WHO DO YOU LOVE?
One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?
AND HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO . . .
As the homicide investigation ratchets into a frantic statewide search for a missing child, D. D. Warren must partner with former lover Bobby Dodge to break through the blue wall of police brotherhood, seeking to understand the inner workings of a trooper’s mind while also unearthing family secrets. Would a trained police officer truly shoot her own husband? And would a mother harm her own child?
. . . TO SAVE HER?
For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable. A mother knows who she loves. And all others will be made to pay.
_ Love you more . . . _
A Letter from Author Lisa Gardner
True confession time: for a woman who makes her living writing extremely diabolical suspense novels, I have no stomach for gore. Scary movies? Can’t watch them. Most of the crime shows on prime time? Egads, no way! Haunted houses? My husband has had to carry me out. It’s embarrassing but true.
So when I first received the invitation to conduct research at the famed Body Farm at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, I didn’t know what to do with myself. As a forensics aficionado and thriller author, I just had to visit. A chance to learn first-hand how to search for buried remains? Or how to establish time of death for skeletal remains? Or the amount of forensic evidence that can still be retrieved from cremated bones? Sign me up!
On the other hand, this would involve walking the fabled Death’s Acre, which generally features several hundred decomposing bodies. I had to consider not just what I was going to see, but what I was going to smell, touch, feel. The squeamish mom in me worried I wouldn’t be able to take it. And no one wants to be the one who barfs in front of trained professionals.
What’s a girl gonna do? Of course I went.
The Anthropological Research Facility, aka the Body Farm, was founded in the early ‘80s by Dr. William Bass. Up until then, the discovery of decomposed remains often led to a time of death plus or minus several years. Obviously, this complicated the homicide investigation. Dr. Bass’s solution: bury a body, see how long it took to skelatonize, and scientifically establish a rate of decomp.
Of course, many variables immediately came into play: buried or unburied, clothed or clothed, hot humid conditions, cold frosty conditions, animal activity, insect activity, etc., etc. In the end, Dr. Bass couldn’t bury one body, he needed hundreds. Some donations were unclaimed remains from the ME’s office. Hundreds of others are directed donations from people who wanted to contribute to the advancement of science after their death.
This kind of generosity makes Death’s Acre less a macabre wooded plot and more like hallowed ground. Instead of listening to anthropologists merely analyze body parts, I heard stories of people and families, of victims and criminal prosecutions, of crafty murderers and even craftier forensics experts. I learned of stories told in bone.
Interestingly enough, the more the head anthropologist Dr. Lee Jantz humanized the remains we studied, the more bearable I found the sights and smells to be. When I cradled the feather-light cranial plate of a newborn infant in my hand, I could both marvel as its rose petal size and feel the weight of one parent’s heart-breaking contribution. I was both mesmerized by the skeleton collection, which took up endless rows of metal shelves, and amazed by how a scientist such as Dr. Jantz could pick up a single piece of cremated bone and tell you the person’s gender, approximate age, chronic health conditions and probable occupation.
Bones, I learned, aren’t just body parts, but an organic record of who we are, what we did, where we lived, and often, how we died. And in the right hands, bones allow the dead to speak. Think a murderer can cover his tracks with a burn barrel and lighter fluid? Think again. Think you can thwart time of death by freezing remains? Nope. Think you can get away with murder? Thanks to forensic anthropologists such as Dr. Jantz, not likely.
I came to the Body Farm expecting to be immersed in death, and instead, found a new appreciation for life. And while my family still refuses to let me tell stories about my research over dinner, I had a great time working with the anthropologists on my March 2011 release Love You More. Just remember, when you come to the key scene in the snowy woods—you’ll know which one I’m talking about—I worked for that scene.
I walked Death’s Acre, and I never threw up.
From Publishers Weekly
Near the start of Thriller Award–winner Gardner's gripping fifth novel featuring Boston PD Sgt. Det. D.D. Warren (after Live to Tell), D.D.'s former partner and one-time lover, Det. Bobby Dodge, of the Massachusetts State Police, asks her to look into what appears to be a clear-cut homicide case. The evidence suggests that Tessa Leoni, a state trooper colleague of Bobby's, shot and killed her abusive husband, Brian Darby, who may have kidnapped her six-year-old daughter, Sophie. But Tessa won't talk about her bruises, her husband, or what might have happened to her child. D.D. examines every detail about the family, while Tessa uses her skills to manipulate the investigation. From Tessa's point of view, we learn about her and Brian's courtship, his affection for Sophie, and how the marriage began to disintegrate. Gardner sprinkles plenty of clues and inventive twists to keep readers off-kilter as the suspense builds to a realistic, jaw-dropping finale. Author tour. (Mar.)
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