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Lizzy Gardner, Private Investigator - a good read
on 24 September 2012
This is the second thriller that features the Californian private investigator Lizzy Gardner. There are several related strands in the book. One centres on the disappearance twenty years ago of a young girl, Carol Fullerton. Her mother, terminally ill with cancer, hires Lizzy to find Carol, or at least find out what happened to her. Shortly afterwards Lizzy is also hired by the sister of another missing young woman, Diane Kramer, who six months previously emptied her saving account and vanished. Diane was obese and her sister Andrea suspects that a weight reduction `guru' called Anthony Melbourne had something to do with her disappearance and wants Lizzy to investigate him. Melbourne is a control freak and has links to several of the characters in the book. In both cases things are not all they seem, with a collection of rather sinister relatives and friends who have their own histories they want to conceal, and that Lizzy gradually uncovers. Drug and alcohol addiction, pedophilia, and murder all feature strongly.
It is not just the clients who have tangled histories. Lizzy is still recovering from a traumatic experience as a teenager, when she was kidnapped by a notorious serial killer and had to witness him torture and kill several victims. She is still vulnerable, and this is making it difficult for her to commit to her enthusiastic boy friend, who is pressing her to move in with him. Her two part-time assistants also have their own troubles, and one has become so twisted by her childhood sexual exploitation that she commences brutal revenge attacks on her abusers. So, a complex thriller with much violence towards the end. But the various themes, both professional and personal, are well integrated and there is nothing jarring in the narrative; no unbelievable coincidences and the like. It is a good example of the genre, fast moving, easy to read and not entirely predictable, with characters as believable as you are likely to find in this type of book.