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Find Her by Lisa Gardner

Find Her by Lisa Gardner
Pub. Date: October 18, 2016
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Dutton!)
Summary: Seven years ago, carefree college student Flora was kidnapped while on spring break. For 472 days, Flora learned just how much one person can endure.

Miraculously alive after her ordeal, Flora has spent the past five years reacquainting herself with the rhythms of normal life, working with her FBI victim advocate, Samuel Keynes. She has a mother who’s never stopped loving her, a brother who is scared of the person she’s become, and a bedroom wall covered with photos of other girls who’ve never made it home.

When Boston detective D. D. Warren is called to the scene of a crime—a dead man and the bound, naked woman who killed him—she learns that Flora has tangled with three other suspects since her return to society. Is Flora a victim or a vigilante? And with her firsthand knowledge of criminal behavior, could she hold the key to rescuing a missing college student whose abduction has rocked Boston? When Flora herself disappears, D.D. realizes a far more sinister predator is out there. One who’s determined that this time, Flora Dane will never escape. And now it is all up to D. D. Warren to find her.
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary, Mystery

While on spring break, Flora was kidnapped and held for nearly 500 days, forced to do unspeakable things with and for her captor and, when she wasn’t entertaining him, her time was spent inside a pine coffin – completely consumed by the darkness and unable to move.

Five years ago she was rescued, but the Flora that went missing isn’t the Flora that was returned and since that day, she’s made it her mission to track down other missing girls. When a suspected rapist winds up dead the police begin to wonder if Flora is more vigilante than victim…until she goes missing once more.

There’s nothing I love more in the fall than curling up with a crime novel. Something about the chill in the air brings out the armchair detective in me and I revel in the gory details, the heinous acts, the gruesome murders. While temperatures are still well above normal here (I think Pittsburgh broke a record yesterday!) I’m already in that mystery mindset and spent my weekend completely immersed in Lisa Gardner’s Find Her.

While Find Her is the 8th novel in this series, don’t be alarmed: it can be read as a standalone! Detective D.D. Warren is the main character of the series and I easily came to know who she is, what her backstory was, without having to first read the seven earlier novels. In this one she’s back to work after an injury, but placed on restrictive duty…something she is NOT pleased about. Also, because of her injury, she takes a backseat in this novel, something I’ve discovered from other readers is a bit out of the norm for Gardner. From what I’ve gathered, Warren is featured prominently throughout the rest of the series, but to be honest, her lack of a presence didn’t cause the story to suffer. Instead, it’s Flora who takes center stage and what a character she was!

Interspersed throughout the story are short chapters from Flora’s time spent with her captor, starting from the beginning when she wakes up to find herself trapped inside a coffin throughout the 400+ days until she’s rescued. Not only did these glimpses into her past have my skin crawling, but I was shocked (and slightly horrified) to find myself becoming sympathetic toward her captor, much as Flora did. Victim bonding (aka Stockholm Syndrome) is a key player in Find Her and the further I dug into Flora’s story, the more I came to understand how murky that water could be. This is not a clear-cut, black-and-white issue and bravo, Ms. Gardner.

While the ending was a little formulaic, I had to admit I did not immediately guess the whodunnit. From the very first page I was hooked and was desperate to know more about Flora’s kidnapping – in fact I was so absorbed in the book I barely moved an inch the entire weekend! I was rooted to my chair, flipping the pages as fast as I could. If the crime wasn’t intriguing enough, the questions Gardner raises about victim bonding certainly made me pause and take a second look! Find Her is an excellent thriller and I’m ecstatic Lisa Gardner has no many other novels – I need more of her books in my life!

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