Friday, July 10, 2009

Review – “The Neighbor” by Lisa Gardner

From a master of suspense comes a chilling new novel that explores the dangers lurking closer than you think. Because even in the perfect family, you never know what is going on behind closed doors….
This is what happened…
It was a case guaranteed to spark a media feeding frenzy—a young mother, blond and pretty, disappears without a trace from her South Boston home, leaving behind her four-year-old daughter as the only witness and her handsome, secretive husband as the prime suspect.
In the last six hours…
But from the moment Detective Sergeant D. D. Warren arrives at the Joneses’ snug little bungalow, she senses something off about the picture of wholesome normality the couple worked so hard to create. On the surface, Jason and Sandra Jones are like any other hardworking young couple raising a four-year-old child. But it is just under the surface that things grew murky.
Of the world as I knew it….
With the clock ticking on the life of a missing woman and the media firestorm building, Jason Jones seems more intent on destroying evidence and isolating his daughter than on searching for his “beloved” wife. Is the perfect husband trying to hide his guilt—or just trying to hide? And will the only witness to the crime be the killer’s next victim?
The Neighbor is a taut psychological suspense novel from Lisa Gardner. She has written over twenty plus novels – crime, mystery and suspense as Lisa Gardner and romance as Alicia Scott. In this latest thriller, Sandra a 23 year old school teacher disappears from her quiet suburban Boston home in the middle of the night leaving behind her 4 year old daughter Ree. Her husband, a local reporter that works night shift, returns home to find her missing with a broken lamp as the only clue that something is amiss. Hours later he calls the police.

D.D. Warren and her partner Miller work the case. Of course the husband becomes the primary ‘person of interest’. The Neighbor is presented to us from four character points of view. This includes Jason Jones, father, suspect and a man with a secretive past. We follow the nightmare that his life becomes in the center of a major criminal investigation. Sandra’s portion of the tale is told in flashback style as she parcels out details of the events behind her disappearance. Her narrative is suitably ambiguous, her past equally secretive and doesn’t reveal if she is alive or dead in the present. Sergeant Warren provides the police procedural perspective, the theories and suspicions as she conducts the probe. And we have Aidan Brewster, a registered sex-offender living in the neighborhood who becomes another person of interest.

The contrast between what the characters reveal (and the reader knows) and what the investigators learn and theorize are often wildly at odds with one another further enhancing the suspense. The research and attention to detail for the police and forensic procedures are well executed and add additional depth and perspective. The portrayal of the media frenzy is delightfully handled and is an object lesson that being the subject of an investigation, guilty or innocent is a no-win situation. The conclusion delivers plenty of surprises and left me quite satisfied with how everything turned out.

I found The Neighbor a gripping tale, the plotting masterful and the characters deliciously complex. The structure of the book maintained a state of tension that oozed from every page demanding the answer to the question who committed this crime against Sandra? If you have a taste for something darkly suspenseful, The Neighbor is an excellent choice.

Official Lisa Gardner Website

Bantam Books
Published: June 2009
ISBN #: 9780553807233
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 373

Read an excerpt of Chapter 1.

Read a behind the scenes essay on writing The Neighbour.

Partial Bibliography:

  • The Neighbor (2009)
  • Say Goodbye (2008)
  • Hide (2007)
  • Gone (2006)
  • Alone (2005)
  • I'd Kill For That (2004), contributing author
  • The Killing Hour (2003)
  • The Survivors Club (2002)
  • The Next Accident (2001)
  • The Third Victim (2001)
  • The Other Daughter (1999)
  • The Perfect Husband (1998)


  1. I have never read Gardner but many friends recommended her to me. This sounds really interesting; a little dark, a big mystery, it sounds like my kind of thing!

  2. Doug,

    Great review. I have several of Ms.Gardner's books on my tbr shelf. :) They are always good reads.


  3. This sounds like the perfect mystery for me. Thank you for an in-depth review.

  4. infiniteshelf this was my first Gardner story as well. Very polished and suspenseful.

    Michelle I suspect I would like most anything she has written.


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