Thursday 9 September 2010

Book review : Live To Tell - Lisa Gardner

Wow ! You know how, when you're watching a horror movie or a psychological drama on TV, you have the creepy music and the atmospheric lighting and the bad guy unexpectedly leaps out of the shadows and always makes you jump ? Well, Lisa Gardner has the ability to do that with her writing ! My husband actually laughed at me when I was reading in bed next to him and he heard a sharp intake of breath ! Books can't use all the special effects, noises or visual elements that set the scene so it takes a talented writer to achieve the same thing. Lisa Gardener manages it every time.

Live To Tell relates the story of ... well, there isn't really one key central character because their tales all intertwine and you're never sure who are the good guys and the bad guys and who is the most important character until the very final pages. It vaguely centres around Danielle, a young psych nurse who, as a child, was the sole survivor when her father (probably) murdered his whole family before turning the gun on himself as she cowered in her room. Twenty five years on, she is still haunted by the memories and has dedicated her life to working with mentally troubled kids on a lockdown paedeatric psych ward. When other families linked to the psych ward start to be similarly wiped out, a team of detectives start trying to work out who is to blame and who will be next. Danielle becomes a suspect, but she is far from alone.

The plot has more twists and turns than an epileptic snake and your brain will be fizzing by the end ! I worked it all out several times. And every time I was totally wrong ! It's one of those books where you have to remember to breathe at the end of the chapter because you'll suddenly realise you've been holding your breath !

The author explains at the end that she spent time on a lockdown paedeatric psych ward and talked to families of mentally disturbed kids so her depiction of the whole explosive atmosphere is spot on. This added element of realism just makes it all the more heart-rending. The characters, even the good guys, are all deeply flawed but that just makes us like them even more because we can really relate to them.

I loved The Neighbour when I read it last year and I was worried that, as is often the case, the next book that I read by Lisa Gardner wouldn't live up to my expectations. I needed have worried, it did. The blurb on the back of the book says "Lisa Gardner will mess with your head". That's true but they forget to mention that she'll mess with your nerves too !

star rating : 5/5

RRP : £12.99

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Orion (22 July 2010)
ISBN-10: 1409101045
ISBN-13: 978-1409101048

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