Review #22: Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner

Live to Tell is part of the D.D. Warren series. In this tale, Gardner uses three distinct characters’ narratives to interweave her story. First is D.D. Warren, who is a detective on the Boston PD. D.D (ugh worst character name), has been called in to the scene of a brutal “family annihilation” where the father apparently went on a rampage, killing his whole family and then turning the gun on himself. Merely days later D.D. and her team are called to another, very similar scene where everyone is dead and the father appears to have killed himself. The two families seemingly have nothing in common, but as D.D. detects further they discover one link between the families. Danielle Burton is a nurse at an acute psychiatric ward for children. She is one troubled lady, being the sole survivor of her father’s brutal rampage on her family 25 years earlier. Not approaching the anniversary of her family members’ deaths, she finds herself having to cope with more than she might be able to handle. Victoria Oliver is a single mother with an extremely emotionally and behaviorally disturbed child. She has sacrificed much to keep him and herself safe, but she quickly finds that everything she has done has been in vain.

The great thing about Lisa Gardner’s novels is how rapid fire everything moves. We are very quickly thrown into the action, and stay there throughout. D.D.’s portions are told from the third person, while Danielle and Victoria’s are both first person. This is certainly an interesting choice, as D.D. is the “star” of a series of novels, yet we are meant to connect most deeply with Danielle and Victoria since this is their story. The action revolves around them, and D.D. is merely a way to bring their story to the reader. I was pretty excited to see how Gardner would connect Danielle and Victoria, and she did not disappoint although the end was a tad cheesy and “out there.”

It was very interesting reading this book right after finishing Gone Baby Gone. Both are set in Boston, with big chunks set in Dorchester. Lehane treats Boston as a character within his novels… the nature and spirit of the city is interwoven into every word he writes. On the flipside, Boston is merely a back drop in Gardner’s novel. Really, this story could be told in any city. There is nothing about the characters that is distinctively “Bostonian” (no one even drinks a Dunkin’ Donuts for crying out loud). It’s a very striking distinction, and overall tells me much about what the authors goals are. Gardner wants to entertain; Lehane wants to tell a STORY.