I have to admit to being slightly confused by Lisa Gardner’s series’. I actually think perhaps there were more series and some merged when I wasn’t looking? I’m not sure. But although this is the 11th in the DD Warren series, I note it’s also labelled 20th in the Gardner Universe. Which entirely makes sense given the crossovers. (And makes me feel less like I’m losing my mind.)
When You See Me
by Lisa Gardner
Series: DD Warren #11, Gardner Universe #20
Published by Century
Genres: Crime Fiction, Thriller / Suspense
In a small town in the Deep South, Flora Dane is part of a task force committed to hunting down every last trace of notorious serial kidnapper Jacob Ness. As his last victim, imprisoned by Ness in a small box for over a year, she knew him better than most.
Even after his death, his evil still lingers.
But this is the kind of town that doesn’t take kindly to strangers asking questions.
The kind of town where dark secrets lurk just beneath the surface.
The kind of town she might not leave alive.
I believe this is the third book in the series to feature Flora Dane. I first met her in Find Her (her second appearance) in which she was taking justice into her own hands as a wannabe vigilante. She’d been held captive herself for over a year so had insight into both the victim and perpetrator mindsets. That book, and last year’s Never Tell, were actually as much about Flora as they were about DD Warren and I’m wondering if she’ll continue to be part of Warren’s future.
In Never Tell Flora and Warren (along with Kimberley Quincy) learn that Flora’s captor (the very dead Jacob Ness) could potentially have been part of a larger consortium of baddies with a sadistic streak and penchant for young girls and women.
That book also introduced Keith, a computer guru with a true crime fetish. There’s an obvious attraction between Keith and Flora but she’s still unsure as this book opens.
My current theory is that he’s either the first good thing to happen in my life in a very long time. Or he’s a serial killer. p 20
I still don’t know what to do with a man like Keith. Who’s obviously interested in me, but also patient and understanding. Sometimes, he even says exactly the right thing, except instead of making me feel better, it makes me suspicious. He’s too knowledgeable, too understanding.
They say Ted Bundy was very persuasive as well. p 21
The civilians are invited onto the taskforce, along with Warren by Quincy as – following the discovery of a young woman’s bones – there’s a possibility there are links to Jacob Ness (and his messed-up world).
As DD and Kimberley are both away from home and their families, Keith is really the only male character featured to any extent, so it’s very much the women’s show.
In addition to our very strong three female leads, DD, Kimberley and Flora, we meet a young girl. She’s only five years old when the book opens but we come across her again about a decade later and part of the story unfolds from her point of view. She’s unable to speak but incredibly insightful and intuitive.
Gardner keeps the action coming in this latest book. Her writing’s smart and tight, her characters all likeable, the plot’s well-paced and the case(s) at hand complex.
Of course, things are never as they seem and though there are links to past cases here, there are also new heinous crimes to uncover.
I often dislike over-arching story arcs that span several books but realise that’s only when they don’t (ever) form integral parts of a novel’s plot. (I was relieved, for example, when Candice Fox ensured that her Crimson Lake series lead, Ted Conkaffey’s backstory became the plot, rather than something distracting in the background. She (along with co-author) James Patterson, did the same in their Harriet Blue series.)
Gardner includes a few twists and though we know who the baddies are going into the final scenes there’s still a sense of frustration and surprise at their guile and complete lack of contrition. And I should mention the senseless loss of life and its repercussions had me shedding a few tears at the end.
When You See Me by Lisa Gardner will be published by Random House UK on 20 February 2020.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.