Alone is the second novel I’ve read by Lisa Gardner, and is part of her D.D. Warren and Bobby Dodge series (unrelated to Gone which is part of the Peirce Quincy series.)
In comparison to Gone I found Alone much harder to get into. I believe this to be because the events in Alone take place over a much longer period of time, therefore the pace of Alone is much slower than that of Gone. It was still a compelling novel, Gardner’s attention to detail continued to impress and eventually I found myself unable to put it down, but it certainly took much longer to get that point than when I was reading Gone.
Despite it being part of the D.D. Warren series, this book follows Bobby Dodge closely and D.D. Warren appears only intermittently. Perhaps reading the series in order would be better but unfortunately I had no concept of there being an order or different series in fact. The inside covers of Gardner novels do highlight her other works, but it does nothing to help the reader follow either series or any kind of order.
Moving on, Alone was fascinating in regards to its plot and character development. There were truly unexpected turn of events, plot twists which were described in a way which was just enough; never too much- making them believable and I would never have suspected them. Again, as in Gone, character development within Alone is a driving force in this novel. It flows easily within the plot, paragraphs are just the right length and descriptive passages are acute; with minor characters being used to add context to our major characters.
Crime thrillers are often so abundant with minor characters, police etc. thankfully I don’t feel that Gardner has fallen into this literary trap of the genre.
Alone produced some very strong emotions from me as a reader. There was plenty of death, murder and sexual tension. Raw emotion flowed from the characters such as Bobby Dodge and Catherine Gagnon and I felt the shock they felt, the fear they experienced and the drive to survive was so forcefully evident- it made me unable to put the book down. I kept willing those major characters to make that all important connection, to realise who the real threat was. Those parts in particular were very exciting to read.
One interesting technique Gardner has used in Alone, is that she never allows her readers to become completely trusting of any of the characters. One sentence, one action can change how you feel about a certain person. But in the next chapter you can be forced to re-think this opinion again and again. You are never wholly sure of who is bad and who is good; perhaps this is a reflection on the idea that people are a combination of both. By the end of the novel I was still unsure of Catherine Gagnon, and the answers and never fully revealed. But don’t worry this doesn’t leave you feeling too dissatisfied; there is enough resolution to whet a reader’s appetite.
Once more I strongly encourage you try Lisa Gardner’s work, but would wholly advocate that you try to reader the series in order, I don’t doubt this would improve your overall experience of Gardner and her characters.
© Gemma Feltham 2 November 2014