INTERVIEW WITH LISA GARDNER

Never Tell (D.D. Warren and Flora Dane Novel Book 10)

Lisa Gardner

Dutton Pub.

Feb 19th, 2019

Never Tell by Lisa Gardner brings back some of her well-known characters. Detective D. D. Warren and CI Flora Dane must work together to find the truth behind a murder. It powerfully examines how someone’s past can come back to haunt them, especially when the police appear to have tunnel vision.

The book opens with a pregnant wife, Evelyn “Evie” Carter, returning home to find her husband murdered.  What she does next becomes very puzzling to the police:  She empties the gun bullets into the computer.  As the police rush in she is caught with the gun, leading the detectives, including, Warren, to think it is an open and shut case. Reinforced by the knowledge that Evie previously confessed to accidentally killing her father, the detective sees a pattern.

Once the news of the husband Conrad’s murder goes public, kidnapping survivor-turned-vigilante and D.D.’s unofficial informant, Flora Dane, asserts that she recognizes Conrad as a man who was acquainted with her kidnapper, Jacob Ness. Flora has survived the emotional and physical abuse Ness inflicted on her and is now determined to find the truth behind different crime scenes. Feeling the police are jumping to conclusions, Flora goes rogue, and hooks up with computer crime analyst Keith Edgar and FBI Agent Kimberly Quincy, who previously tracked down Ness and freed Flora. Believing Conrad is tied to the serial killer Ness, she convinces the FBI and police to recognize that with this case nothing is as it seems to be.  The many lies and secrets need to be deciphered before justice can be found.

This is a story that will resonate with readers because of all the exciting elements. It also has a unique storyline that will force readers to change their minds about the likeability of the three female protagonists.

Elise Cooper:  How did you get the idea for the story?

Lisa Gardner:  Like many of my novels, it started with a real-world case.  In my spare time, I read a lot of true crime because I am fascinated with the root of evil.  I came across a recent case of a female serial killer.  After being denied tenure at a university she opened fire.  This quiet, bookish woman who was married with two children killed many people.  Coincidentally, as a teenager living in Massachusetts she accidentally shot and killed her older brother.

EC:  What was your thought process in writing this story?

LG:  I had all these questions: why would this quiet woman go off the deep end; was there a clue missing, was the first killing really an accident? The suspense novelist in me answered these questions; yet, the real world never came up with conclusions.

EC:  The Super Bowl just passed and you made a reference to it in your book?

LG:  You must be referring to the scene where Evie says, “Sunday is football. Go Patriots.” I was very happy after New England won.  Julian Edelman is my favorite, so it was very exciting when he got MVP.  It was a great night to be in New England.  Before the game I and a bunch of my family who live in SoCal were trash talking each other all day.  It was a fun day.

EC:  How would you describe D.D?

LG: She is a workaholic, possibly to the point of obsession.  She doesn’t care if she is liked.  I think having a child has softened her edges.  Now she questions if she works too much.  I think many readers like that she is unapologetically brash, abrupt, and often rude, with a take no prisoners attitude.

EC:  It seemed she had tunnel vision and wants to get Evie more than to get at the truth?

LG:  In the beginning she had baggage, since she worked on a case sixteen years ago where Evie was accused of killing her father.  Now she is afraid, after the killing of Evie’s husband, that Evie previously pulled one over on her.  I think early on she did have tunnel vision in going after Evie. 

EC:  How would you describe Evie?

LG:  She is sleep-walking through life, and refers to herself as a “dead woman walking.” She has not dealt with her father’s death, her marriage problems, and her poor relationship with her mother.  She has avoided and hidden from real life since her adulthood is built on a pretty big lie. By definition she cannot trust.  But now, because of what happened to her husband, she has to stop running.

EC:  How would you describe Flora?

LG:  Very different from Evie.  She is one of my favorite characters.  She is a survivor who struggles with guilt.  Having PTSD has manifested itself in her by making her more hypervigilant.  I think she is a manic who has anxiety and copes by going to extremes.  Flora is obsessed with self-defense.  I think she realizes she has not healed and that she is in active recovery mode.

EC: The significance of Jacob?

LG:  The relevance of Jacob is that he is the single most powerful relationship Flora ever had.  DD says in the book that any investigation of Jacob will have Flora forever follow. Wherever Flora goes so goes the ghost of Jacob.  There is not one without the other.  Flora learned to survive by recognizing a loneliness in Jacob and becoming his confidant, his friend. Conversely, this is what she has a hard time reconciling and coming to terms with.  The appeal of her story is her determination to find the light and not see herself always as a victim, but as a survivor.

EC:  How would you describe Jacob?

LG:  He is a monster who never repented, but feels victimized because of it.  Jacob is whiny, lonely, not empathetic, downright cruel, and obsessed with being all powerful.  He sees himself victimized by society. 

EC:  Is the dog Kiko based on your dog?

LG:  No, even though I have three dogs.  She is based on a real-life rescue dog.  I put her in the novel to honor the Humane Society where I am very active.  She is a mutt, part Dalmatian, with high energy.  As in real life, she has the ability to get into a lot of trouble.

EC:  Next book?

LG: In the next book, all the characters will go to Atlanta where they will investigate the body of a woman found dead.  She was possibly killed by Jacob years ago. Maybe in a future book I will explore more of Jacob’s background. 

THANK YOU!!