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The Neighbour - Lisa Gardner

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6 Reviews

Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Lisa Gardner / Hardcover / 384 Pages / Book is published 2009-07-23 by Orion

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    6 Reviews
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      08.09.2012 11:03
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      Excellent suspense thriller

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      When a beautiful young mother Sandra disappears the Boston Police fear the worst. Not only have they an urgent investigation on their hand but they fear massive media interest in the missing lady and her family. Added to this her husband Jason is a journalist this is going to be a case that gets a lot of media coverage. Jason reports his wife missing when in comes in from work in the early hours of the morning, to find the house all locked up with only their four year old daughter Ree in residence asleep in bed.


      Detective Sergeant D.D. Warren arrives on the scene and is very quickly struck by how unhelpful and secretive Jason is about his family. Not allowing the Police to take anything away without a search warrant. However after a brief chat with his daughter she realises the little girl knows something about why her mother has disappeared,but at this stage as her cat Mr Smith is also missing her thinks she is out looking for it.


      To the outside world this hard working young family seem to have it all but even within their walls, there are secrets and lies that need to be revealed. D.D. Warren must try and find the truth and discover what has happened to Sandra Jones as if she fails on this high profile case it will be the end of her career.


      ==My thoughts on the novel:==


      I really did not want to read this book!! The reason for this I read 'Hide' by this author a few weeks ago and absolutely loved it and I didn't see how anything the author would write after this could compare to it. But I am very glad to say I really enjoyed this one too and while I don't think it was quite as good it still was a very enjoyable and marvellous book. Again the basis for this for me was the wonderful characters that were created within the story and I certainly found a real empathy with the little girl Ree who wanted her mummy back home.


      The author Lisa Gardner has so far written six stories in the D.D. Warren series, this is the third one and it was first published in 2009. Additionally this American author has written eight other novels.
      For me these crime stories in terms of style I would say they are similar to Peter Robinson or Stephen Booth. They are full of depth and I get the impression that every angle and every stone is covered in the investigation.


      Despite having no intention of reading this book, I made the fatal mistake of checking out the summary of this book on line. That is what sold me because it was three paragraphs long and told of this young mother going missing and an unhelpful husband not being as co-operative as the Police would have liked or expected. Immediately I was intrigued and especially as the author was hinting there was far more to this small family than met the eye. Luckily I still had an Amazon voucher and was able to purchase it for less than five pounds.


      I was also interested as to the novel's title. As to me it meant the danger was very close at hand and made me suspicious of all this couple's neighbours. And while we were introduced to them I think the author because of this title could had introduced one or two more into the story just to make the reader think a little bit more. As for me this was probably not the most appropriate title for the book and I thought something like 'Danger at Hand or at Close Quarters would have been more suitable.


      The story started with Sandra pottering around her home shortly before she disappears. It is a very good start to the story because it introduces this small family through her eyes and ends with the reader unsure what has happened to her, is she dead or mearly hurt? I found even at this stage I did not want her dead as from these first few pages she sounded an interesting lady and I wanted to know all about her and their life as a family.


      I liked the way the story developed by introducing a couple of suspects into the story very quickly. And at the back of my mind was always why was her husband Jason being so difficult it was almost as if he did not want his wife found and the case investigated. The story would follow all the main characters and give you details about the, their lives and their opinions, but never so much as you could illiminate them from the investigation and doubt was always cast upon them. I think the only character in the story I did not think was the guilty party was Ree their four year old daughter.


      I think the only thing that missified me throughout the story was how much trouble the Police had in discovering the background to this family. For example where all their money came from when neither parent had a particularly high paid job. I just expected them to be able to find out all about the family and their history with little effort even if they were trying to conceal it. Maybe this is realistic and just through the Police would be able to find out anything in an investigation of this type.


      I found I was totally wrapped up in the story from start to finish and while I always wanted a happy outcome to the story I was sure the author would not be as predictable as that. As she kept introducing new concepts and ideas into the mix that confused the picture and made the reader look at what had happened from a different angle. Her use of suspense was excellent and while I had my own ideas of what really happened I was well wide on the mark on this occasion.


      For me the highlight was the concluding chapters of the story, because I really needed to know what happened. And I am very glad to say all the pieces fitted together superbly and I was left with the impression the author had completed a well thought out and told story. Yes I would like to know what happened next but at least I can use my own imagination for this.


      For me the three main characters in this story was Sandra, Jason and their daughter Ree. The author was able to keep the missing Sandra in the story throughout by sharing with the reader her thoughts at various times in her life. This was always easy to follow as it was written in a different font and helped to cast suspicion on various characters not least her own husband, who seemed to have his own hidden life from the family. I liked both Sandra and Ree but Jason I found annoying because he was so hell bent on the truth not coming out.

      I thought the other character DD played a more supporting role. Although she was leading the investigation I felt she didn't achieve nearly as much as she should have done. Maybe again this is honest and realistic but I would have expected her to have got greater support from her management given the the media interest in the case. As a character I find her honest and very likeable, its just a shame she cannot form a relationship.


      The books length for me was just right to tell a very deep,clever and well devised story. I found I really looked forward to every instalment and it was written in such an easy to follow style I never troubled or even considered the fact it was set in Boston, America with a different culture from us. For me even if you have not read the previous stories in this series this would be an excellent opener and you would not be adversely effected by not knowing the previous history in the books.


      ==Conclusion:==


      I would certainly recommend this as a very good piece of crime fiction. For me the main reasons for this was the wonderful characters the author creates in her stories. Plus the well thought out story that was always full of mystery and suspense. And while I would not say it was quite as good as 'Hide' it was still a very enjoyable read, from clearly a clever and intelligent writer who knows how the mesmerise her readers with the quality of her stories.


      ==Other Information:==


      Paperback Version:

      Pages: 448
      Price: 4.96
      Publisher: Orien
      ISBN-10: 1409103358
      ISBN-13: 978-1409103356
      Year first published: 2009
      More about the author: www.lisagardner.com


      Thanks for reading my review


      This review is published under my user name on both Ciao and Dooyoo.


      © CPTDANIELS September 2012.

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        07.07.2012 20:50
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        Questions the 'love thy neighbour' motto

        Having read and reviewed 'Hide' by Lisa Gardner before and really enjoying it, I was looking forward to The Neighbour. I came across it in the library and managed to zip through it quite quickly, being very glad I spotted it.

        The tagline on the cover reads: 'He's closer than you think', along with 'the bestselling author of Hide' to draw us in. We're introduced early on to a new case, that of a missing woman. Sandy, a young mum in her early-mid 20s, disappears from her South Boston home. Her Jason Jones, returns home to find his young daughter, Ree, tucked up in bed, but his wife is no where to be seen. She's blonde and pretty, and after finding no sign of her taking off by her own accord, things don't look good. Jason calls the police but doesn't seem to do so frantically, but rather at a more leisurely pace.

        Detective sergeant D.D. Warren gets called in, a more to-the-point woman with only one thing on her mind: closing the case. Her appearance, along with that of other officers and crime scene techs etc over the next day or two doesn't seem to be greeted altogether too warmly. Jason keeps his daughter close by his side, staying tight-lipped about his wife, refusing to allow Ree to be questioned... All in all, making himself seem like a prime suspect. Add to the suspect list a fairly young convicted paedophile, mix in the lack of evidence, and the strangeness of the situation in general, and the case doesn't seem to make much sense. It could be really simple. The husband killed her and dumped the body. Or the wife ran off. But it appears that it may be far more complex than that, if only something, some clue to the puzzle, could wiggle itself loose.

        I won't say much more on the premise except that as the story continues, a few new characters are thrown in to the mix. Sandy, the missing wife and mother, worked as a school teacher, so links to the school and a particular pupil start to develop. Suspicions and theories start to take the plot on different tangents, keeping us wondering and guessing what's really happening.

        The premise itself was interesting enough to keep the reading intelligent but fresh, with surprises around the corner so that you couldn't guess right off the bat what the ending would be. That's one sign of a good crime thriller; it actually provides some sort of thrill, some element of surprise and mystery that you try to work out as you read.

        What I really liked was the style of Gardner's writing in general. I found the book easy to read and get lost in because it felt fluid, well put together and almost effortless at making me want to turn the page. She's able to gather a storyline and characters together in a realistic way that you can imagine as you read because it's brought to life quite vividly. The characters are well-developed and reading about them is enjoyable as you come to empathise with the key ones involved. In addition, some chapters switch perspective, such as giving it from that of Sandy. This doesn't give the game away or reveal what's happened / happening, rather it serves to provide us with history and insights to the characters. Doing this builds the depth of the story and those involved, which was enjoyable to read about, again because the depth brings greater realism and ability to imagine what's going on.

        The downsides? I'd say that whilst the premise does get more interesting as events and history unfolds, there were points where I thought things were a little on the slow and repetitive side. There's not a great deal in the way of action, it is more of a mystery, but the issue really was with the slow nature of repeating what's happening at a few points throughout the novel. Having said that, however, I didn't really find this put me off or dampened my interest in it. I was still hooked on reading it and finding out what would happen next and who the Jones' really were.

        Further praise on the back for Gardner's work includes: "A twisted, spellbinding thriller. Lisa Gardner always delivers heart-stopping suspense" - Harlan Coben (an author I love), and "A brilliant book, not to be missed under any circumstances" - Independent on Sunday

        All in all, this is one I'd recommend, both for newbies to Gardner and those that are familiar with her books. It's a read that should keep you wanting to turn the page and leave you feeling satisfied by a good crime thriller at the end.

        369 pages over 37 chapters
        Selling for £7.99 (Waterstones)

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          18.05.2012 08:54
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          A truly gripping, twisting , emotional, shocking rollercoaster that will keep you guessing

          I have never written a book review as I personally believe reading is a very personal experience and also that I wouldn't want to spoil the story line!
          I am a prolific reader and will read all sorts of Genre a friend passed this on to me and well I couldn't put it down indeed I finished it in a day staying up well past bedtime!!

          Cost and stockist
          I have to firstly advocate the library where of course the book will be free however if you wish to purchase it is available from Amazon at £4.99 www.amazon.co.uk

          Plot
          This is the bit I will struggle with as how much to tell you without ruining the story well here goes!
          The story begins with "I've always wondered what people felt in the final few hours of their lives" which immediately grabs your interest and to be honest this book keeps you guessing and keeps shocking you to the very last page.
          We are introduced to the Jones family a lovely couple who appear the perfect family but then Sandra disappears leaving her daughter behind and suddenly everything changes and the police cannot find what has happened to her and they discover everything is a little too perfect but underneath nothing is as it seems and the Husband seems intent on destroying evidence.
          Throughout the story we are introduced to alternative views of the leading characters and introduced to additional facts about them which keeps making the reader change their mind about how they see that particular character I changed from feeling great sympathy for Sandra and believing her to be a great mother to considering her as a terrible mother but also feeling sorry for her.
          Each character has their own story within the main story and these stories also challenge us for example the young paedophile who at 16 had a sexual relationship with a 14 year old as a mother of two young girls I immediately felt disgust however later this reaction becomes challenged .

          Recommendation
          I cannot recommend this book enough and I already have read two further books by this author and I have enjoyed both immensely I believe you will enjoy Lisa Gardner if you have enjoyed books by stieg larrson, Jo Nesbo, Harlen coben, rosamund lupton and if you are not a thriller fan then this is a great book as a standalone start it is very well written it challenges you, keeps you guessing and explores lots of angles.
          I have already ordered my next one from the library and cannot wait to get stuck in as I followed this with The perfect Husband and the other Daughter both of which exceeded my expectations in short a brilliant author.

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          28.07.2010 22:13
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          Excellent

          I'm sure I've read other books by Lisa Gardner so when I saw The Neighbour for sale at a mere £2.99 in a local bookstore I decided to buy it. I'm really glad I did because it turned out to be a truly gripping read.

          Sandra and Jason Jones live a very quiet, modest life with their daughter Ree (Clarissa) and seem to be the perfect family. Jason works nights for a newspaper and Sandra works as a much loved and respectable school teacher. Everything is fine with them balancing work and childcare between them until one night Jason returns home from work to find Sandra is gone. No note, no explanation, no signs of a break in and their daughter is still asleep in bed.

          The police naturally suspect Jason is behind his wifes disappearance and his cool exterior only adds fuel to that fire. He seems to do nothing to look for Sandra and his guarded and mysterious personality just make him look guilty of trying to hide the truth. Detective Sergeant D.D Warren, in charge of the case, senses all is not right with the Jones family and starts digging. What will she find?

          This book has two storylines running alongside each other, the present day with Jason and Ree coping without Sandra once she vanishes and the past which is narrated from Sandra's viewpoint. This works well to keep us informed as we piece together what has happened and how. Although I guessed bits of the entire plot I didn't guess it all before we reached the end which is good because it keeps me hooked. I hate when I smugly know all the details way too soon!

          The plot itself is very complex but without too many red herrings that it gets ridiculous, there's certainly alot of potential explanations for what happened to Sandra and all of them seem plausible. The detail and strands of the story will have you guessing right to the end but also tell other stories at the same time so you start to feel like you know everyone in the book.

          All the characters are believable and you really want everything to be ok for Jason and Ree despite the fact everyone seems to think he murdered his wife. Ree is written well and unlike alot of authors Lisa Gardner hasn't credited a 4 year old with too much intelligence or vocabulary. DS D.D Warren even comes across as human and she's the type of person alot of us probably know with her career coming first but dreams of other things often playing across her thoughts. I found I actually wanted this to work out in such a way everybody gets a good result which is unusual because usually I find I'm on one side or the other.

          This book had me completely gripped from start to finish, I just couldn't put it down because there were so many loose threads throughout I wanted them tied up. I didn't do a bad job of guessing most of it but I think it's got the kind of conclusion not many people will see coming. With the detail and many characters involved, the pace never lets up and it's just action and emotion all the way through.

          Overall I loved this book, it's got the suspense and intrigue to keep readers interested, well written characters people will relate to and an ending that isn't predictable. What more could you ask for from a thriller?

          Look out for it in bookstores or buy from Amazon Marketplace for 35p used or £3 new.

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            21.04.2010 20:10
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            Fantastic thriller that you won't be able to put down!

            I've read several of Lisa Gardner's books so I was expecting The Neighbour to be good. I was peasantly surprised that it was even better than I had hoped and it is probably the most gripping story I have read in a long time.

            Lisa Gardner writes in a similar style to Tess Gerritsen and Tami Hoag so if you like those authors you will probably enjoy Lisa Gardner. Her previous books include The Perfect Husband, Alone, The Survivors Club, The Third Victim and The Other Daughter.

            Lisa Gardner lives in New England with her family. She sold her first novel when she was twenty years old.

            The Neighbour is published by Orion books.
            I won't be giving away any spoilers in this review.


            *** Synopsis ***

            Sandra and Jason Jones and their cute four year old daughter, Ree seem to be just like any other family living in Boston. So why are the doors bolted and the windows sealed?
            Sandra and Jason share the care of their little daughter and work opposite shifts. Sandra is a teacher and Jason works for a newspaper. One night whilst Jason is at work, Sandra mysteriously disappears. When Jason returns home he finds Ree asleep in her bed all alone in the house.
            Detective Sergeant D.D Warren investigates but finds Jason Jones to be strangely cold and un-cooperative. Could the rich, handsome Jason be responsible for his beautiful young wife's disappearance? Or perhaps a sex-offender, Aiden Brewster, living a few doors away is to blame. What is the truth behind Sandra's relationship with 13 year old pupil Ethan who has a huge crush on her?

            Jason's cool unemotional response is unusual and it becomes clear that Jason is hiding something. What is the dark secret from his past that he is so desperate to conceal?

            D.D investigates the mysterious Jason as time ticks away in the search for his missing wife.


            *** My opinion ***

            I found this book really compelling reading and it is one of the best psychological suspense thrillers I've read for a long time. It's very fast moving and had me captivated right from the start. I was reading this book long into the night.
            The plot is strong and there are lots of twists and intrigue to keep the reader guessing.
            Most of the book is written in the 3rd person but some of it is written from the point of view of Aiden and Sandra.

            There are a few swear words and references to sex so be warned if you are likely to be shocked or offended by these.

            I'm giving this book 5 stars and I'll be looking out for Lisa Garnder's next thriller.

            Lock the doors and keep the lights on when you read this book!

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              06.04.2010 13:14
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              If you are a crime thriller reader then this is definately a book worth reading.

              I popped into WHSmiths last week and noticed that the top 50 paperback chart were on buy one get one free. Always up for a bargain I decided to get 4 books. My first 3 books were by authors that I had heard of, but unfortunately there were no other authors up there that took my fancy. I picked up this book just so I could get the BOGOF offer, but I am so glad I did!

              ~The story~
              Sandy is a young and beautiful mum and wife to 4 year old Ree, and Jason Jones. Sandy and her husband work opposite shifts so that their daughter can be cared for by them and them only. Not really surprising as most parents want to do this, but when you add to the mix that their house has all windows sealed shut, and steel-enforced doors, it makes you wonder who they are trying to keep out.

              Unfortunately the "security" they have doesn't work, and with Jason in work one night as a reporter, Sandy puts little Ree to bed, and retires to bed herself. Until she hears a noise. Someone is in her bedroom...

              Jason comes home to find Ree in bed sleeping, but Sandy missing. He doesn't report her disappearance until 3 hours later. This happens in the first few chapters of the book, and the rest of it is all about finding out why Sandy is missing, who took her and what happens to her.

              ~The characters~
              {Sandy}
              A teacher, a mum to Ree, and a beautiful wife to Jason. She disappears from her home in the middle of the night. Throughout the book, there are some chapters from Sandy's perspective, but it doesn't let on whether she's dead or alive. Sandy explains her childhood of the physical abuse she received from her alcoholic mother, who eventually killer herself, and her father who turned a blank eye to it all. She also explains about things that have happened in her marriage. These chapters are easily distinguished because they are written in italic font.

              {Ree}
              An adorable little 4 year old daughter of Sandy and Jason. She is portrayed as very "cutesy" which definitely comes across well, you almost wanted her to be real so you could pinch her cheeks granny style! She is the only possible witness in her mother's disappearance.

              {Sergeant D.D. Warren}
              The Sergeant appointed to investigate Sandy's disappearance. She is bewildered by why the house is so security-bound, and is determined to get to the bottom of not only what happened to Sandy, but why it seems like the Jones family is trying to keep something or someone from getting to them. You don't really get any feelings for D.D. as she's not the sort of character the author wants us to think about too much. To be honest, there's enough to think about already without another character to think of!

              {Jason}
              Suspect number 1. Wife of Sandy, and dad to Ree. Statistics show that when a wife disappears then it is normally the husband who is responsible. Add to this that he has a secret stash of $4 million hidden away, an identity that doesn't seem to have any trail before he married Sandy, and his D.I.Y skills on the house, makes him the number 1 suspect with D.D.

              {Aidan}
              Suspect number 2. Aidan is a sex offender who lives a few doors down from the Jones'. The book does a brilliant job in explaining sex offenders, and the fact that even though they are all put under the same category of being a "sex offender", they all have different styles. From the paedophile, to a flasher. Aidan became a sex offender because he was in a relationship with his 14 year old stepsister when he was 19. Even though I agree that what he did was wrong, the author makes you feel sorry for him. He did something wrong, went to prison, and is trying to change his life. This all comes out in the first few chapters as background information so I'm not giving the story away. Sergeant D.D. thinks that as Aidan and Sandy are the same age, and are both very beautiful people, they may have had a relationship with each other which has gone wrong.

              {Ethan}
              Suspect number 3. Sandys 13 year old pupil in school. He admits to D.D. that he is infatuated with Sandy. During free periods, Ethan has been helping Sandy with computers - trying to show her how all data is stored even when the user believes it has been deleted. Sandy found something on her home computer which can only have been done by Jason, and she is determined to get to the bottom of why he had a particular image on the computer and also what he does on the computer in the early hours of the morning when Sandy is sleeping. Ethan tries to help Sandy with this, and in his first interview with D.D. he tells her that he suspects it is the husband, and explains what Ethan and Sandy have been doing.

              {Wayne}
              Suspect number 4. Ethans uncle and a Certified Forensic Computer Examiner. Ethan asks Wayne to help him and Sandy with finding out exactly what Jason has been doing on the computer, when it becomes clear that Jason has been able to hack into the computer database and removed all aspects of what he does on it. Jason knows his way around a computer and a lack of data on the hard-drive is very suspicious. Wayne and Sandy start meeting up on a Thursday night to try and resolve the computer problems.

              {Maxwell}
              Suspect number 5. Sandy's father, grandfather to Ree and a court Judge. Sandy has always explained to Jason that she never wants her father anywhere near Ree but won't explain why. After having no contact from Sandy for 5 years, and not even knowing that he had a grand-daughter, he sees the disappearance of Sandy on the news, and turns up on Jason's doorstep to try and take Ree away. D.D is suspicious that after not searching for Sandy for the past 5 years, he has just turned up to take Ree away. She is not sure whether he is a protective father and grandfather or whether he has taken Sandy in order to gain custody of his grand-daughter and teach Sandy a lesson.

              ~My opinion~
              This book is too gripping to try and explain. From the minute I started the book I wanted to know what had happened to Sandy, and the ending couldn't have been anymore shocking. I normally find that American authors' books are predictable in who the criminal is, but this is nothing like that. I never saw the end coming, which was amazing. I will definitely be reading more of Lisa Gardner's books.

              ~Price~
              Like I said in my introduction, I got this as part of a BOGOF offer in WHSmiths, which makes books well worth buying. So if you like the sound of this book, get down there quick before the deal ends! Otherwise the books RRP is £6.99. I normally don't like spending this amount of money of one book, but after reading the book, I would have been more than happy to pay the full price, and I am willing to pay full price for other Lisa Gardner books.

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