“Gardner shows great talent in emotional engagement and tense plotting in this murder mystery placed in Boston, 5th in a series of 7 so far featuring tough homicide detective D.D. Warren.
Gardner’s special talent lies in domestic situations that go bad. This story starts out with police being called to a shooting of a husband by his wife who is terribly beaten, a seeming open and shut case of defense from domestic violence. The victim/suspect is Tessa Leoni, a state trooper. Her 8 year old child is missing, and she isn’t talking. Eventually she is arrested for murder.
The wide ranging investigations lead to exciting many twists and turns in the plot. From early on the author uses the device of slipping into Tessa’s mind, so the reader knows her primary concern is finding her daughter. The ultimate question played out is what would a mother do to save her child? This makes for compelling reading and great challenges for Sergeant Warren. My only objection is Gardner’s method of accessing Leoni’s mind for the reader in small pieces felt a bit manipulative. Following along with police procedural steps, we pass from clue to clue as expected, but the magic of seeing into a suspect’s mind with constraints on seeing her levels of guilt seems artificial. Yet movies do that all the time, so it was easy to sit back and enjoy the ride.