Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Neighbor / by Lisa Gardner

The last thing Detective Sergeant D.D. Warren needs is a media frenzy surrounding her current investigation. Jason Jones is husband to Sandra Jones, a woman who disappeared in the middle of the night, leaving her purse, car keys and 4-year-old daughter behind without a trace. Jason's also the kind of hunky face that TV cameras love. Ditto for his young, blond wife who's not only stunningly photogenic, but has the kind of shady reputation--possible infidelity--which D.D. can't seem to get a firm angle on and which will inevitably beget numerous conspiracies if information is leaked and things linger. Regardless of the evidence (or lack thereof), the case has all the makings of another Nancy Grace-led TV news cacophony. Throw in a paranoid, possibly culpable sex offender living right around the corner and a plethora of other questionable neighbors in this regentrified south Boston neighborhood and D.D. has to be extra sharp and ultra fast to get to the bottom of this caper. Initially, at least, there's no direct information that would indicate a homicide, that is until D.D. discovers the 4.5 million dollars sitting untouched in the couple's bank account, evidently an inheritance left them some time ago. Why would a young couple work two full-time jobs--he a reporter, she a middle school teacher--and live a comparatively modest lifestyle while leaving a hefty nest egg just sitting idle? And why is Jason so worried about this sex offender guy who, despite his obvious history, seems to have nothing to do with anything? It's not the only thing that doesn't add up, nor is it the last little surprise to sneak up on D.D. in her quest to find out what happened as the story unfolds.

Suspense author Lisa Gardner hits it big in this highly entertaining bestseller which does well to balance an enthralling story with the charming nuances of a sympathetic protagonist. There's kind of a lot going on so it might seem like a hefty amount for the reader to process, but Gardner lays it out nicely, narrating the plot through four feature characters and giving her heroine the proper scope and incentive to face the challenge. D.D.'s not going to apologize for her faults, and she's not without them--falling for Jason's good looks, snap judgments on certain "neighbor" suspects, flawed interrogation tactics--but she's equally ready to confront any conflict and backtrack through her mistakes to remedy any errors. The author definitely knows her high profile news cases, referencing several of the more recent, over-sensationalized kidnapping/murder stories (Scott Peterson, Elizabeth Smart, Natalee Holloway, etc.) which have gotten a lot of run in the last few years. (MYS GARDNER)

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