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Find Her


Find Her

FIND HER is the eighth installment in Lisa Gardner’s D. D. Warren series, and it may be the detective’s most complicated case yet. Though the series revolves around the cases investigated by D. D., the true star of the novel is Flora Dane --- victim, vigilante and survivor.

Seven years ago, Boston resident Flora was kidnapped in Florida while on spring break. She spent the next 472 days trapped in a coffin-shaped box, released only on rare occasions to be abused and violated by her abductor. Gardner begins FIND HER with a chilling chapter in which Flora describes life in the box. Although this is a fate unimaginable to most, Gardner does a remarkable job of describing not only the crushing loneliness and pain, but also the endless desire to do anything --- even hurt yourself --- just to break up the monotony. Although Flora has some distance from her trauma, it is clear that she has not allowed herself to truly heal since her rescue, as all of her thoughts are tied to those 472 days.

"Few authors can create such a cold character who can still elicit feelings from the reader, especially without employing boring clichés and tropes. Gardner does none of this and keeps her narrative fresh and succinct, an impressive balance for any writer."

Alternating between Flora’s time in the box and present-day Boston, Gardner introduces Flora 2.0, the woman Flora has become since her rescue. Where she was once supposedly lighthearted and carefree, Flora now has become cold, calculating and nearly obsessive in her desire to track down other men like her abuser. When we meet her, in fact, she is throwing back an expensive martini at a bar, not to relax, but to position herself as bait. Though her desire to prevent other girls from her fate may have started out well-intentioned, it is clear that Flora has become reckless. Later that evening, she is kidnapped by an amateur who she immediately kills.

There is no love lost when D. D. first meets Flora. Accustomed to helpful witnesses and shell-shocked victims, she is turned off by Flora’s cold detachment from her experience. She is also surprised --- not pleasantly --- by Flora’s knowledge of police vocabulary and procedurals. When Flora’s FBI victim advocate arrives on the scene, D. D. begins to suspect that there is far more to Flora than meets the eye. She soon recalls Flora’s nationwide, media-driven rescue, but it is clear that she dislikes the girl, seeing her as a dangerous vigilante rather than a victim. Her opinion changes a bit, however, when her colleagues find evidence that suggests Flora’s kidnapper had previously abducted other girls. Although Flora has not committed a crime and, in fact, has helped the detectives, D. D. decides to keep an eye on her. Unfortunately, she does not watch closely enough, and Flora is abducted from her very safe apartment later that evening.

When we next see Flora, she is being held captive in a pitch-black room filled with only a mattress, a bucket and a wooden coffin identical to the one where she once spent 472 days. Her original kidnapper was killed during her rescue, so she knows it can’t be him, but this knowledge does nothing to stop her memories from flooding back. Although she fights to convince herself that she is okay, this is the most she has allowed herself to feel in years, and it is painful. Meanwhile, D. D. and Flora’s victim advocate, Samuel Keynes, are struggling to put together the facts of Flora’s initial disappearance and present-day life, a difficult task considering her detachment and proclivity to silence. What follows is a race against the clock, for both Flora and D. D., as they try to identify Flora’s newest abductor.

In an intriguing twist, chapters alternate not only between Flora and D. D., but Flora’s past as well. In short but vivid scenes, we are walked through Flora’s original kidnapping and all of its emotions, abuses and horrors. Gardner carefully reveals facts of Flora’s history while still keeping readers in the dark about what really happened during those 472 days. As the alternating storylines begin to collide, however, it becomes clear that Flora --- and the reader --- must fully confront her past in order to survive through her present. This is not an easy read for anyone, but Gardner writes with an immediacy that will compel you to flip through pages without ever taking a break. Her powerful descriptions will very nearly crush you, but this will only give you a glimpse of what Flora endured. Gardner definitely has done her research and has a knack for peppering in hard facts about psychology and victimhood with delicious suspense.

FIND HER has an interesting parallel in that both Flora and D. D. have incredible deductive skills, but very little facts to go on. This creates a fascinating structure for readers as they watch the case being solved from both sides. This is not the sort of book where you will solve the case before the characters, as the mystery is complex and often misleading. Gardner’s talent for character development will also keep you on your toes, making for a highly suspenseful read.

Although I have never read a D. D. Warren thriller before, I found myself quickly captivated by her sharp wit and even sharper intellect. The true highlight of the book, however, is Flora. Few authors can create such a cold character who can still elicit feelings from the reader, especially without employing boring clichés and tropes. Gardner does none of this and keeps her narrative fresh and succinct, an impressive balance for any writer. I cannot wait to see where she takes D. D. next.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on February 12, 2016

Find Her
by Lisa Gardner

  • Publication Date: October 18, 2016
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton
  • ISBN-10: 0451477162
  • ISBN-13: 9780451477163