Monday, February 25, 2019

NEVER TELL :: Lisa Gardner

This review previously appeared in Shelf Awareness and is republished here with permission.

Thankfully, Lisa Gardner chucked her career in food service after catching her hair on fire too many times, freeing her to become the author of 20-plus thrillers. Gardner's writing is ever-evolving as she adds new forms and actors to the mix. In the 10th installment of her Detective D.D. Warren series, Never Tell, Gardner gives equal time to a newly recurring character, survivor advocate and confidential informant Flora Dane, and to the suspect in the murder at hand, Evie Carter.

Evie is found standing over her husband with the smoking gun in hand. D.D. recognizes Evie as the grown version of the girl she investigated for shooting her father to death years earlier. When the new case hits the media, Flora shows up with shocking news--she recognizes the victim, Conrad Carter, from when she was kidnapped and held captive several years earlier (Find Her).

From the alternating and varied perspectives of these three fascinating and complex women, Gardner delves into marriage and family dynamics, power, perception and the lengths people will go to hide and protect their secrets. Her character work is beautifully done, and she deftly handles multiple narrators, timelines and plot arcs. Gardner strikes what feels like a perfect tone with 10 books of background to contend with, keeping the present fresh while providing necessary history. Never Tell is an excellent addition to the D.D. Warren series and proof it's never too late to draw in new fans. 

STREET SENSE: I was somewhat hesitant to take on this assignment, as I think I read the first D.D. Warren book and then for some reason did not continue with the series. Now I feel as if I want to go back and read the others. It's not necessary in order to understand anything from this book, Gardner played the history aspect really well, but I *want* to, despite not having a big desire to take on a new series. This was a super installment that didn't make me feel left out, just wanting more.

COVER NERD SAYS: I'm a bit tired of the "woman from behind" cover, whether it's a close-up or full-body shot. I don't really see a fit between this cover image and the content, other than there are three main women characters. I do find something compelling about the color palette, which is eye-catching. And certainly the focus is on the author here, since Gardner has been around long enough that folks will pick up a book because her name is on it. I also think the bold, hard-edged font balances out the "softness" of the cover image, which might give the impression, taken alone, that there is something soft about this book. I wish it was "more," but I suppose it doesn't really need to be. 

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About Malcolm Avenue Review

I was lucky enough to be born and raised in a nifty, oak-shaded ranch house on Malcolm Avenue, a wide-laned residential street with little through traffic, located amid the foothills of Northern California. It was on that street and in that house I learned most of my adolescent life lessons, and many grown-up ones to boot. Malcolm Avenue was "home" for more than thirty years.

It was on Malcolm Avenue, through and with my family and the other families that made up our neighborhood of characters, that I first learned about and gained an appreciation for the things I continue to love the most to this day: music, animals, photography, sports, television/movies and, of course, books.

I owe a debt of gratitude to that life on Malcolm Avenue. It gave me a sense of community and friendship, support and adventure. For better and worse, life on that street likely had the biggest impact on the person I've become. So this blog, and the things I write here, are all, at their base level, a little bit of a love letter to Malcolm Avenue.


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