"Look for Me" by Lisa Gardner; Dutton (400 pages, $27)
Lisa Gardner again proves herself as a top thriller writer with "Look for Me," her engrossing ninth novel about Boston Sgt. Det. D.D. Warren. A no-nonsense detective, D.D. also has a deep compassion for the victims, and while she depends on her intuition and insight to the criminal mind, everything comes down to the facts. Not everything is as it seems until it can be proven.
Certainly not everything is as it seems in the crime that dominates the exciting "Look for Me." Four members of a family – a mother, her boyfriend, and her two children – are killed in their home one morning. But 16-year-old Roxanna Baez – the fifth member of the family – apparently is on the run, having disappeared with the family's two blind dogs.
That Roxanna left with the dogs makes D.D. and her team wonder if she left before the violence and has kept away because she is afraid, or could she be the killer. By all accounts, Roxanna was the family's rock, trying to raise her younger sister and brother when their mother was too drunk to care for her children. It was up to Roxanna to protect her younger sister from the predatory other children in foster care. While the mother eventually was able to get her kids back, D.D. wonders what else went on in the house and if Roxanna snapped from the pressure. D.D.'s investigation is helped – and hindered – by Flora Dane, a survivor of a horrendous crime who reinvented herself by helping other victims and, sometimes, acting as a vigilante. D.D. and Flora follow different investigations that often intersect.
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The tense "Look for Me" forcefully delves into family dynamics while also exploring an emotional look at the failures of foster care. Gardner has never disappointed, whether she's writing about D.D. Warren, her involving stand-alone novels or her tense "Profiler" series about FBI agent Pierce Quincy and Officer Rainie Conner.
Gardner employs her usual solid plotting while adding surprising twists in "Look for Me."