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by Lisa Gardner
Orion, February 2005
352 pages
ISBN: 0752852280

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lisa Gardner cut her teeth on fiction whilst still a student. She earned her crust (one must supply something on which one's teeth may crunch) initially by writing romantic suspense. Gradually she swapped genres, romantic suspense occupying her writing talents. Now, in ALONE, the quantity of what could be deemed romance is minuscule -- although a quantity of lust still graces her pages. To my delight, her previously favoured protagonist, FBI Agent Pierce Quincy, does not make an appearance.

Bobby Dodge is a State Trooper. He is at the end of his shift when a call comes in which needs his special skills. There is a domestic incident in which a man is threatening his wife and young son. Dodge is the first officer on the scene and when he observes the man's finger tightening on the trigger of his gun while his face exhibits what Bobby thinks of as 'the look', Dodge sees no alternative but to shoot. The man's wife frames the words 'thank you', something which subsequently gives the officer much to think about .

Bobby seems to receive plenty of support from his peers. After all, it could have been anyone's misfortune to have to kill Jimmy Gagnon, son of powerful judge James Gagnon. The support gradually dissipates as suspicion is cast on Bobby's motives. Did he, perhaps have some relationship with the beautiful but tragically warped Catherine Gagnon?

Soon, after his liaison with girlfriend Susan ends, Bobby feels he is completely alone and entirely without support. Catherine, too, feels herself to be utterly without protection so turns to the only person she thinks would understand - Bobby. Her son Nathan is ill and some people see her as the cause of that illness. Her father-in-law is threatening her, determined to gain custody of Nathan and someone is murdering all who might exert themselves on her behalf.

This is an ingenious tale. I have criticised Gardner previously because she does tend to multiply twists and turns unnecessarily. I feel that in this work she may have done so at least once too many -- the final twist of the story stretched my credibility just a fraction too much. This having been said, I can only admire the deft touch with which the author ensures the reader's breathless attention. Lisa Gardner has certainly needed to do a great deal of research, both in matters medical as well as those involving police snipers and support.

Readers who have followed this writer's career with interest will be rewarded for their persistence since, to my mind at least, the standard of her books is improving.

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, January 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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