NetGalley Top Reviewer

NetGalley Top Reviewer
NetGalley Top Reviewer

Friday, March 18, 2011

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner

3.0 out of 5 stars More a psychologcal treatise than a suspense thriller...., March 18, 2011
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.

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