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Bobby Dodge is more than just a State Trooper. He is also a member of the Special Tactics and Operations Team (STOP), an elite unit that are assembled to assist whenever needed. When Dodge receives the call to attend a domestic siege, he is just finishing a long shift but immediately attends the scene which involves an armed man who has barricaded himself in his home with his wife and child. Dodge is a designated sniper and taking up his position opposite the house, he watches the hostage stand-off unfold. Finding that he only has a split second to react as things come to a head and the woman and child's lives appear to be in immediate danger, he takes the man out with his rifle.
Twenty five years ago, Catherine Gagnon was abducted from the street and literally buried underground for 28 days by a sadistic paedophile who kept her alive to abuse her, until she was miraculously found and rescued from her living hell by some hunters.
Now her husband has been killed and her father-in-law, the powerful Judge Gagnon, is blaming her.
Bobby Dodge and Catherine Gagnon are brought together in a moment of violence but the death of Catherine's husband is not the end of it. A killer is loose and unfortunate Catherine once again finds herself vulnerable and helpless. Bobby Dodge meanwhile, not only has to deal with the routine investigations following his shooting of Catherine Gagnon's husband, but also as it begins to emerge that Judge Gagnon believes Catherine colluded and plotted to have her husband killed, he finds himself being suspected as being part of the plot.
But how could he be, when he has never met Catherine Gagnon before? Or has he...?
What started out as a routine assignment becomes a mightmare for Bobby Dodge as he finds himself fighting to clear his name and also to stay alive...
Having read a couple of novels previously by Lisa Gardner and enjoying them, I was confident that I would enjoy reading 'Alone'. Described as a terrific psychological thriller full of twists it seemed right up my street.
The book begins with State Trooper Bobby Dodge just beginning to unwind after finishing his fifteen hour shift, when the call comes for him to attend a hostage scene. It then cuts to the events back in 1980, where Catherine Gagnon was abducted on her way home from school and held and abused in a dark underground prison for 28 days, before quickly bringing the reader back to the present as Catherine once again fears her life and that of her young son's, Nathan, is in danger and rings 911 telling them her husband Jimmy has a gun.
It was easy to become absorbed right away in this book as Gardener takes the reader straight into the heart of the action and by the time the first few action-packed pages had ended I found I was right into the story and keen to find out what exactly was going on, as I had immediately began to think that all was not as it seems.
What follows is a indeed a psychological thriller with a number of twists. The main characters in the book, Bobby Dodge and Catherine Gagnon were very well developed with Catherine as a manipulative and beautiful woman who has survived a horrifying ordeal, which has naturally left her with more than a few problems including a fear of the dark, but seemingly also bearing scars that nobody has been able to pick up on. Catherine has managed to remain a 'victim' in all the events surrounding her life since being rescued from her 28 days of abuse.
Bobby Dodge is an intelligent officer and competent sniper, however, it soon seems he is not as strong as he thinks he is as he finds himself under Catherine's spell, which also places him in further trouble whilst under investigation, as his job dictates he should not be having anything to do with her.
Bobby finds himself not knowing what or whom to believe and I thought it was both clever and interesting how the author has portrayed his character, showing him as a strong man but then also introducing a weak side to his character, with a few issues of his own. Although I enjoyed his character unfolding, I found him a little pathetic also, as it appears no man can resist the charms of Catherine Gagnon and that includes Bobby. I found myself getting angry with his character as I thought what a fool he was being, even though his foolishness ultimately added to the twists of the story and made for some compelling reading.
I did think the 'no man can resist Catherine Gagnon' theme which runs throughout the story, somewhat unbelievable and far-fetched, even to the point of me finding it tiresome in places. Some of the story surrounding how irresistible Catherine is and also Bobby's utter stupidity as a clever man seemingly taking leave of his senses, I did not find realistic. However, on reflection it was part of the story and added to the twists near the end. Overall I just felt maybe it was taken too far on occasion.
The best thing about reading this book was that I did not guess the ending. There were a few susrprises along the way which I did not see coming and good supporting characters such as Judge Gagnon and Mr Bosu, who are both out for revenge, with each having their own individual motives but linked together by a common bond.
Although a couple of parts of the story were far-fetched and unbeliveable, 'Alone' is a good thriller overall and has a very good readability factor.
Whilst it is not my favourite Lisa Gardner novel, it is nonetheless a book I enjoyed reading.
This book caught my eye at my work's charity book sale, I'm not sure what this says about me though as it's cover is Green with a black shadowy effect and the words don't turn out the lights....alone on the front. But for one whole pound I figured why not.
* ^ * Plot * ^ *
Although the story is told in the present tense, you are told the flashback story of one of the lead character's Catherine Gagnon at the beginning of this novel. 25 years previously at the age of eleven Catherine was kidnapped and kept underground by a peodophile who forced her to do some awful things under the guise that if she didn't he would kill her. Catherine obviously escaped due to her still being around to tell the tale twenty five years later. But her life has been far from easy.
Catherine married the son of a high profile court judge and her and husband Jimmy have not been seeing eye to eye recently, what with his affairs and her supposed mistreatment of their son it's not the easiest household to live in. But then again it also isn't a household State trooper Bobby Dodge expects to be called to late one night armed with his sniper rifle!
The events that unfold that night are nothing compared to the web of secrets, lies, tragedy, fear, lust and murder that all mingle together to form Alone by Lisa Gardner.
* ^ * Opinion * ^ *
Having not read a crime novel for a while I was eager for something to get my teeth into and I am glad it was Alone as it definately did not let me down. The book had me gripped from the beginning, with quite a few subplots all interconnecting it definately makes the brain work to remember who is connected to who and how but it all comes together in an ending that I definately didn't see coming.
I loved the way Gardner shows the developement of some of the key characters and how their pasts have made them do and feel some of the things they feel in the present. It made me think that there had been real effort and research put in to the characters lives.
Never having heard of Lisa Gardner before I am definately glad I stumbled across this one and I will be loooking for more of her books, which I am glad to see there are a few, and I was obviously just unaware of her writing talent. I found that Alone kept me guessing right until the very end, which is a plus with crime fiction as there is nothing worse to me than having to carry on reading when you have already figured out the ending.
Find out more about the author at www.lisagardner.com
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