There is a reason I enjoy reading Lisa Gardner’s novels, I always learn something about the darker side of human nature or humanity. In LIVE TO TELL (4th book in the Detective D.D. Warren series) the subject was children struggling with mental illness caused by a mental or chemical imbalance or abuse and it’s tragic consequences. The following line from the book hit me hard: ”Parents think the worst thing that can happen to their five-year-old is cancer. They’re wrong; the worst thing that can happen to their five-year-old is mental illness.” Was I prepared to read about such a delicate subject?
I was immediately drawn into the story when I read one of the protagonist’s, Victoria, statement about life: “These things happen, though. Not all at once. But bit by bit, moment by moment, choice by choice. There are pieces of yourself that once you give away, you can never get back again.” Of course it had me questioning what pieces of her life did she give up and what caused it. When I found out, it was horrible and heart breaking.
We also get to know more about D.D. Warren in this book. She’s sharp, dedicated to her career, and don’t take B.S from anyone. We got to see a little more into her private life, what she thinks and currently wants (when not solving crime), which is sex and food, not necessarily in that order. I’m finally warming up to her. Gardner populates her story with some interesting characters some who you feel sympathy for like Victoria, Danielle, and the children afflicted with mental illness. My favorite character was the Shaman Andrew Lightfoot and how he tried to make D.D. look at childhood mental illness in a spiritual way.
LIVE TO TELL is a compelling story that drew me in with the real life horror families have to deal with children facing mental illness. Add in multiple murders, mystery, and a determined women to see things through, well you have one hell of a story.