THE NEIGHBOR, Lisa Gardner’s latest work, takes the
mystery and thriller genres into slightly new directions. While the
book features the welcome return of D. D. Jackson, last seen in
HIDE, the Boston police detective is by no means the primary
character. She shares the spotlight with a very enigmatic and
memorable cast of individuals in a novel that tells the story of an
inexplicable disappearance, the investigation of which is hampered
by past events and current shame.
Initially, the premise of THE NEIGHBOR seems to be a deceptively
simple one. Sandra Jones, a young, attractive middle school
teacher, disappears one night, leaving her four-year-old daughter
at home alone and asleep. Her husband, Jason, is a newspaper
reporter who covers the graveyard shift. He comes home in the
middle of the night and finds his wife missing, yet waits three
hours before reporting her absence. D. D. Jackson is assigned to
the case, and immediately senses that all is not right. Jason is
withdrawn, secretive and wholly uncooperative with the police, an
odd set of circumstances that makes the initial law enforcement
conclusion --- that Jason is responsible for Sandra’s
disappearance --- even stronger.
The narrative switches perspective among a number of characters.
Jackson, Jason and, in the days and hours leading up to her
disappearance, Sandra, as well as others, slowly but surely reveal
secrets and events past and present. Sandra and Jason had an odd
relationship that somehow worked, if not always well. Jackson is
all but certain of Jason’s culpability, but there is a wild
card in the mix. A registered sex offender lives just down the
street from the Jones family, and his status as such marks him as a
person of interest almost immediately.
Convicted of statutory rape, Aidan Brewster’s
post-incarceration life is tied together with a fragile rope that
is fraying day by day. Gainfully employed