|Date Published||23 July 2021|
When You See Me
Detective DD Warren needs a full team when a body is found in the hills outside Niche, because this discovery points to the serial kidnapper, Jacob Ness.
DD joins forces with Flora Dane, the sole survivor of Ness’s vile kidnapping hobby and his prisoner for over a year, and Keith, a gifted computer analyst and true crime enthusiast. Despite her struggle with ongoing PTSD, Flora has much to offer, as does Keith.
The town of Niche appears quaint and wholesome, a slice of homely apple pie. But Lilah’s body is just one of many. As more are uncovered, Niche loses its faultless sheen, revealing a sinister snakes’ nest, festering in decades-old dark deeds, murder, and secrets. Beneath the surface of the vicious town is a terrified and abused young mute girl. To DD's horror, she discovers that the nameless girl is not part of the family she lives with and is little more than a slave, possibly not the only one.
Flora and Keith strike gold when they realise Ness would have had to use a vehicle to dispose of his victims on the mountainside. But the ATV they hire takes them closer to danger and further from sanity. And in a town where no-one is trustworthy, the good guys end up playing Russian Roulette with their own lives.
I had no idea when I started reading the book that I was off on another jolly with characters I had already met. The protagonist is unnoticeable as the main character as there are too many other points of view, (including Kimberly’s perspective that brings nothing to the table). This eleventh outing for DD Warren is fluffed up with non-events, repetition and unnecessarily lengthy padding, which is a shame as the heart of this tale pumps at a good pace.
There are a few too many conveniences and unrealistic ideas propping the story up, including the discovery of bones with only a possible connection to a dead serial killer that seem to warrant a task force of FBI agents, together with out-of-state detectives, local law enforcement and, of course, a victim and a computer-buff tagalong team.
Flora’s presence in the early stages of this police procedural is as convincing as a large foot shoe-horned into a small shoe and although there is some resolution to the Jacob Ness story, I sense enough loose ends to justify dragging Flora into future books.
Whilst the story starts at a snail’s pace with much trekking through woods and digging up of grave sites, all that does give Lisa Gardner the opportunity to bring the backdrop to life, and she makes a good job of it. Unfortunately, neon lights forewarn the twists and from the start, where I felt I was being spoon-fed information, I suspected the climax would be long-winded and hackneyed and I wasn’t proved wrong, but by using sheep shears to cut the fluff, and by making DD a stand-out first-person POV protagonist, the books could easily shine.
Reviewed 23 October 2021 by Kati Barr-Taylor
Kati Barr-Taylor lives in her ‘cosy pigsty’ in the Dordogne. She satisfies her literary cravings by translating, writing, editing and reading.