My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lisa Gardner reliably delivers smoothly written, fast-paced thrillers. After having given up on a book that put me to sleep four nights in a row, I was happy to dive into LIVE TO TELL and fly through the chapters. Our heroine, Boston PD detective D.D. Warren, is investigating two “family annihilations”–those terrible crimes in which one member of a family kills everyone else. Meanwhile, the author takes us into the point-of-view of Victoria, a young mother struggling to care for her severely mentally ill and violent 8-year-old. The scenes with Victoria and her son are chilling because they are so realistic, and not at all sensationalized. (In the Acknowledgements at the end, we learn that Gardner was inspired by the troubles of a friend who had a child like this.) The two story lines intersect at a locked down psych ward for kids, which is also very realistically portrayed. So why four stars and not five? Because I was disappointed in the ending. After doing such a great job of sensitively portraying the suffering of the mentally ill and those who struggle to care for them, I thought the author created a killer who was a crazy lunatic straight out of central casting. Nevertheless, it was still an entertaining and even thought-provoking read.