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LOVE YOU MORE by Lisa Gardner: Book Review

Tessa Leoni is a woman who appears to have a good life. She has a fulfilling job as a Massachusetts state trooper, a husband, and a six-year-old daughter.  But her life wasn’t always so smooth, her past and present are colliding, and the results aren’t pretty.

Love You More has two voices.  This is the first book I’m reviewing having listened to it on cd rather than having read it.  The first voice is that of Tessa, the state trooper, and it is a soft, delicate voice.  The second is that of D. D. Warren, a detective in the Boston police department.  Her voice is louder, tougher.  It’s interesting that not until I had a copy of the book in my hands and read the jacket did I realize that the detective is D. D. Warren rather than the Dee Dee I had thought she was.  Psychologically that seems to make a difference, at least to me.

The book opens with a prologue told in Tessa’s voice.  She’s being asked to choose between her daughter and her husband–whom does she love more?

D. D. Warren enters the picture when she gets a call from her friend and former lover Bobby Dodge, also a state trooper like Tessa.  There’s been an incident–a man dead on a kitchen floor in Boston, a missing child, and both belong to trooper Tessa Leoni.

When the police and troopers arrive at Tessa’s house, the body of her husband, Brian, is on the floor, dead with three shots to his torso. Sophie, Tessa’s daughter, is nowhere to be found.  Tessa’s face is a mass of bruises–shattered cheekbone, black eye, bloody lip.  D. D. and Bobby have a lot of questions, most of which Tessa isn’t answering.  If, as Tessa claims, she had just returned from her overnight shift and come home to find her daughter missing, why hadn’t she used the taser on her state-issued gunbelt to protect herself instead of shooting her husband?  And, if  she’s so concerned about her missing daughter, why did she call her union representative and the union’s lawyer before calling the police?

The past plays a vital role in Love You More. Tessa is very much alone.  She had a brother who died as an infant, and that event destroyed her family.  Her mother went into a deep depression, her father became an alcoholic, and Tessa was left to fend for herself.  Her only friend, Juliana, became her lifeline.  But even that friendship died, and the reason for it is a vital part of the novel.

Tessa is arrested for the murder of her husband.  But meanwhile the search for Sophie Leoni continues, with no leads.  Why is Tessa so reluctant to help the police in their search for her daughter?  Why is she so secretive about her background?  Why does she appear to have no family or friend to turn to in this crisis?

This is the first book I’ve read/listened to by Lisa Gardner, although she has written more than a dozen, including several previous ones in the D. D. Warren series.  Although, as always, I wish I had started the series from the beginning, there is enough background information to get a good sense of D. D. and her outlook on life.

I don’t know if I can properly call a book on cd a “page turner,” but I definitely was reluctant to get out of my car at the end of each trip; the novel is a spellbinder.

As I write this review I’m listening to another book about Detective Warren, this one set before Love You More, so I’ve obviously found another series to enjoy.

You can read more about Lisa Gardner at her web site.