A Love Story: Murder and Abuse in South Boston

In this suspenseful and evocative detective mystery, The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner, a mother has abandoned her South Boston home and her sleeping child in the middle of the of the night. She left behind her cell phone and wallet; only the blue comforter on her bed and the t-shirt she sleeps in are missing. She left no note for her husband who was working late that night.

Her husband, a night-shift reporter for a Boston paper, returned home after midnight to discover the child asleep alone in the house, but he waited several hours before dialing 9-1-1. Because of the unusual circumstances, the responding police officer immediately called homicide detective D. D. Warren who begins to investigate on the assumption that in all likelihood the missing mother has been murdered.

The investigation runs into problems; there is little evidence of violence only a broken lamp and they cannot interview the 4-year-old daughter because the husband refuses to give them permission.The hours turn into days as the detective and her crew search for witnesses, collect background on neighbors and investigate the husband. The detective identifies two prime suspects, the husband and a neighbor who is a registered sex offender, but there is no hard evidence yet of a crime. To add to the detective’s problem the media arrives and is now camping out at the crime scene with flood lights. The pressure on her to solve the crime mounts.

Then, the detective widens the investigation and, the case complicates becomes even more complex. The suspect list grows to include a teenage computer whiz in love with the woman, a Boston cop with a conflict of interest, and the missing woman’s estranged stepfather who wants custody of her child. But where is the missing person? Has she been murdered? Detective Warren and the Boston police force are baffled.

Cleverly, the author tells readers the shocking but informative back-stories  of the missing woman, her husband and the neighbor sex-offender. These revelations are told in first-person journal-like accounts and reveal to us their states of mind and give details of abuse and sexual molestation. Too bad the detective doesn’t have ready access to this information so vital to the case; she must rely on police procedures to ferret out the truth.

As in all good stories, eventually the muddle clears and there is a murder to solve. This is great detective mystery told in a novel way. I am very impressed and look forward to reading another novel by Lisa Gardner.

Carto
Day 28: The Neighbor (Detective D. D. Warren) (Lisa Gardner) (2009).
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About carto

Retired software engineer who grew up in Montana, went to Montana State College in Bozeman, and moved to California to work at Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Carto's Library is about books I've read and liked; Carto's Logbook is about photography, travel and adventure. Mt. Maurice Times is tall tales mostly biographical.
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