Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Crash & Burn ~ Lisa Gardner (earc) review [@LisaGardnerBks @DuttonBooks]

Crash & Burn (Tessa Leoni #3)
Dutton Adult
February 3, 2014
400 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from TBD/or Amazon

The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s latest stand-alone thriller, with a cameo by her fan-favorite character, Boston Detective D.D. Warren

My name is Nicky Frank. Except, most likely, it isn’t.

Nicole Frank shouldn’t have been able to survive the car accident, much less crawl up the steep ravine. Not in the dark, not in the rain, not with her injuries. But one thought allows her to defy the odds and flag down help: Vero.

I’m looking for a little girl. I have to save her. Except, most likely, she doesn’t exist.

Sergeant Wyatt Foster is frustrated when even the search dogs can’t find any trace of the mysterious missing child. Until Nicky’s husband, Thomas, arrives with a host of shattering revelations: Nicole Frank suffers from a rare brain injury and the police shouldn’t trust anything she says.

My husband claims he’ll do anything to save me. Except, most likely, he can’t.

Who is Nicky Frank, and what happened the night her car sailed off the road? Was it a random accident or something more sinister given the woman’s lack of family and no close friends? The deeper Wyatt digs, the more concerned he becomes. Because it turns out, in the past few months, Nicky has suffered from more than one close accident. . . . In fact, it would appear someone very much wants her dead.

This is my life. Except, most likely, it’s not. Now watch me crash and burn.
Tessa Leoni first appeared in the fifth book of Lisa Gardner's D.D. Warren series, Love You More. Her second appearance came in Touch & Go, the novel that introduced us to New Hampshire police officer Sergeant Wyatt Foster. Now, both Tessa and Wyatt are back - with a bit of D.D. Warren - in Crash & Burn.

When he receives the call, it all seems pretty straightforward: a single car accident, late at night, in a rainstorm.  Soon enough, tough, nearly all of it is called into question.

Nicky Frank not only survived the accident, she pulled herself to safety and got help. Now, she just needs them to find Vero.

Except, the police search dog can't find any traces of Vero and Nicky's husband claims she has a brain injury that leave her unreliable.

Unsure of which of them - if either - is to be trusted, Sergeant Foster begins investigating further, investigating the crash, the Franks, all of it. The more he investigates and the more he uncovers, the messier things become, the more questions there are.

One of the things I love most about Lisa Gardner's novels is that they are told from multiple perspectives, usually the main law enforcement officer and then either a victim, a perpetrator or someone whose role isn't yet clear. In Touch & Go we get things from Wyatt's perspective and from Nicky's.

Nicky is a fantastic kind of character, a great example of an unreliable narrator. From almost the very beginning it's unclear how much truth she's telling. It works especially well because what she's saying may be true, she may think it's true, she may want it to be true . . . or she could be lying. To herself or to everyone.

It's up to Wyatt to unravel her story, her past and distinguish fact from fiction. He was a new character in Touch & Go and I very much enjoyed seeing him back in Crash & Burn. A possible relationship between him and Tessa was hinted at in the earlier book and now we get to see it come to fruition. He's a good investigator and it's nice seeing how the decisions he makes, what he pursues, what he doesn't and his interactions with Tessa (and Sophie).

Even having Nicky's narration alongside Wyatt's, Crash & Burn is full of twist, turns and surprises. Nicky's narration may even increase them as her character, her truth presents more than its share of surprises. I love having what seems like the two sides of the story, but there still being so many unknowns, so many other sides that need to be told.

In some ways it's more of a Sergeant Wyatt Foster novel than a Tessa Leoni one, but that's okay. We get to see Tessa again, see the progression and growth of her character, especially from Love You More. They are both characters - and a relationship - I hope to see in future novels.

As full of revelations, discoveries, truths and lies and Crash & Burn was, it all came together amazingly well. As soon as I thought I had things figured out, something new happened or was revealed that threw things into question again. Yet, when it is all uncovered, when all of the pieces are finally put together, it's very satisfying, a fantastic mystery.

Though this is the third Tessa Leoni novel and the second with Sergeant Wyatt Foster, it's pretty standalone as well. If you haven't read the earlier books, you won't know everything that happened in them, obviously, but the author does a great job mentioning the key points; you won't be lost. (Though, if you read her D.D. Warren series, there is a spoiler if you haven't read Fear Nothing, yet.)

[While I haven't reviewed them, I have read several of Lisa Gardner's novels - the seven books and one novella in the D.D. Warren series, the Tessa Leoni books, and Survivor's Club - and recommend them all as great mystery, thrillers. They are also very good audio listens.]

digital copy received, for review, from publisher via NetGalley - thank you!

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