I was actually searching the bookshops for Karin Slaughter's latest (to be called either "Undone" or "Genesis"), since it's been released in the rest of the world. Of course, Perth being the pimple on the ass end of the world, we'll probably have to wait a couple more months. Just to demonstrate, I discovered "The Neighbour" by Lisa Gardner at Dymocks - just the one copy. Absolutely no copies at Borders. This is an author with 10 previous Top 10 bestsellers under her belt. You'd think the release of her latest would be a little better stocked. Maybe publishers think people in Perth don't read. In any case, I was very excited, since I knew that was the next couple of evenings stitched up for me.
"The Neighbour" focuses on the disappearance of Sandra Jones, a young mother in a seemingly perfect marriage to news reporter Jason Jones, with 4-year-old daughter Clarissa. As the book progresses, we learn that things were not as they seemed in this family. Another plot strand follows Aidan Brewster, a convicted sex offender who knows he will become a suspect. Then there's Sgt. D.D. Warren, who has been a secondary character in Gardner's previous novels "Alone" and "Hide". She's the lead investigator who hopes to follow up on some leads before the inevitable media firestorm.
Lisa Gardner is one of my favourite authors, so I was a happy chappy in the two nights it took me to finish this one. She's a good writer and a lot of this book kept me guessing. It's one of those books you devour yet don't want to end. Nevertheless, once it was all over, some issues did bug me. I'm not going to spoil anything, but elements of the ending are more than a little contrived. If Gardner wasn't such a pro, you could lable it very soap opera-ish. Luckily, actually getting to the ending provides most of the fun, so it's an easy sin to forgive. The biggest issue has to do with the "investigation" angle. Once all is said and done, D.D. Warren and her partner Det. Mitchell come across as pretty stupid. All the other characters have remained five steps ahead of them, and their inclusion in the plot feels very unnecessary, since they can't seem to figure out a single thing for themselves. They're even outsmarted by a thirteen-year-old boy! You could have removed them from the story completely and not lost any of the plot's momentum. Not good, really!
To a lesser degree, I was bothered by links to Gardner's previous book "Say Goodbye". By incorporating parts from that book, which belongs in one series, and then including D.D. Warren, who belongs in another series, the timelines don't quite match. I could be wrong, however, since I don't fully remember "Say Goodbye" (other than it being a good read). In the end, "The Neighbour" is definitely worth picking up, because it does keep the truth neatly hidden, and is very hard to put down. And if you enjoy it, hurry off to the bookstore/library and read "The Killing Hour" and "Hide", two of Gardner's best.