Fear Nothing: A Detective D.D. Warren Novel
FEAR NOTHING marks the beginning of a bit of a sea change in Lisa Gardner’s D.D. Warren canon. We see D.D., a Boston police detective, as we have never seen her before: not helpless but certainly hobbled, and dangerously so. It is an interesting concept that is not commonly used in series fiction, and a chancy one at that, but is carried off by Gardner with great aplomb.
The injury sustained by D.D. occurs while she is investigating the particularly grisly murder of a young woman in her apartment. D.D. is not a 9 to 5 cop, and as a result is revisiting the crime scene late at night when she experiences a frightening encounter with someone who may well be the perpetrator. The incident leaves her with a memory loss and a devastatingly limiting and painful injury that might signal the end of her career. In order to regain her physical capacity --- or, at the very least, keep the damage from becoming any worse --- D.D. begins a multifaceted course of physical therapy that includes sessions with a pain management therapist named Adeline Glen.
"Lisa Gardner is at her absolute best in FEAR NOTHING, particularly when she lobs a bomb or two into the proceedings, which she does to great effect. But the primary attraction here is the chilling, twisted and brilliant villain of the piece, who will have you checking under the bed as you read and long after you finish."
This treatment is ironic for two reasons. The first is that Adeline is one of a handful of known people who is afflicted with a genetic condition that makes them impervious to pain. This might not seem like an “affliction,” but as Gardner demonstrates through Adeline’s narrative, interspersed throughout the main story, such a condition carries a fatal potential with it. Pain, as the therapist notes, is good. It is a warning signal, the body’s way of alerting each of us to potential danger.
The second ironic point concerns Adeline’s background, as she comes from a family of serial murderers. Her sister, Shana Day, killed her first victim, a young boy who lived next door, at the tender age of 14 while living in the latest of a series of foster homes. Having been incarcerated since that time, Shana has the dubious distinction of having killed more people within prison than without. Her pedigree certainly accounts for her predilection, at least in part: her father, Harry Day, was a notorious serial killer, a fiend who murdered his victims and buried them under the home he shared with his family. Though Harry has been dead for some four decades, the killer who D.D. was investigating at the time of her injury seems to be copying his methods and know things about him that were never common knowledge.
When the current killer strikes again, D.D, still hurting and incapacitated, is brought back into the investigation, given that she may well be the only living person who has seen him in action. However, she is impeded not only by her physical limitations but also by her ongoing memory loss, which is resolving all too slowly. Meanwhile, the killer, who seemingly comes and goes invisibly at will, may be closer than anyone involved in the investigation may otherwise suspect.
Lisa Gardner is at her absolute best in FEAR NOTHING, particularly when she lobs a bomb or two into the proceedings, which she does to great effect. But the primary attraction here is the chilling, twisted and brilliant villain of the piece, who will have you checking under the bed as you read and long after you finish.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 8, 2014