The Third Victim
Lisa Gardner / Author Bantam Books $7.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-553
In her new thriller (following The Other Daughter), Gardner deftly probes the psychology of school shootings while developing a cast of complex, compelling characters. Rainie Conner initially joined the small-town police force in Bakersville, Ore., to escape the ghosts of her past. When she responds to a call from the local school and discovers students screaming, bodies lying inert in the rooms and one young boy holding two guns, however, Rainie find herself leading a controversial investigation and struggling to contain her childhood memories. The fact that the boy is the son of the town sheriff, Rainie's superior and friend, only intensifies the pressure Rainie endures from members of the community, the FBI and the media. Although she tries desperately to do her work amid the growing criticism, Rainie begins to question her own fragile psychological stability. Fortunately, she finds solace in the arrival of the gentlemanly Pierce Quincy, an FBI profiler with a sharp mind and a soft shoulder. The duo eventually reach the conclusion that someone else must be responsible for the massacre, someone who may have recruited the boy to do the shootings. A suspenseful, curl-up winter read, this thriller teems with crisp, realistic dialogue and engaging characters. (Feb.) Forecast: Even though Gardner has only three titles under her belt, her adept use of language and her strong characterizations will ensure her a broad, loyal following. Readers won't be disappointed to learn that Special Agent Pierce Quincy will reappear in her next offering, which is still untitled.
Reviewed on: 01/29/2001