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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 July 2010
"Live to Tell: A Detective D.D. Warren Novel," is another in the D.D. Warren series of thrillers, that includes The Neighbor,Hide, and Alone, by New York Times bestselling American mystery/thriller writer Lisa Gardner. In it, Boston police detective D. D. Warren is assigned the case of a family that has been murdered, apparently by the father, who, it seems, nearly failed to take his own life after killing his wife and young children. And, shockingly enough, there is another local family annihilation (as they are apparently known), also apparently by the father, barely two days later. In neither case is it clear why, without obvious reason, the father would slaughter his family. So D.D. wonders if another member of each family might have been the perpetrator, and soon discovers that there was a psychotic child in each family. In succeeding chapters narrated by secondary characters, Victoria, a mother almost defeated by her psychotic son; and Danielle, a nurse who works with psychotic children, and is also a survivor of family annihilation, the author introduces us to children like Evan, Victoria's eight-year-old, who are capable of frightening violence, and have been known even to plot the killing of their parents.

Several ensuing chapters are set in the pediatric facility where Danielle works, apparently based on a similar real-life facility, the Child Assessment Unit in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I would guess that at least a quarter, possibly a third of the book is set in this unit, or taken up with pleas for these children, and do consider it a worthwhile message. But it was much more information than I wanted to know on the subject, and I doubt that it belongs in a thriller. I was, in fact, reminded of the famous dictum of Sam Goldwyn, American movie-maker: when I want to send a message, I call Western Union. In the solution of the mystery she has set herself, Gardner also veers off into the supernatural: somehow the solution is found on the `interplanes' between the living and the dead. Folks, come to a mystery, I am a meat and potatoes kind of girl, and, while I quite enjoyed the opening of the book, was looking forward to a taut thriller, I really don't want special pleading for any group, or the supernatural, to get between me and my mystery.

I've been known to tell friends, not really jokingly, that if a mystery doesn't throw up a body in the first few pages, I'm not likely to finish it, and "Live to Tell" was satisfactory in that regard. Now, I've previously read, enjoyed, and reviewed the author's Gone, set in the Pacific Northwest; I've not read any of her other works, and so don't know if they follow the model of the clean and taut "Gone," or the stretched out with special pleading and the supernatural "Live to Tell." Is the entire D.D. Warren series like this?
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 July 2010
Danielle Burton is the lone survivor of her family massacre over 25 years ago. She currently works in a children's psychiatric ward trying to help if not save children. It is fast approaching the 25th anniversary of the event and she feels powerless to stop all the old emotions from returning. In a nearby working class neighbourhood, a family is found dead. There is one survivor the father, who is clinging on for life in the Intensive Care Unit. Detective DD Warren is called to the scene and soon realises that this is not a simple open and shut murder case.Victoria Oliver is trying to just get through each day of here life. She tries her best to keep her son safe from himself and the outside world but the day to day struggle becomes harder when she realised the biggest threat is from her own son.The lives of Danielle, Victoria and DD will soon collide, only none of them realises just how great the consequences are going to be.

I have been a fan of Lisa Gardner's since I picked up one of her earlier books. I almost always pre-order her books so that I don't miss a publication date. Her books in the past have proved to be absolutely edge of your seat suspense. This book, well, in a word I have mixed feelings.I read the first review on Amazon from a lady in the US who read one of LG's earlier books entitled `Alone' and then read this current book next. The lady had stated in her review she wondered if they were the same author and I know where she is coming from.

LG has always written really fast paced thrillers and the characters are always really strong and passionate people that are thrown into the deep end of a story. In one respect this book is no different. However, there is one major element to this story which threw me which was the `supernatural'. Now I must point out that I do NOT read supernatural type books and do not subscribe to the `supernatural belief system'. Therefore, this element of the story threw me a bit.

Although the mention of supernatural is recurring throughout, this element of the story is strictly surrounding only one character. I think that you can choose to take this element which ever way you please. It is also clear that two of the main characters, namely DD and Danielle are `non-believers'' which I think adds to the realism of the story. The ending can be read in two different ways as well. I think the author used the supernatural element in addition to the other characters as opposed to the only answer. I thought that the supernatural element to one side, LG has again produced a fantastic story with great characters and a really strong plot. Although some fans may not think this is one of her best I actually really enjoyed it.

A lot of this book is based around the children that are housed in the psychiatric unit in a hospital and the kind of behaviour that they display due to varying medical conditions. Danielle is a nurse on that ward and a good chunk of the story centres in the unit and its children and staff. Lisa Gardner writes these children's problems with great care and it makes you realise that taking a pill isn't always the answer for some sick kids. I also read at the end of the book that LG was compelled to write this into one of her stories due to her own personal experience with a friend's child.

It was great to see DD Warren back in the hot seat, although for some reason in this latest book she has become a sex-starved workaholic with a very bitter outlook on life. Don't get me wrong, she was a great character to begin with and I always like realism in a character. I just didn't remember her being quite so harsh. All of the slight negatives regarding supernatural to one side, I still thoroughly recommend Lisa Gardner and cannot wait for her next one (albeit hopefully with less woo-woo in it).
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on 25 March 2011
I have read all Lisa Gardners books and couldn't wait for Live to Tell to come out and I was not disappointed. In fact, I think it is one of her best todate. I like the D.D. Warren character, she is tough and brash, so her character gives lots of added interest to the stories. The gist of the tale here is the murder of a family, with the evidence initially pointing to the father having murdered his wife and children and then attempting to commit suicide, however, all is not as it first appears. Then, we have Danielle, a nurse at a children's Psych Unit, a mother of a special needs child, who is prone to violence and soon D.D. sees there is a much bigger picture here, when a second family are found murdered in a similar manner to the first. A great story, tense, page turning, there were times I had to prise the book out of my hands, I could have stayed up all night.
Highly recommended, get a copy and get reading.
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on 30 January 2011
Live to Tell is the next in the series of D.D. Warren novels by Lisa Gardner. While the previous book, The Neighbor was very iffy as far as both character and plot went, this one is a home run knocked clear out of the park. An uncomfortable home run, but a home run nonetheless. This book is stellar, riveting, and will keep you reading long into the night. Until you put it down and try to sleep with that slightly disturbed feeling you get when you experience some real-world horror.

Danielle is the survivor of a mass murder where her entire family was killed by her father. She has no idea why, but he shot himself in her bedroom doorway rather than kill her as well. Racked with survivor's guilt, she works as a nurse in a care facility for children who are mentally ill in one way or another. Victoria is the mother of a troubled child who is prone to fits of violent rage. A boy who has sworn to kill her at some point. Yet she won't abandon him, even if her husband has taken their daughter because Victoria refuses to institutionalize the boy. D.D. Warren is a Boston homicide detective who is tasked with solving one, and then two, family annihilations, where it looks like the father massacred the family before killing himself. How do these three stories tie together? Whatever the answer, it could result in an even more brutal murder.

Gardner seems to excel at telling her novels from multiple viewpoints: Warren (her main character) and two people who are intimately involved in some way, or will be at the very least. Again, Gardner's characterization skills are fairly high, though again Warren suffers in comparison to the other two main characters. This time, Warren is a bit more than two-dimensional, but I'm not sure what Gardner added was really that interesting.

It seems that, with the high crime rate, and with Warren's semi-abrasive personality, she hasn't been getting much sex lately. And she's getting really frustrated. So much so that she fully intends to sleep with the guy she's out on a first date with at the beginning of the novel. When that's interrupted with the first massacre, she becomes extremely attracted to Alex Wilson, a man who teaches at the academy but who is shadowing one of Warren's fellow detectives for a month during this investigation. Much of their talk is how they're eventually going to get into each other's pants at some point.

I guess honesty is a good thing.

The thing is, Warren is beautifully written in the investigation scenes. She's sharp and to the point, unwilling to put up with any BS from either suspects or people who she's questioning if they appear to be hiding something. I loved reading about her in those scenes, until she flashes back to thinking about Alex and her frustration. It just got annoying after a while.

However, the other two stories are riveting, as Gardner slowly teases out Danielle's history, along with showing her doing a good job as a nurse in the children's psychiatric ward. Danielle reveals little tidbits of her past in each of her chapters, some of it as she's only now coming to realize it because she's repressed the memories.

Victoria's story is even better-written, and it is what adds to the creepiness factor of Live to Tell. It almost hurts seeing the lengths she has to go to in order to keep her son with her at home. Doors that require keys to go in and out because she can't risk him sneaking out of the house. Violent rages where she has to stop him before he can grab a weapon. The mildness of his personality when he's not in one of his rages. And the calmness that he demonstrates when he turns to her and simply says "I'm going to kill you, Mommy." It was very uncomfortable to read about. And impossible to put down.

Gardner ties everything together beautifully, with some other interesting characters that I won't list because there are too many and I don't want to imply who the real culprit of everything is. The focus is on these three women, all damaged in some way, barely living. Warren, who is almost defined by her job because she's too busy for anything else; Victoria, who has no life whatsoever because she can't leave her child for fear of what he will do when he's out of her sight; Danielle, who has survived a full life, but hasn't really lived in it at all. It's an interesting contrast.

All of this leads to a last fifty pages that have to be read in one sitting. The climax to this book is simply wonderful.

With Warren being slightly less of a cipher, Live to Tell is better than The Neighbor. It's a book that brings the reader's attention to some real life horror, illustrating what some parents have to go through with their children. Gardner adds an interesting mystery to the mix as well.

You should definitely pick this up.

Originally published on Curled Up With a Good Book © David Roy, 2010
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on 12 April 2011
In "Live to Tell" Lisa Gardner broaches the difficult, almost taboo subject of serious mental illness in children. She has obviously gone to great lengnths to research the subject and this is reflected the dialogue between her characters. The story begins with Danielle who is the lone survivor of a family massacre carried out by her father. Almost twenty-five years have passed and she still struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother and siblings. Next we are introcuced to Victoria who lives with somebody she both loves and fears. She spends her time anticipating his next move and making sure all the household knives are safely locked away. When another family massacre takes place Sargeant D.D. Warren takes charge of the investigation. This character has appeared in some other Lisa Gardner books. There are several different narrators so this production really does come to life. I found the character of Victoria particularly realistic. We learn about her once-perfect life and how she has had to make some difficult choices, her reaction to her situation is completely believable. D.D's investigation leads her into some new territory including the world of the "New Age" shaman and the supernatural. Gardner writes this story with great sensitivity and each character is brought to life by the skillful narration. There are some very shocking elements to the book as there should be with a good thriller. This is a gripping, well-written tale from start to finsih.
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on 9 May 2014
I have read a number of books by this author and it is the first time I am less than delighted. The story is good but the form of the book is overly complex. The characters are developed enough to just hold attention but not enough to invest in them to any great degree.

Written in chapters that focus on a specific character in short burst whilst the main story develops in long chapters does not engender connection. All the characters and their stories evtually link but random verses of tunes and nursery ryhmes without any'hooks' to help them make sense in relation to the characters just adds to the confusion and disengagement.

Not her best work
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on 27 January 2014
This book is done with 3 parts. you have Danielle Burton who's whole family was murdered when she was 9 and now 25 year later is working in Paediatric Psych ward which is a lock down unit. Than Victoria Oliver who 8 year old son Evan who as loads of mental heath problems, and than you have Detective D.D. Warren who is called in the a murder of a family and than the next day another family is murdered
You get to know more about Danielle and Victoria as the books goes on, another family is murdered and a girl in the lock down unit is found dead
D.D starts looking for the person that has done the murders and ends up at the Paediatric unit as 2 of the murders children had stayed there
You have a few chapter about each person but near the end it all comes together,
It a great read and make you think more about a child with mental illness and the family that look after them
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on 23 February 2011
Lisa Gardner is my favourite author, and this book lived up to that expectation. With its unique twists and page turning capabilities I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes crime fiction.

From amazon, the book took 3 weeks to deliver, when its expected delivery was 3 days. When received it was damaged, but that's a problem on amazons part and the post office, not the book.

The book is roughly 440 pages long. It focuses on the 'sergeant detective D.D. Warren' from the previous books and her quest to solve two family murders, where every member is killed in their own home. The evidence leads them to a troubled pyschiatric ward, where the death toll continues to rise.

The author clevery focuses on her main characters and each chapter is in the point of view of that character, she clevery doesn't reveal the main motive behind the crime until the final chapters where you are the sergeant detective yourself and in a sense get to solve the crime as if you were part of the team.

The authors research into every field she rights about in the book depicts an accurate representation of real life.

I would definitely reccommend this book to anyone.
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on 16 September 2014
And if the woo woo wasn't enough then D.D Warren finished it for me with this author. What a vile woman she is - so rude and arrogant and foul mouthed. And dim (Warren not the author!) A great pity as Lisa Gardner is such a good writer but I really don't want to spend time with such a shallow character who I have grown to dislike immensely.
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on 23 April 2017
I've read more gripping books, however it's definitely worth a read. It took me a while to read it as I could easily put it down and come back to it between other books.
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