Century | 2018 (8 February) | 400p | Review copy | Buy the book
Boston Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren should have been out with her family buying their son a shoe-chewing puppy but instead she is called to a house in the suburbs and is faced with a tragedy in all its bloody horror. Juanita Baez, her partner Charlie Boyd and her 13-year-old daughter Lola and her little boy Manny are all dead, shot, murdered. But the other daughter, 16-year-old Roxanna, is missing along with their two old and blind dogs. The dogs are soon discovered, tied up and waiting for rescue. D.D. has more questions than answers – why is Roxy on the run? Is she guilty? And, if so, why would she shoot her family when everybody knows what a sensible young woman she is, and how devoted she is to her family? What secrets is she hiding?
D.D. Warren, whether she likes it or not, is not going to be investigating the murders alone. Survivor turned vigilante Flora Dane already has her eye on the case, alerted to it by a fellow survivor in her online support group. Flora knows better than anyone the right questions to ask and she knows how to get the answers. D.D. might not like it but once again she will need Flora’s unusual help.
Look For Me is the ninth novel in Lisa Gardner’s D.D. Warren detective series but effectively it continues the previous novel, Find Her, which introduced us, and D.D., to the remarkable Flora. You don’t need to have read any books before to enjoy Look For Me but, after reading it, you may feel compelled to seek out Find Her to discover just what happened to Flora Dane.
I’m still discovering the D.D. Warren books (reading them in the wrong order as I often do with long running series) but I do think that Flora brings something extra special to an excellent series and I’m so pleased to see her return. She adds an extra dimension, literally because the novel moves between D.D.’s perspective, presented in third person, and Flora’s first person account of the case and her own understanding of it. There’s another voice given a hearing as well – there are extracts from Roxy’s own account of her childhood, written as a school writing exercise. The murders of the Baez family are approached from so many different angles and this adds enormously to our emotional involvement. This is not an easy book to put down.
The crime at the heart of Look For Me deals such an emotional blow and it casts a dark shadow over everything that follows. It pulls in some important themes, notably the state of the foster system in the US, and this is particularly disturbing. I was kept on my toes throughout as I tried to work out who was responsible. Look For Me kept me guessing. My one slight issue is that I’m not sure that the result lived up to the promise of the novel’s superb delivery but that really is nitpicking and it comes down to personal taste.
Look For Me is an emotionally involving and engrossing mystery, populated by some fascinating characters, notably Roxy and especially Flora. There are moments in it that stab the heart. It is at times so painful and desperate. And then there are the dogs. How my heart went out to the two blind dogs. Lisa Gardner writes beautifully. She knows how to involve her readers in every step of the story. I do hope that we haven’t seen the last of Flora Dane but I’ll certainly be keeping my eye on D.D. Warren whatever happens.