Lisa Gardner

Alone

It’s where you’re most vulnerable … It’s where there’s no one to hear you cry for help … It’s the last place you want to be when this killer comes … ALONE Alone … Massachusetts State Trooper Bobby Dodge watches a tense hostage standoff unfold through the scope of his sniper rifle. Just across the street, in wealthy Back Bay, Boston, an armed man has barricaded himself with his wife and child. The man’s finger tightens on the trigger and Dodge has only a split second to react … and forever pay the consequences. Alone…that’s where the nightmare began for cool, beautiful, and dangerously sexy Catherine Rose Gagnon. Twenty-five years ago, she was buried underground during a month-long nightmare of abduction and abuse. Now, her husband has just been killed. Her father-in-law, the powerful Judge Gagnon, blames Catherine for his death … and for the series of unexplained illnesses that have sent her own young son repeatedly to the hospital. Alone … he survived solitary confinement in a maximum security prison where he’d done hard time for the most sadistic of crimes. Now he walks the streets a free man, invisible, anonymous… and filled with an unquenchable thirst for vengeance. What brings Bobby and Catherine together is a moment of violence – but what connects them is a passion far deeper and much more dangerous. For a killer is loose who’s woven such an intricate web of evil no one is above suspicion, no one is beyond harm, and no one will see death coming until it has them cornered, helpless, and alone.

Back to top

Reviews

Keeps readers spellbound …”- Publishers Weekly

“Like all the best suspense novels, ALONE will leave you shaken … . you can’t wait to see what happens next.” – People Magazine

“Intricate and suspenseful …” – LA Times

“Readers will enjoy this novel’s thrill-packed, roller-coaster ride …” – Boston Globe

“A twisted, effective, psychological thriller.”- Booklist

“Three-dimensional characters fill out a riveting story that is like a juicy steak, slow-broiled to perfection.” – Library Journal, starred review

“Gardner … keeps the pages turning.” – Kirukus

“A powerful psychological suspense police procedural” – Harriet Klausner, The Best Reviews

“Lisa Gardner has crafted a masterpiece of suspense, the epitome of an all-nighter. [It's] chilling and hypnotic.” – Jane Bowers, Romance Reviews Today, awarding ALONE a perfect 10

“The ending (and even the middle) of ALONE is impossible to predict. Gardner wrings every possible surprise out of the storyline, and continues to do so until practically the last page. Everyone in the book is suspect; no one is precisely who they seem to be. Impeccably plotted and superbly written, ALONE is a novel that will leave you torn between racing to finish it and lingering over its characterizations. Highly recommended.” – Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter.com

Wal-Mart picked ALONE to be the Read of the Month for January ’06.

Back to top

Discussion Questions/FAQs

In your own words, how would you describe ALONE?
So there’s a hero, Bobby Dodge, who is a designated sniper with the Massachusetts State Police. He’s called out to a domestic barricade situation, where a father is holding his wife and son at gunpoint. In the course of events, it appears the husband is about to kill his wife, so following the guidelines for proper use of deadly force, Bobby shoots the man dead. Immediately afterward, allegations surface that the husband wasn’t the threat that night-the wife was. She’s been abusing the son. The husband was only trying to save his child’s life.

That central mystery drives the rest of the novel. What was really going on that night? Who is the real threat in this family? And what does it mean to spend the rest of your life wondering if you killed the right man?
It’s a fun novel. Bobby’s one very sexy man, while the women in the book are just plain dangerous.

How did you come up with the idea for ALONE? What came to you first? Character or plot?
In the case of ALONE, I started with an idea for a character-a woman who is sympathetic but disturbing, alluring but cold, courageous but frightening. I basically concocted a series of crimes that either made this woman the unluckiest person in the world-or the most dangerous. I then came up with two plausible endings-one that convicted her, one that exonerated her. Then I started writing to see which ending would prevail. It was neat to work on a project that at any time could go either way.

What was the hardest/strangest part of researching the novel?
For the opening shooting sequence of ALONE, I felt it would be easier to have a actual house in mind. Finding the proper position for Bobby, the police sniper, involves understanding the angles, distances, and architecture of the brownstone in question. So I took my husband, who is an engineer and much better at spatial relations than me, on a tour of Back Bay, Boston . We picked out a house at random-I think we liked the detailing around the windows-and my husband sketched out the townhouse exactly as a sniper would do, analyzing each door and window, examining the neighborhood for the best perch, etc. Halfway through this, of course, the owner comes home. Here we are, across the street, sketching away. He checked on us two or three times. I’m pretty sure he thought we were casing the joint, and if I checked with the Boston PD right now, I’d find a photo of myself labeled a “person of interest.”

What makes Catherine Gagnon, the female lead of ALONE, tick?
My books are always driven by psychology. For whatever reason, I have a fascination with the past and how it shapes us. For Catherine, I was exploring a central theme-if you had a very traumatic situation in childhood, but were fortunate enough to survive it, would kind of mark would it leave? Would you be stronger from your ordeal? Or weaker? Good? Or bad? Or maybe all of the above? Then I found a novel by Dr. Lenore Terr, the famous psychologist who studied the children from the notorious Chowchilla kidnapping case in 1976, when a busload of children was hijacked and buried in a gravel pit. The kids dug themselves out within twenty-four hours, and all survived. But none were ever the same. Dr. Terr’s book examines the impact that event had on each child as he/she grew into adulthood. Some of those findings are the basis for Catherine. She survived a horrendous situation. Or did she?

Did Catherine ever do anything that surprised you?
Actually, the whole ending of the novel surprised me. I had literally plotted it to go either way. Catherine could be good, or Catherine could be evil. Then I waited to see what was right for Catherine. She definitely turned out to be more complex than I imagined.

Was it a challenge telling ALONE mostly from a male point of view?
Originally, the novel wasn’t intended to have such a strong male lead. But Bobby just sort took over the story. I love him, though. He’s one of my favorite characters ever, so it seemed very natural to let him guide the book. In fact, as often happens in my world, I’ve decided Bobby has more stories to tell. So look for his adventures to continue in ’07 [in HIDE], as he joins Boston PD Detective D.D. Warren in investigating the discovery of a mass grave that may or may not have been the handiwork of Mr. Bosu two decades before. Sometimes, old crimes lead to new victims.

Back to top

Behind the Scenes

What Lisa had to say about ALONE (aka Book Seven) prior to its publication in January 2005
November 24, 2003: Good news! I’ve actually start writing Book 7. First three pages felt like the toughest three pages I’ve ever written in my life. Apparently, if you spend your entire summer reading GOOD NIGHT MOON and watching home improvement shows, it does rot the brain. But I’m getting into the swing of things now. Have a present murder, have a past crime, have a whole cast of interesting/dangerous people. I still don’t have a book title, of course – that would be too easy – but in its own way, Book 7 is starting to grow on me. It can be the start of new series, with the next novel cleverly titled Book 8. See, there’s hope. In October, I spent some time in Boston doing research. Given that the hero of Book 7 is a police sniper, I started by interviewing some great guys who serve as law enforcement snipers. Two were with the FBI and three were with state police agencies. One of the most interesting things I learned was the importance of the cold bore shot. First shot of the day is your cold bore shot; it’s the slug that travels from the unheated chamber of the gun down the unheated barrel. That shot warms the gun, so every other bullet fired has slightly different ballistics. For a sniper, the assumption is that they will only ever fire one shot – the cold bore shot. Thus, instead of going to a firing range and simply unloading a rifle – which was my assumption – snipers train one shot at a time. Setting it up, calculating the ballistics, and then taking that single cold-bore shot. It’s about discipline, concentration and intense focus. It’s also about really good aim. Police snipers target a one-inch triangle known as the kill zone. Basically, it’s the space right between a person’s eyes. The goal is to “immediately incapacitate”the suspect. That’s a diplomatic way of saying police snipers shoot to kill. Given that the suspect may be holding a gun to someone’s head, law enforcement officers can’t afford to wound or maim. No, if a sniper is called upon to take that shot, his goal is to severe a suspect’s brain stem. We’re talking some very serious shooting. After meeting with several officers, my husband and I conducted a walking tour of Boston. We picked a house at random to serve as a model for the opening shooting sequence of the novel. I took lots of pictures, while my husband provided an engineer’s eye for details. Halfway through our little project, the homeowner returned and spotted us. I’m pretty sure some guy in Boston now thinks I’m casing his home. If only he really knew. By the end of our time in Boston, the book had really come together in my mind. I can see where it’s going to happen. I know what is going to happen. I’m up to speed on S.W.A.T. team protocol, sniper training, and post-critical incident processes for both the Massachusetts State Police and the Suffolk County D.A. I even had an old friend walk me through all the ways you can use the law to destroy a man. It was a fascinating discussion. Next up – actually writing the novel. Not talking about it, not researching it, not reading about it, but actually writing it. Now this is where life gets tricky.

Back to top

Extras

Back to top

Details

Bantam Dell
Hardcover January 11, 2005
Paperback December 27, 2005
Cover Art © 2004 Yook Louie

Back to top

Switch to our mobile site