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Never Tell

Review

Never Tell

A good mystery or thriller gives readers just enough information to be ahead of some of the characters, but still holds enough reveals and surprises to make the story compelling. Lisa Gardner handily manages this balance in her latest novel, NEVER TELL, featuring a couple of familiar faces.

Evelyn Carter is arrested in her own home, gun in hand, near the body of her husband, who had been shot three times, and his computer, which had been shot a dozen times. Though Evie admits to shooting the laptop, she denies killing Conrad, claiming he was dead when she arrived home. But homicide detective D.D. Warren has her doubts, and not just because of the crime scene evidence. Evie had confessed to accidentally fatally shooting her own father in their family home when she was just a teenager. In fact, D.D. was on that case and wonders just how many shootings one person can be innocently involved in.

"...an exciting and ultimately satisfying page-turner with some moments of surprising emotional poignancy as three women race to solve a crime, prevent further harm, and come to understand themselves more clearly along the way."

However, as she investigates Conrad’s murder, Evie’s guilt becomes less and less clear. Could she be telling the truth, and if so, who wanted Conrad dead? D.D.’s doubts dovetail with Evie’s own suspicions about Conrad and help propel the investigation forward.

Joining D.D. and her team is Flora Dane, D.D.’s unpaid informant and vigilante, herself the survivor of a kidnapping and more than a year of horrific abuse at the hands of the monstrous Jacob Ness. Flora is sure she recognizes Conrad from her time with Jacob, and thus the investigative team, including the enigmatic true-crime buff and tech whiz Keith Edgars, pursues both Jacob and Conrad through the dark web, trying to find a connection between them and the motivation and culprit behind Conrad’s murder. Gardner adds to all this the legacy of Evie’s genius father and the dangerous narcissism of her mother, the calculations of the family attorney, a young arsonist called Rocket, an FBI agent and a pregnancy to deliver a fast-paced but character-driven thriller.

NEVER TELL is about the murder of Conrad Carter, but even more about ghosts of the past, family secrets, vengeance and healing from trauma. The perspective shifts from D.D. to Evie to Flora, each moving the story and providing insight. Gardner makes the transitions between characters smooth, and at the end of the book uses those shifts to accelerate the pace and up the tension as all three voices crowd together. While Flora’s backstory hinges on some overused tropes about violence against women, NEVER TELL allows her to begin to move past that violence and find strength. That she gains some of that strength through the trust of another strong woman, D.D., elevates the novel above others with similar motifs.

Overall, this is an exciting and ultimately satisfying page-turner with some moments of surprising emotional poignancy as three women race to solve a crime, prevent further harm, and come to understand themselves more clearly along the way.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on February 22, 2019

Never Tell
by Lisa Gardner

  • Publication Date: February 19, 2019
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton
  • ISBN-10: 1524742082
  • ISBN-13: 9781524742089