The Other Daughter
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Winner of the 1999 Reviewer’s Choice Award
Winner of the 2000 Daphne Du Maurier Award for Suspense
WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN KILL YOU
In Texas a serial killer is executed, taking to his grave the identity of his only child. In Boston a nine-year-old girl is abandoned in a hospital, then adopted by a wealthy young couple. Twenty years later, Melanie Stokes still considers herself lucky. Until …
Melanie had lost all memory of her life before the adoption, and now someone wants to give it back. Even if it includes the darkest nightmare the Stokes family ever faced: the murder of their first daughter in Texas. As Melanie pursues every lead, chases every shadow in the search for her real identity, two seemingly unrelated events from twenty years ago will come together in a dangerous explosion of truth. And with her very life at stake, Melanie will fear that the family she loves the most may be the people she should trust the least.
“Sheer terror … A great read” – The Book List
“In her newest, Gardner (THE PERFECT HUSBAND) indulges her fascination with the dark side of family life, where the ties that bind also gag, choke and strangle. Once again, Gardner serves up suspense at a furious pace. – Publishers Weekly
“I predict readers will find THE OTHER DAUGHTER very hard to forget.” – The Romance Reader
What was the inspiration for THE OTHER DAUGHTER?
I got the idea from Ann Rule’s book, THE STRANGER BESIDE ME about the life of Ted Bundy. Bundy married and fathered a child while on death row, in addition to having many “normal” relationships throughout the course of his life. I simply wondered what it would be like to grow up knowing your father was one of the most notorious serial killers in America. You have to wonder, are killers born or made?
Plus, I’d been doing a lot of reading on healthcare fraud, which gave me the idea for the plot. My editor added the condition that lots of people must die. New York editors are a bloodthirsty lot.
In the acknowledgments you mention that your brother has arthritis. Is that why you gave the hero, David Riggs, the disease?
Yes, my brother was diagnosed with AS when he was 18 or so. Watching him come to terms with the disease inspired me to make it part of David’s story. Actually, now my mother has also been diagnosed with AS, so the story continues.
Do you include anything from your life in the book?
I was living in Boston at the time, so I used that setting. Otherwise, having never been adopted into a life of wealth and privilege, I couldn’t contribute much to the heroine’s story. I’m thinking… No, I really can’t think of anything in that novel that came from me. Apparently, my family’s lives are much more interesting.
What was the most fun you had writing that novel?
Actually, I tried some “real-time” research with THE OTHER DAUGHTER. Halfway through the novel, Melanie runs away to Texas without any preparation or planning. To get the full experience, I decided to do the same. So I impulsively hopped on a plane and headed to Houston. It was really lots of fun. Between the dozen car rental agencies it’s not difficult to get an automobile, and it was easy enough to buy maps at the airport and get directions from the information desk. Also, you don’t exactly need advance reservations for most of the hotel chains. You know, just in case you ever need hit the road on a moment’s notice…
Paperback July 6, 1999
Cover Art © 1999 Alan Ayers