Crime Fiction


Live to Tell - Lisa Gardner

Blood spilt in Boston
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At the conclusion of the last meeting of our Crime Fiction Book Group we decided we’d look at female detectives to see how they stack up against their male counterparts.

That sparked a few thoughts in my brain. My first instinct was to look at that greatest of all female detectives, Miss Marple, but then I thought maybe not… maybe someone less well known.

So I’m going to look at Boston’s finest, Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren. Created by the author Lisa Gardner.

Lisa Gardner has a long series of thrillers and detective stories to her name. She has this neat trick of changing detective after half a dozen books, not abandoning the previous one but introducing someone new and gradually letting the new one take centre stage without entirely dropping the previous one. This works amazingly well. First there was the FBI profiler Pierce Quincy; then his daughter Kimberley, also an FBI agent; then State Trooper Bobby Dodge, who was followed by D.D. Warren, who now occasionally takes a backseat to the next in line, Tessa Leoni (onetime state trooper, now security consultant). And then Lisa Gardner will suddenly throw you a curveball and go back to Quincy. Always keeping you on your toes.

My favourite is D.D. She’s pretty as a picture with a figure to die for, can eat like a trooper and is as tough as nails. Her looks are hardly mentioned and never get in the way. Her toughness and determination, on the other hand, are certainly felt everywhere she goes. She leads a team of all male detectives and rules them with a rod of iron. And in doing that she more than holds her own in a male dominated environment like Boston PD. Through the books we gradually get glimpses of her private life but never so much that it takes over the story, just enough to want to know what happens next to her.

One of my favourite books is Live to Tell. This is a story of a young woman who is the sole survivor of a gruesome family killing and who sees it as her duty to ‘bear witness’ or ‘live to tell’. She now works in an acute children’s psychiatric unit. When another horrific family killing takes place all threads seems to lead to the psych ward and to Danielle. D.D’s probing questions and uncompromising stance bring the past flooding back to Danielle, and what happens next is a truly chilling tale.

Unlike other female authors whose female detectives (and here I don’t mean Miss Marple) have become two dimensional figures on the silver screen, Lisa Gardner’s books have to my knowledge never been filmed. And all the better for it. I have a vivid image in my mind of D.D. and wouldn’t like to see it spoilt by a totally unsuitable actor – unlike some others I could mention!