Book Reviews

Book Review: Alone by Lisa Gardner – Suspenseful Detective Drama

This is one of those books I almost put down. I’m not even sure why it was in my Kindle library. I thought, perhaps, it was a book I was gifted from Goodreads, but it indicated that I actually purchased it. The only thing I can come up with was someone recommended the D.D. Warren series of books to me, and I usually start at the beginning with any series. However, Alone doesn’t feature this female detective prominently. Still, it’s listed as the first novel in that series, so here we are.

Massachusetts State Trooper Bobby Dodge is a sniper. He has other duties in his position, but if there’s a hostage situation, his unit is usually called in. One night he’s just gotten off his regular shift. He’s at the bar where he’s drinking Coke when a call comes in: a man is holding his wife and child hostage. Bobby arrives on the scene in the exclusive Back Bay area of Boston and soon has the subject in his sights. He’s watching the scene play out and reads the man’s body language that he’s about to fire the weapon, so Bobby takes him out.

What follows is fallout of epic proportions. The man Bobby shot was the son of a well-known judge. There had been a history of domestic abuse calls to the home that went nowhere due to the influence of Judge Gagnon. The Judge blames his daughter-in-law, Catherine, for his son’s death. He will do anything to put her in jail and take custody of his grandson, even target Bobby, who was only doing his job.

Catherine Gagnon is a mysterious woman and a survivor. Twenty-five years before, she was abducted and held in an underground prison by a pedophile. Her testimony on the stand sent him to jail, ostensibly for life. Through an accident (or not?) he’s been released and Catherine must protect herself and her son from him as well as prove herself to be a good mother. Her son also has an unknown disease, although years of doctor visits, tests, and various diets have failed to turn up any answers. The Judge accuses her of Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, and it would seem he has a good case for removing his grandson from her care.

There’s a lot of suspense in the novel. Bobby is increasingly isolated from his support network, especially within the department. Even D.D. Warren, a fellow officer whom he dated for a time, thinks he is destroying his life. Catherine started turning to him when she had no one else and Bobby makes some poor decisions. Both of them are being followed by a private investigator for Judge Gagnon, and he tells Bobby all his problems will disappear if he would just testify against Catherine.

What started out as a book that seemed to be making the case that policemen are saints who can do no wrong turns out to be better than what I thought. Bobby does make mistakes throughout the book, and his fellow officers know it. He’s dealing with issues from his own past and hasn’t ever really confronted them before. The story moves fast as Bobby seeks to exonerate himself and uncover the truth. Is Catherine a tragic figure or incredibly manipulative?

The story weaves its way through the revelations about Catherine and Bobby’s backgrounds and there’s a lot that is similar. Perhaps that’s why he’s the first man she sees as something of an equal. Where she had no support from any man in her life unless she was using him somehow, Bobby is there because he’s intrigued but also because he has a strong sense of right and wrong. He knows the Judge using his power and influence to achieve the desired outcome is wrong. Even though the odds are against him, he’s just looking for the truth and some justice.

I enjoyed Alone a lot more than I was expecting from the first few chapters, and I’m glad I didn’t put it down. It’s a good police drama with a mystery I didn’t guess until it was revealed. The pacing was great and the characters were believable.

2 replies »

Leave a Reply