Look for Me (D.D. Warren #9) by Lisa Gardner

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: February 2018

Detective D.D. Warren arrives to a devastating scene. Uniformed officers, police cruisers, and yellow tape cordon off the home of a family of five. Four members have been murdered and the fifth — a sixteen-year-old girl — is missing. Unsure whether the teen narrowly escaped with her life or played a role in the tragedy, D.D. hunts for the girl while trying to piece together the family’s final moments. However, the detective isn’t the only one searching for the truth, so is survivor and vigilante Flora Dane. Both women want justice, but each has a different idea of what it looks like.

Look for Me delivers an adrenaline-charged page turner. Lisa Gardner pens a heart-wrenching tale of mistakes, second chances, and survival. Intricate characters pulled me in and had me vacillating between rooting for their escapes or captures. I did strongly suspect the killer’s identity early on, but the author had me second guessing myself a couple times.

Gardner masterfully toys with the reader’s emotions as D.D. and Flora uncover the events that led to the family’s murder. It felt like watching a car zoom straight for a cliff and being unable to stop it. The reader knows from the start that the family dies but desperately wants to find a way to prevent it.

I highly recommend that Look for Me stay within its intended audience as it contains strong language and mature content. Though it is number nine in the D.D. Warren series, it easily stands alone. To understand Flora Dane, you might want to read Find Her first, but it is not imperative to follow this story. Gardner and D.D.’s fans won’t want to miss this latest installment.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.

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Right Behind You (FBI Profiler #7) by Lisa Gardner

right-behind-youGenre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: January 2017

Eight years ago, Sharlah Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death to save their lives. Now thirteen, she has found a home with ex-FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer Rainie Conner. Trust, however, doesn’t come easily. Life has taught the young girl all-too-well of the evil that exists in the world. Still, she can’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe, she’ll finally get a shot at the family she’s never had.

When a shooting at a local convenience store leaves two dead, police identify the killer as Telly Ray Nash. As a manhunt ensues, it becomes evident that the hunted is on a hunt of his own, and his prey is none other than his little sister. With the number of bodies mounting, Sharlah must decide whether to run for her life or confront the brother she hasn’t seen since the day he killed for her.

Right Behind You delivers a gut-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller. Lisa Gardner expertly toys with the readers’ emotions dragging them through the entire feelings spectrum — more than once.

Without a doubt, Gardner’s novels straddle and even push the limits of my intense/dark tolerance level. Yet, her intricate characters and nail-biting suspense bring me back time and time again, and Right Behind You is probably my favorite. The author explores the importance of family and the devastation that can come from the broken relationships within it.

My heart went out to Sharlah immediately. Understandably, her tragic background has left her damaged and wary, but despite that, she has managed to hold on to a sliver of hope. For that matter, out of all the Gardner novels I’ve read, I would say this one had the most “hopeful” ending. That’s not to say the characters won’t have some serious baggage to wade through once all is said and done — and that’s not counting the issues they already had coming into the story.

The author brilliantly utilizes the wilds of Oregon and the various settings for her purposes, effectively isolating the characters and heightening the suspense.

Though Right Behind You is the seventh installment in the FBI Profiler series, the first six aren’t imperative to following the story. Until this one, I hadn’t read a Quincy and Rainie novel, and I didn’t feel lost once. As always, readers should be prepared for mature content and strong language.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.

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The 4th Man (An FBI Profiler/D.D. Warren Short Story) by Lisa Gardner

the-4th-manGenre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: January 2017

Five years ago, the strangulation of a young woman in the library stairwell rocked a college community. With no physical evidence, no signs of sexual assault, or witnesses, the police had to release the three men who were with her in the building — her boyfriend and two campus security guards.

Ex-FBI profile Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer Rainie Conner agree to help D.D. Warren look into the cold case. With only a dead girl and missing shoes to go off of, figuring out if the killer is one of their three suspects or a fourth they haven’t considered will prove to be only the beginning.

Lisa Gardner’s The 4th Man presents a classic locked-room mystery, in which the only thing more surprising than the killer’s identity is the motive. If not for the fact that the author garnered her inspiration from a real-life case, I would have thought the motive unbelievable.

Probably due to its length, this short story didn’t contain the depth found in Gardner’s novels. The characters, even the recurring ones, felt a bit like caricatures. D.D., notorious for her hands-on, dog-with-a-bone approach (the reason we all love her), seemed uncharacteristically detached. In fact, her willingness to simply present the facts to Quincy and Rainie and let them run with it made me wonder if she had actually solved the case and was testing her friends.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed piecing together the mystery and liked The 4th Man even more than last year’s short story, 3 Truths and a Lie. I recommend it to Gardner’s fans.

Review copy provided by publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Fiction Addict.

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Find Her by Lisa Gardner

find-her-lisa-gardnerGenre: Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: February 2016

Flora Dane endured the unthinkable. Kidnapped and held for 472 days, she somehow managed to survive. With the help of her FBI victim advocate, Flora has endeavored to re-enter society. But the shrine in her bedroom suggests she might not be readjusting to society as well as she claims—in fact, she’s haunted by the abducted girls who have never made it home.

D.D. Warren arrives at a crime scene. A would-be abductor is dead, and his captive has become his killer. When D.D. recognizes the woman as Flora, she is startled—this is the fourth time Flora has ended up in a kidnapper’s grasp, though the first time that death has been the result. What are the chances that one woman can be so unlucky as to be kidnapped four times? As a cop, D.D. doesn’t believe in coincidences, which leaves her to wonder whether the young woman is truly a victim or a vigilante who has just escalated to murder.

However, Flora’s past could prove vital to the rescue of the missing college student that has stunned Boston. When the young woman vanishes again, D.D. uncovers a much more sinister plot with a predator at the center who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane won’t make it out alive.

Find Her delivers a hair-rising, spine-tingling thriller. Lisa Gardner’s complex characters, vivid settings, and gripping storytelling hooked me from the start. Twists at every corner played with my mind as Flora’s dark, gut-wrenching tale unfolded.

Few authors can bring a story to life quite like Gardner who had me smelling the greasy fries, experiencing the pangs of cold and hunger, or tasting the bile and fear. This is one novel to read with all the lights on. At times, I even wished for a little less immersion — such as during the final confrontation or as the truth of what Flora endured surfaced.

Due to mature themes and strong language, this novel should stay within its intended audience. I recommend Find Her to Gardner’s fans as well as anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Life is Story.

The First Wife by Erica Spindler

the-first-wifeGenre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: February 2015

Bailey Browne dreams of being swept off her feet by a handsome stranger who will save her from her ordinary life. But everyone knows those are the things of fairy tales, not real life. Then, while on vacation, Logan Abbott appears. Despite their ten-year age difference and opposite backgrounds, they are instantly drawn to each other, and Bailey begins to wonder if Prince Charmings and Knights in Shining Armor really do exist. Before long, she accepts his marriage proposal and moves to his large horse farm in Louisiana.

But not all that glitters is gold, and soon Bailey’s visions of happily ever after start to crumble. A tragic family past, a missing first wife, and rumors of women disappearing from the area all point toward her husband and the possibility that he’s not the man she thought he was. When yet another woman vanishes, Bailey is forced to choose between listening to the rumors or standing by her husband — a choice that could cost her life.

I absolutely loved Erica Spindler’s Justice For Sara, and couldn’t wait to read her latest book. Unfortunately, The First Wife didn’t live up to the caliber of the previous novel. It was intriguing, but the riveting tension found in the former, lacked from this plot, probably in part due to the fact that its characters felt more like caricatures playing a part than 3D, flesh and bone characters.

Though Bailey is sympathetic in the role of the distraught wife who discovers her new husband’s dark history, her unwavering belief in his innocence comes across more as naivety than loyalty because at the end of the day they are two virtual strangers who married after a whirlwind romance. To be honest, Logan doesn’t give her too many reasons to trust him either.

With plenty of characters with both motive and opportunity to commit the various crimes, I definitely enjoyed piecing together the mystery. While the identity of the killer didn’t come as a shock, Spindler kept me jumping from one suspect to another until the very end, even tossing a few twists along the way. The killer’s motives, however, proved anti-climactic and flimsy at best. After the constant buildup, I definitely expected more.

I did really enjoy the set up of the novel. The book opens in the middle (with Bailey in the hospital for some unknown reason), travels back in time to how everything started, making its way to the present and then continues with Bailey trying to piece together the events that landed her in the hospital and consequently leads her to the killer.

All in all, The First Wife provides an enjoyable read even if it had a lot of untapped potential.

Review copy provided by publisher. Thanks!

**Originally posted on Life is Story.