FIND HER by Lisa Gardner
CBTB Rating: 4.5/5
The verdict: must-read.
Somehow, in all my crime fiction explorations, I never read a Lisa Gardner novel until now. When I received an advanced copy of FIND HER from Dutton Books, I jumped at the chance to finally immerse myself in the world of Boston detective D. D. Warren, moving this thriller to the top of my reading list. Let me just say, I am so glad that I did. Gardner writes with energy, intrigue, and tension, and I now totally understand how she has amassed such a following of dedicated readers—a group which I now happily consider myself a part of.
FIND HER is a totally unique thriller. The story follows Flora Dane, a young woman who, as a college student, was abducted and held captive for 472 days. Now back in Boston, Flora is struggling to rebuild her life and regain a sense of normalcy. But when Flora disappears from her uber-secure apartment, Detective D. D. Warren finds herself in a race against time to find Flora, before she is gone forever. Detective Warren quickly discovers that all is not as it seems: Flora can’t necessarily be trusted, and her abduction might be connected to other abductions throughout the city.
This story is both a gripping mystery and a fascinating character study. What happened during Flora’s initial captivity forever changed her, but the details of her captivity are murky. The reader uncovers the secrets of her captivity at a tantalizingly slow pace; Gardner keeps you on the edge of your seat, following the trail of bread crumbs she lays down to discover the truth about Flora’s time as an abductee. Gardner masterfully connects Flora’s past with her present, and weaves a complex mystery that the reader will grapple with alongside fictional detective D. D. Warren.
What really makes this story fascinating, however, is the unreliability of Flora as a main character. Is she a victim, or is she perhaps more than that? A pattern of behavior emerges, in which Flora puts herself into dangerous situations to exact justice against men who would do her harm. The reader quickly discovers we have a main character who has both a very real experience of being a victim, and has subsequently possibly acted as a vigilante. What are her motivations? Is she really seeking out opportunities to kill would-be attackers and abusers, or has she simply had the terrible misfortune of being abducted multiple times? Can she be trusted? There are so many questions to be answered, and Gardner slowly paints a picture of a complex main character, whose past traumas manifest themselves in very real, very tragic ways.
I loved the idea of a main character who continues to grapple with a trauma from her past. I think it’s incredibly true that past experiences, both positive and negative, continue to shape us long after the event has passed. Gardner explores this concept gracefully and honestly. Flora is both a damaged and admirable young woman; someone who has seen the worst in society, and works tirelessly to rebuild her sense of self in response to that evil. While her motives and actions might be questionable (that’s up to you to discover!), I loved the idea of exploring the way a person copes and rebuilds after the unthinkable has happened.
FIND HER by Lisa Gardner will keep you guessing. It will keep you up at night, working to solve the story’s central mystery, and uncover the truth about Flora Dane. Victim or vigilante? It’s up to you to decide. Mark your calendars—FIND HER releases February 9th, 2016, from Dutton Books. Sincere thanks to Dutton to introducing me to a talented writer, and a totally addictive novel.