I've read almost all of Lisa Gardner's books (with my favorites being her Quincy and Rainie books). Lately, though, I was wondering if she had lost her mojo. I thought her last book, The Neighbor, was just OK. But I'm nothing if not loyal (until you write at least three awful books in a row), so I thought I'd give Gardner another try. Well, I'm glad I gave Gardner the benefit of the doubt because this book was one of her better ones.
There are a lot of books out there (including Gardner's books) that deal with twisted psyches and unimaginable violence. But what makes this book so disturbing is that it acknowledges that sometimes the twisted psyches belong to children. In her Author's Note, Gardner talks about friends of hers who had a troubled child and their struggles to find a way to save their son. Like Gardner, I tended to believe that troubled children were that way because of abuse and neglect. It is easier to understand how children who have been beaten, abused, tortured, or neglected become violent or primal. What isn't easy to understand is when a child with loving and attentive parents is violent. Isn't such behavior the result of nurture ... not nature? I think we all would prefer to believe this. But, as we learn throughout this book, that isn't always the case. Sometimes children are born without the psychological make-up they need to interact appropriately with others. Mental health professionals and facilities (like the locked-down pediatric psych ward described in the book) are working with these children to help them function in society.
This is Gardner's fourth D.D. Warren book, and I'm still unclear why D.D. is a recurring character as she doesn't seem particularly well-developed. Four books in and all I really know about her is that she is too involved with her job to have a life. Although Gardner attempts to give Warren a bit of romance in this book, I didn't find that storyline all that compelling, and I honestly don't give much thought to this being "A Detective D.D. Warren Novel." (A fact that was trumpeted across the front of my ARC.) To be honest, the characters of Danielle and Victoria were better developed than D.D.'s character. This doesn't really detract from the book, I guess. D.D. simply functions as the reader's way of getting information to solve the crime. Yet it seems a bit odd to create a detective and build books around her without giving her much of a personal life or back story.
3.0 out of 5 stars More a psychological treatise than a suspense thriller...., March 18, 2011
This review is from: Live to Tell: A Detective D. D. Warren Novel (Hardcover)
Although the book was a fast read for me, and despite the fact that it attempted to cover a lot of ground educating the reader about children with severe psychiatric issues, this fourth novel in the D.D. Warren series simply wasn't that compelling. The author uses her various characters shamelessly in attempts to lecture us about explosive and violent children as well as about the collaborative problem solving approach used by some psychiatric acute care facilities to manage the children that are held there.
The somewhat preposterous plot has Detective Warren investigating two family annihilations -- one right after another and seemingly unrelated. The cases eventually lead her and her team to a spiritual healer and to a locked down ward, the Pediatric Evaluation Clinic of Boston inside the Kirkland Medical Center. As the narrative unfolds, there seems to be some concern that the murders may have some connection to the unit.
After a child somehow escapes the locked ward, suspicious Warren starts questioning the employees. Her attention focuses on an RN who works there. Twenty-five years previous to the present cases, Danielle, sexually abused by her father, was the lone survivor of a family murder-suicide. The guilt she feels hasn't worn off even after years of therapy. Is she disturbed and dangerous?
In addition -- in what can only be the author's desire to show us the human toll of childhood mental illness and maternal devotion, there's Victoria, a single mom who has locked herself in her own house with her emotionally disturbed son, Evan, who is constantly threatening to kill her. How is this family connected to the other murders?
Who is Andrew Lightfoot -- ex Wall Street whiz turned spiritual healer -- and why is he constantly talking about darkness and light?
Finally in the last chapters, the convoluted story line comes together for a somewhat unfulfilling and totally predictable ending. A better exposé and more chilling book about the topic of disturbed children who just may have been "born bad" is the truly excellent We Need to Talk About Kevin: A Novel (P.S.) - one of the most chilling and unforgettable novels I've ever read.
The book wasn't a complete waste of time by any means, but it really didn't have a lot of suspense for me, it wasn't a police procedural, and the character of D.D. always talking about sex (or food) really irritated me. I don't care for her personality and am not interested in learning more about her. I love thrillers and would have preferred to have more "thrill" in this novel. Not really sure how the police aspect played into the subject matter and don't think it was very effective.
All in all, read it if you're a Gardner fan (I have read all her previous books) and one other note: it can be read as a stand alone, you don't have to have read the previous books in her series.
This book was FANTASTIC! It brings back one of my favorite Lisa Gardner characters Detective D.D. Warren.
The book is told from 3 different points of view. Danielle is a pediatric psychiatric nurse. Victoria is the mother of an extremely disturbed child and both are involved in the case Detective D.D. Warren is working on.
I don't want to give away too much of the story but this book easily draws you in. Each character is so well developed and their stories so interesting you can't help but get drawn in by them. I found the look into pediatric psychiatry extremely fascinating. This book has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing. I did finally figure out who did it but it was very interesting to see WHY. I'd definitely recommend this book to Lisa Gardner fans and to anyone that wants a good keep you reading all night thriller!
I like books where I can be entertained while learning something new. So, "Live to Tell" was just the ticket for this week's read. Gardner tells a good suspense tale while informing her readers about acute care pediatric psych wards and progressive approaches to the care of their young charges. The tension builds as you become familiar with the primary characters and grow to like them. About a 1/4 of the way in, I hated to put the book down for the night.
Warning: if you have small children, you may find this book disturbing as there is violence toward children.
The ending is a bit of a stretch, but the ride is worth the read. I like Gardner's style and will read more of her books.
I have read nearly all of Lisa Gardner's novels and she never disappoints. Her writing is extremely suspenseful and she has the ability to keep you guessing up until the very end of her stories. I think this was a great book and it is certainly worth reading.