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VINE VOICEon 17 September 2012
I do wish publishers would stop giving the impression that books which were originally released over 10 years ago (in this case 2001 for the UK) are masquerading as new books. Fortunately, I hadn't read this one so I enjoyed the story but feel annoyed that I was caught out by a sleight of hand!

The book is based around a series of mass killings at various schools throughout the US which actually took place. Regrettably, they still do. Make no mistake, this is a crime thriller and does not pretend to reflect on the real-life events. It does, however, spend some time, via the main protagonists, trying to rationalise the reasons for such outrages. Since the answer has not yet been found, mainly due to the lack of first hand perpetrators killing themselves before they are taken into custody, the chances are high that more school killings will occur.

In this novel, the disturbing clue which leads to a tense investigation is just why one of the victims, a teacher, was killed with a single shot to the head when the other victims were killed in a spray of bullets.

Officer Lorraine Conner, yet another police person with a haunted past, leads this investigation, little knowing that she, herself, has become the grand finale. Meantime, FBI profiler Pierce Quincy arrives on the scene to lend his support, a man specializing in child psychology with, guess what, a troubled past.

If one cuts out the author's take on why these events happen, this is well up to Lisa Gardner's high standards of storytelling. She intertwines the horrific event in Conner's earlier life resulting in the killing of her mother, with the manipulation of a young schoolboy by the real killer responsible for the mass killings at three of the schools. When all this is set in a very small town in Oregon, where everyone knows the business of everyone else - or thinks they do, Conner's job becomes increasingly plagued by emotions on all sides.

Even so, the author tells a convincing story. The person behind the killings lies hidden in the community and no amount of investigating seems to bring Conner and Quincy any closer to solving the mystery of the dead teacher. Until, that is, there is a breakthrough with an interesting take on how a .22 bullet can be made to fire from a .38. I didn't know this but then, why would I? But it's an ingenious point.

Despite its age, this book is still well up to today's standards of thriller writing, in fact, it's a far better book than many of the current crop of police action stories. I just wish Headline Publishing (and Amazon) would be more open with the provenance of their books.
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on 3 September 1999
I, too, loved this book, and have ordered The Perfect Husband (gee, too bad we can't really do that! ha!). The only thing predictable in this book was the romance between Melanie and the detective (what's his name?). Too "pattern". However, the rest of the book was fabulous - many mysteries, many twists, and super surprises. I guessed one of the surprises part way through, but had no idea if I was right, so I was very intrigued. The other surprises were so good! I, also, lost sleep while reading this book! Get back to work, Lisa. I want more books from you.
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on 23 January 2013
A lot of macho nonsense. But don't let this poor first novel put you off this writer. I've read several of her other books and she's an excellent writer. Read the others - highly recommended - but don't waste your time on this one.
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on 11 March 2002
This book is full of every mothers'nightmares - from shootings in school - to your child holding the murder weapons. Not a fast paced read but the mentality of a small town - the closeness - and how violence can rip that to pieces is superbly drawn. The two main characters Raine and Quincy; legions apart yet you can feel the tension when they are together. You feel empathy for both of them and Raines's frustrations become yours. A nightmare - but a well written one and well worth the read.
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on 29 December 2013
what a load of codswallop . I thought I'd bought a crime thriller not a rehash of a mills and Boone novel.... weak little woman seeks protection from strong testosterone driven masculine but emotionally damaged ex mercenary. oh please ! Give me strength. Could
this book have been any more unrealistic. Guess how it ends. You won't be surprised.
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Having read "Alone" quite recently, I backed up a bit and picked up some other novels by the prolific Ms. Gardner, who also writes under the name "Alicia Scott"

Although similar to "Alone" in that the main female character has a hidden and troubled past, this one is not as polished as her more recent novel, with quite a few plot holes, impossible situations, and gaps that are hastily brushed over with a sentence or two. For example, we learn that one character conveniently "had the knack for bypassing various security systems" which, coming where it did in the novel, appears to be a hastily added after-thought to explain a hole.

Some clumsy dialogue, unnecessary repetition of plot points, laughable love scenes and under-developed characters detract from what could have been an above-average thriller, full of twists and surprises. An okay read, but not one you'd want to remember as your first Gardner novel.
Rated: 3.5 stars
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on 29 August 2012
First of all let me say that the tagline 'What if the man you love wanted to kill you? is highly misleading. At the time the novel takes place Tess no longer loves her (ex) husband - she was terrified of him throughout their marriage, even before he was exposed as a serial killer. In fact all the really interesting stuff - Tess's suspicions, her life with a controlling serial killer, her actions which brought him to justice, his (first) attempt to kill her all take place before this novel began and are seen only in flashback. Instead the novel focuses on the ridiculous relationship between Tess and a mercenary she hires to teach her to fight/protect her against her evil husband who has conveniently escaped from prison. Our heroine's ridiculous decision to refuse police protection (though for some reason she is quite happy to leave her daughter in the hands of the police reasoning that she will be safer that way???) is justified to some extent by the stupidity of the police involved in the case but sadly I didn't have have much faith in her vigilante plan either.

JT is probably the least convincing tough mercenary ever in fiction - he's more tortured romantic hero than Dirty Harry and the concept that he could teach the rather wet Tess enough self defence to take on a psycho who has killed two prison guards with his bare hands is ludicrous to say the least. In fact this grisly sub plot only exists for the two to fall in love and for LG to subject the reader to pages of purple prose ('she arched against him'/'Hold me, she whispered') which are not only painful to read but highly inappropriate in the context - Tess's daughter has been kidnapped - you probably saw that one coming! - and she and JT are preparing to take on a pyscho. The novel feels like a collaboration between Patricia Cornwall and Barbara Cartland and it's hard to imagine who it's aimed at - if I wanted to read a slushy romance I wouldn't want to be stepping over corpses every other page and I certainly didn't buy a novel marketed as a thriller to wade through pages of romantic drivel!

For all the rubbish about JT being the toughest guy on earth etc etc. he is actually pretty useless when it comes to sorting out pyscho Jim and I kept thinking that Tess might have been better off buying a bigger gun and hoping for the best :) Whatever the cover might suggest this book is no way empowering to women - Tess is always going bravely into action, holding the gun in her trembling little hand, forgetting to pull the trigger and having to be saved by JT who frankly isn't a lot better. What possessed him to go into action against Jim (who is conveniently hanging out at the scene of his last murder) accompanied only by Tess (holding a gun in her trembling little hand as tears glistened in her large brown eyes etc. etc.) who is bound to be useless and end up as a liability? Why not go in himself - or with another tough cop/mercenary or even - a whole SWAT team?

I have no idea why this novel was published in the first place never mind re-released over 10 years later - but based on this I would not buy another Lisa Gardiner book. I don't like misleading blurbs or being suckered into buying books on false pretences ...
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VINE VOICEon 22 June 2009
This is the first in Lisa Gardner's Rainie & Quincy series although Pierce Quincy does make a small appearance in her previous book 'The Perfect Husband'. Here we are introduced to Lorraine 'Rainie' Conner who is a police officer in the small rural town of Bakersville which is where the latest in a string of school shootings has just taken place leaving 3 people dead. Rainie and rookie cop Cunningham rush to the scene and what she discovers changes her life completely.
This is one of the best books ive read recently and I finisbed it in 3 days while on holiday. Gardner's writing style is effortless, her characters are well portrayed and witty and theres still enough shocks and grousome bits thrown in to keep it appealing to a wide audience. I would definately recomend this book as a great place to start with both Lisa Gardner and this series.
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on 21 June 2002
I happened upon this novel in a local store (cheaply!) and thought it sounded 'quite' interesting. How wrong can I be!! From the very first page I was completely engrossed.
From a storyline that sends shivers up your spine, to a whole host of characters each with their own secrets and flaws, there is nothing more you can want in a thriller.
My advice, BUY THIS BOOK NOW. I have since bought another two of her novels which shows that ... first impressions can indeed be deceptive ... (read the book and you'll know what I mean!!!)
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on 15 October 2007
This book was great, i really enjoyed reading The Third Victim.
I visited Lisa Gardner's website and she had the order in which to read the novels that involved the characters Quincy and Rainie.
It's as follows:-
- The Perfect Husband
- The Third Victim
- The Next Accident
- The Killing Hour
- Gone

I am now reading The Next Accident, which is great so far...
Anyway back to this review.
The story is every mother's worst nightmare, i really felt for the poor mum involved.
After reading a few pages i just didn't want to put it down.
The suspence is fantastic. I played the guessing game right to the very end. There were lots of twists and turns.
I am growing to really like the Quincy and Rainie duo. Great characters.
I was surprised by the outcome of the story and wouldn't have guessed at all.
Love the way the author must have really researched the plot, gathered so much information. The story was very believable.
I would recommend to others definitely.
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