm, was founded in the early 80s by Dr. William Bass. Up until then, the discovery of decomposed remains often led to a time of death plus or minus several years. Obviously, this complicated the homicide investigation. Dr. Basss solution: bury a body, see how long it took to skelatonize, and scientifically establish a rate of decomp.

    Of course, many variables immediately came into play: buried or unburied, clothed or clothed, hot humid conditions, cold frosty conditions, animal activity, insect activity, etc., etc. In the end, Dr. Bass couldnt bury one body, he needed hundreds. Some donations were unclaimed remains from the MEs office. Hundreds of others are directed donations from people who wanted to contribute to the advancement of science after their death.

    This kind of generosity makes Deaths Acre less a macabre wooded plot and more like hallowed ground. Instead of listening to anthropologists merely analyze body parts, I heard stories of people and families, of victims and criminal prosecutions, of crafty murderers and even craftier forensics experts. I learned of stories told in bone.

    Interestingly enough, the more the head anthropologist Dr. Lee Jantz humanized the remains we studied, the more bearable I found the sights and smells to be. When I cradled the feather-light cranial plate of a newborn infant in my hand, I could both marvel as its rose petal size and feel the weight of one parents heart-breaking contribution. I was both mesmerized by the skeleton collection, which took up endless rows of metal shelves, and amazed by how a scientist such as Dr. Jantz could pick up a single piece of cremated bone and tell you the persons gender, approximate age, chronic health conditions and probable occupation.

    Bones, I learned, arent just body parts, but an organic record of who we are, what we did, where we lived, and often, how we died. And in the right hands, bones allow the dead to speak. Think a murderer can cover his tracks with a burn barrel and lighter fluid? Think again. Think you can thwart time of death by freezing remains? Nope. Think you can get away with murder? Thanks to forensic anthropologists such as Dr. Jantz, not likely.

    I came to the Body Farm expecting to be immersed in death, and instead, found a new appreciation for life. And while my family still refuses to let me tell stories about my research over dinner, I had a great time working with the anthropologists on my March 2011 release Love You More. Just remember, when you come to the key scene in the snowy woodsyoull know which one Im talking aboutI worked for that scene.

    I walked Deaths Acre, and I never threw up.

  • Lisa Gardner: The Neighbor
  • The Neighbor (A D. D. Warren Mystery)
    by Lisa Gardner
    ISBN 0553591908 (0-553-59190-8)
    Softcover, Bantam Books 2010-06-22

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    Book summary:

    Book Description From a master of suspense comes a chilling new novel that explores the dangers lurking closer than you think. Because even in the perfect family, you never know what is going on behind closed doors...

    This is what happened...

    It was a case guaranteed to spark a media feeding frenzy--a young mother, blond and pretty, disappears without a trace from her South Boston home, leaving behind her four-year-old daughter as the only witness and her handsome, secretive husband as the prime suspect.

    In the last six hours...

    But from the moment Detective Sergeant D. D. Warren arrives at the Joneses snug little bungalow, she senses something off about the picture of wholesome normality the couple worked so hard to create. On the surface, Jason and Sandra Jones are like any other hardworking young couple raising a four-year-old child. But it is just under the surface that things grew murky.

    Of the world as I knew it...

    With the clock ticking on the life of a missing woman and the media firestorm building, Jason Jones seems more intent on destroying evidence and isolating his daughter than on searching for his beloved wife. Is the perfect husband trying to hide his guilt--or just trying to hide? And will the only witness to the crime be the killers next victim?

    Amazon Exclusive: Lisa Gardner on the Making of The Neighbor

    A dozen suspense novels later, it still amazes me how little control I have over the writing process. Im a plotter. That means each time I start a novel, I feel compelled to map out the road ahead. Im going to write a very scary book where lots of people die, and this is how Im gonna do it. Sounds good. And yet, each and every time, by page five or so, that plan is blown out of the water. The plot veers off in a different direction. A character throws me for a loop. I dont know. You go to write a book and apparently, things happen.

    My latest release, The Neighbor is no exception. I started the book with a simple premise: I wanted a love interest for one of my favorite characters, hard-nosed Boston detective, D.D. Warren. How much fun would it be, I wondered, if D.D. fell for a guy suspected of murdering his own wife? Better yet, Ill make the guy a father of a four-year-old girl, because surely workaholic Sergeant Warren deserves a sexy, dark-haired man who also knows how to fashion pigtails and make Mickey Mouse pancakes. Perfect!

    Of course, I wanted a twisted storyline with lots of shocking turns. Not a problem. Most of my novels have been inspired by true crimes, and lets face it, there are no shortages of husbands currently resolving their marital woes by killing off their wives. Research cases were numerous and easy to find. If I now sleep with one eye open, well thats what happens when you spend six months immersed in the study of spousal homicide.

    Next, I needed some other suspects to stir the pot. What about a registered sex offender living on the same block as the missing woman? And what if the missing woman happens to also be a beautiful blonde schoolteacher, perhaps a natural favorite with her male students? See, now were having some fun. Add half a dozen deep dark secrets and were off to the races.

    This also led to more interesting research. I thought I knew what I needed to know about sex offenders. As wife and mother, Ive been very comfortable with the notion of shooting first and questioning later. Ive also had zero respect for female schoolteachers who engage in sexual relations with their students. A sex offender is a sex offender, even the ones who are pretty and female. Then again, sometimes during the research phase, I learn things that totally change the course of the novel.

    I started The Neighbor with a plan, and quickly ended up with a puzzle. At a certain point, I was writing the book simply so I could find out what was going to happen next. Did Jason Jones actually kill his wife? What was he doing on the computer night after night? And what about poor four-year old Ree, the last known person to have seen her mother alive?

    I thought D.D. Warren needed to a love interest. But maybe, what she really needs is to save a scared little girl, caught in the middle of a deadly game.

    Its possible theres a bit more to the story than Ive mentioned so far. Some other key characters that appear along the way, some rather unexpected developments. Because when you go to write a book, apparently, things happen. --Lisa Gardner

    (Photo © John Earle)

  • Lisa Gardner: The Next Accident
    The Next Accident
    by Lisa Gardner
    ISBN 073667635X (0-7366-7635-X)
    Books on Tape, Inc.

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  • Gardner, Lisa: The Perfect Husband: A Novel
  • Gardner, Lisa: Say Goodbye
  • Gardner, Lisa: The Survivors Club
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