I don’t usually begin series in the middle—I’m a firm believer in starting at the beginning. But I was really intrigued by the description for Lisa Gardner’s upcoming Find Her and requested to preview it before I realized it was going to be the eighth book in her Detective D.D. Warren series. It caused me to pause as I started reading—this far into a series there are usually well established arcs carrying over from the previous books and it can leave new readers feeling like they’re missing something. I was relieved to discover this wasn’t the case for Find Her and enjoyed the book enough to go and add the earlier books to my library wish list for later reading.
Detective D.D. Warren is on restricted duty as she returns to work following an injury but despite the physical therapy she still has to complete, she won’t let her restricted status keep her tied down to a desk. She shows up at what is supposed to be a murder scene where the perpetrator is in custody only to discover that the victim may actually have been a sexual predator who’d abducted her perpetrator. Flora Dane, the young woman who killed her attacker, is more than she appears having survived four hundred seventy-two days of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse five years earlier at the hands of a different predator. Evidence suggests the man she killed may have been involved in the disappearances of two or three other women in the last year but he can’t answer D.D.’s questions being dead and she blames Flora Dane. When D.D. goes to speak with Flora Dane again the next day, she finds the young woman’s apartment empty, Flora gone and the number of missing women goes up by one more.
A big part of why Find Her works as a stand-alone book as well as a book in a series is that so much of the novel is actually told from Flora Dane’s perspective and focuses on her. It opens with her and is largely her experiences in her present circumstances as well as flashbacks to the horrors she endured during her first abduction (content that is very difficult to get through and not for everyone). D.D.’s investigation unfolds and interweaves wonderfully with Flora’s progress as she implements tactics both practical and psychological to help her deal with her surroundings. Flora’s sections of the narrative are in first person while D.D.’s are presented in third, signaling to the reader that while the series follows D.D., the story being told is Flora’s.
The content of Flora’s experiences at the hands of her abductors—new and old—is horrific. But the story itself isn’t about what happened/happens to her—it’s about how she managed to survive it all. Though there is a lot she endures physically, it is the psychology of the book that makes it such a fascinating read. The psychological breakdown of identity that victims—and their families—suffer and the difficulties in coping and coming back after they’ve survived the initial ordeal are front and center through the novel. It is a book about how difficult it is to move past trauma, particularly long-term trauma. Where so many crime/thrillers go into the psychology of the killers when they delve into psychology at all, Find Her feels unique in it’s presentation of a woman who struggles with her victimhood in the manner Flora does, becoming strong and resourceful but remaining vulnerable.
Find Her will be available in stores on February 9, 2016.