cover image When You See Me

When You See Me

Lisa Gardner. Dutton, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-1-524-74500-4

At the start of this gritty, character-driven standalone from bestseller Gardner (Never Tell), a hiker stumbles across a human femur in the mountains of Niche, Ga. As soon as the remains are identified as those of 17-year-old Lilah Abenito, kidnapped 15 years before and long suspected to have been one of the earliest victims of now-deceased serial predator Jacob Ness, a special task force forms in hope of solving other cold cases linked to him. Led by FBI agent Kimberly Quincy (a regular in a Gardner series), the team includes someone with intimate Ness intel—survivor Flora Dane, as well as her Boston PD friend, Sgt. D.D. Warren (the lead in another Gardner series). Meanwhile, in Niche, the unanticipated heat from the investigation seems to be sparking sloppy mistakes—as well as offering a glimmer of hope to a mute teenage maid known only as Girl, who has crucial information. Though the conspiracy-powered plot eventually balloons well beyond believability and a romantic detour involving Flora distracts, Gardner melds her distinctive protagonists’ stories into an emotionally powerful page-turner. Fans of kick-ass female investigators will be well satisfied. [em]Author tour. Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Jan.) [/em]