Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Alone Hits All the Right Notes for the First Novel in the D.D. Warren Mystery Series

For some reason, I cannot get it together where Lisa Gardner's series books are concerned. More than a year ago, I listened to her novel Gone on audiobook from the library. Later, I realized it was part of her FBI Profiler series. In fact, it was the fifth book in that series. That made me crazy, as I like to read series books in order -- no exceptions! About six months later, I did the same thing again (!) when I read her novel The Neighbor via audiobook.

Seriously -- I had even written a post after the Gone debacle listing the FBI Profiler books in order. However, somehow, in all my research about Gardner, I had missed the fact that she had yet another series (the D. D. Warren series set in Boston). So you would think two times -- with the same author, nonetheless -- would teach me to check when I pick up a book whether or not it's a part of a series.

I bet you'll never guess what I did last week -- now for the third time. Yep, you guessed it. I started yet another Lisa Gardner novel without checking her list of books. I began listening to Hide on audiobook; about thirty minutes in, detective D. D. Warren entered the story. I immediately stopped the book, remembering my earlier foray into this exact same territory. Then I looked up the D. D. Warren series (for the second time), and discovered that I had read the third book, The Neighbor, six months ago. Hide is the second novel in the series. I logged onto Amazon and found that the Kindle version of Alone, the first novel in the series, was on sale for 99 cents. Major score.

Using the Kindle for iPod app, I read Alone for my bedtime reading last week. I enjoyed it thoroughly -- although I can't say I recommend it for nighttime. Gardner's first D. D. Warren novel is nothing if not creepy. The book focuses much more on Massachusetts state police officer Bobby Dodge than on Detective Warren. Dodge is a part of a task force that responds to specific calls -- kind of like a S.W.A.T. team for the Boston area. He catches a call one day and ends up shooting the alleged perpetrator, as his specialty is sniper.

However, after the shooting -- which seems to be a by-the-book, unavoidable police action -- Dodge's world falls apart. He breaks things off with his girlfriend; he visits the police-assigned therapist at odd hours; and he develops an inappropriate relationship with the perpetrator-turned-victim's widow. The wife, Catherine Gagnon, has a troubled past which seems to be related to this more recent tragedy in some way. When she was twelve years old, Catherine was kidnapped and held hostage for several weeks before hunters discovered her in a makeshift, below-ground room.

As the investigation into the shooting continues, more details about the Gagnons marriage unfolds -- and none of it is pretty. Jimmy Gagnon's father, Judge Gagnon, is convinced that his son was set up by the beautiful but remote Catherine. Even Dodge begins to doubt what he saw that night -- and whether or not he made the correct choice. Detective D. D. Warren enters the picture as the investigator into the case against Dodge.

I loved the character of Bobby Dodge. Gardner created him as both a macho character, yet one who incites sympathy. I found myself hoping the case would be decided in his favor, simply for his peace of mind. I also felt Gardner did an excellent job with Catherine Gagnon's character, at times painting her as a victim yet also causing readers to question her motives. The plot was equally spot-on, with exciting revelations and twists. Alone is not for the faint of heart, with flashbacks to Catherine's captivity and then additional present-day murders that begin to occur.

Finally, I'm up-to-date on Gardner's books (the D. D. Warren series, anyway), and I can rest easy in that knowledge! Now I'm back to Hide on audiobook -- which, incidentally ties enormously in to Alone. Without the background information from the first book, I would really be lost, even with Gardner's explanations.

In addition to Alone, Hide, and The Neighbor, Gardner also has last year's Live to Tell and a new release Love You More, which makes the fifth novel in the D. D. Warren series. Love You More actually hits bookstore shelves today and is definitely on my to-read list! Gardner kicks off a book tour for Love You More tonight. See her website for more dates and to find out if she's coming to a bookstore near you.

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