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Catch Me    by Lisa Gardner order for
Catch Me
by Lisa Gardner
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2012 (2012)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Lisa Gardner tackles two timely and disturbing themes in her latest: Internet predators and the victims of mothers suffering from Münchausen syndrome by proxy. Both themes are equally disturbing, particularly if you have children who regularly surf the Internet. As Gardner notes in her Acknowledgement, she was horrified by 'all the ways the World Wide Web can be used to stalk and victimize young children'.

As a child, Charlene Rosalind Carter Grant suffered horribly at her mother's hands. Charlie was eventually taken in by her aunt to live a happier, small town life with her two best friends. Now someone has murdered her friends and Charlie is certain she's the killer's next target. She’ll do whatever it takes to get the best detective in Boston, DD Warren, investigating the case.

Once DD takes a closer look into Charlie's murky history, however, many facts don’t add up. Is Charlie really the victim here, or is she merely creating an intricate fantasy life to throw investigators off her real agenda: systematically eliminating local pedophiles targeting young boys?

The story begins with a superb hook: Charlene Grant's insistence that she's going to be murdered on January 21st, and that if her killer succeeds, she wants DD Warren on the case. Who wouldn't want to see what happens next?

As always, Gardner's talent for creating a troubled protagonist and exposing every raw nerve of her childhood and current ordeal shines, as does Charlie's strength and perseverance in trying to outmanuever the mysterious killer she's so sure will come gunning for her. Appearances by various characters from some of Gardner's previous thrillers also add to the plotting.

On the other hand, and after five books, I still haven't really warmed up to DD Warren's character: the detective's been too abrasive and uncompromising, since Gardner hasn't really given readers more than a glimmer into her personal life; this softer side of her (after the birth of her son) isn't quite the right fit thus far either. Perhaps a bit less of the procedural (scenes that occasionally seemed redundant) and more time spent interacting with her FBI boyfriend Gabriel as well as trying to win over her distant parents might have achieved a better balance.

In the last third of Catch Me, the action ramps up considerably and throws open a barrel of revelations and surprises, as well as another of the author's chilling conclusions - a blend that clearly demonstrates why, in my opinion, Lisa Gardner is the queen of truly twisted plots.

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