RIGHT BEHIND YOU by Lisa Gardner
Lisa Gardner has been in the business of writing mysteries for quite some time now. It is amazing how she is able to create new and unique situations, but she does it time and time again. She has also become even better at creating characters who enter your consciousness and stay there long after the story has been completed. In her latest novel RIGHT BEHIND YOU she is as inventive as she has ever been and the characters are some of her best creations.
Sharlah Nash is the thirteen year old at the center of the story. She lives with her foster parents, Quincy and Rainie who are two former federal agents. Sharlah has endured much in her young life. When she was five both of her parents were killed, which resulted in her and her brother Telly being placed in foster care. She has not seen her brother since the day of their parents’ deaths.
Telly now lives with his foster parents Frank and Sandra. He seems to be adjusting well to life with them, but then things go horribly wrong. Events occur that place him in the spotlight of a manhunt for a murderer, which also places Sharlah’s life in danger. The woes that befall these two youngsters make for Gardner’s most engrossing story yet.
This book carefully examines the effects of physical and mental abuses upon children. We see how both Sharlah and Telly draw into themselves and have horrible difficulty in being able to open up to the most overt acts of love and kindness. We also are privy to the emotional bond that exists between siblings even after years of separation. At nine Telly was Sharlah’s most ardent protector; at seventeen he may have been driven by circumstances to be her most powerful enemy.
This plot and all of the main characters are so strong I hesitate to mention any flaws in the book. However I feel I must point out the story is overwritten in the extreme. There is a direct line from point A to point B but to get there you have to go through a forest of restatements of past events. The reader learns over and over how hard it is for Sharlah to feel or express love for her foster parents. And the feelings that arose after the death of her parents are described again and again. At least it feels that way.
There is a beautiful tale of suspense in the pages of this book. The characters come into your heart immediately. Then you worry about how things are going to turn out for them. It is all done in a polished and somehow personal way, EXCEPT!
Lisa Gardner is a major talent in her field of writing mysteries. I look forward to her next book and the one after that. Still I hope she will learn that every book doesn’t have to be over three hundred pages in length. Sometimes, Lisa, less is more.
RIGHT BEHIND YOU is published by Dutton. It contains 400 pages and sells for $27.00.
Jackie K Cooper