Lisa Gardner

Love You More


The crime appears open-and-shut: Pushed to the brink by an abusive husband, state police trooper Tessa Leoni finally snapped and shot him in self-defense. But Tessa isn’t talking–not about her dead husband, her battered face, or her missing six-year old daughter. Now, Detective D.D. Warren will have to race against the clock to unearth family secrets, solve a murder and save a child.

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“Tough-gal detective D.D. Warren (Live To Tell) is grappling with her own personal issues when she is assigned to a case that makes her life seem easy. State trooper Tessa Leoni overcame a difficult childhood and alcoholism to become a loving single mom to her daughter, Sophie, and a respected police officer. After three years of marriage to merchant mariner Brian, everything seems to be going great, despite his erratic work schedule. So why is D.D. called to a crime scene where Brian’s been murdered, Tessa’s nearly beaten to death, and Sophie’s missing? Things get even more interesting when Tessa confesses to the murder but has no idea where her daughter is. D.D. knows that Tessa’s spinning a web of lies, but getting to the truth will take quite a bit of work. VERDICT Gardner’s characters are fully drawn (this reviewer was not even aware that Warren is a series character), and her taut storytelling and dizzying plot will appeal to fans of Harlan Coben.” Starred Review - Library Journal – Rebecca Vnuk, Forest Park, IL

“Detective D. D. Warren of the Boston police and Massachusetts state trooper Bobby Dodge are together again, this time not as lovers but as partners in the investigation of a state trooper who shot and killed her husband. Tessa Leoni’s bruised face leads to speculation that she retaliated when her husband hit her. But there’s a lot that doesn’t fit the model, not the least of which is the disappearance of the couple’s six-year old daughter, Sophie. Could Tessa, by all accounts an exemplary officer and an exceptionally devoted mother, have shot her husband three times in the chest and then killed her own child? If so, where is Sophie’s body? Just when D. D. thinks she has it all figured out, a curious new piece of the puzzle emerges. Gardner deftly entwines the stories of the two women officers—one, newly pregnant, charged with solving a strange case; the other a mother who, as it turns out, would do anything to protect her child. Having already produced a dozen successful thrillers, Gardner proves herself not only a very clever storyteller here, capable of pulling together a complicated series of events, but also a writer able to invest her characters (particularly her female ones) with emotional substance. Compelling and unexpected, this tale of mystery and maternal devotion shows Gardner at her very best.” – Stephanie Zvirin– Booklist – Starred Review

“Near the start of Thriller Award–winner Gardner’s gripping fifth novel featuring Boston PD Sgt. Det. D.D. Warren (after Live to Tell), D.D.’s former partner and one-time lover, Det. Bobby Dodge, of the Massachusetts State Police, asks her to look into what appears to be a clear-cut homicide case. The evidence suggests that Tessa Leoni, a state trooper colleague of Bobby’s, shot and killed her abusive husband, Brian Darby, who may have kidnapped her six-year-old daughter, Sophie. But Tessa won’t talk about her bruises, her husband, or what might have happened to her child. D.D. examines every detail about the family, while Tessa uses her skills to manipulate the investigation. From Tessa’s point of view, we learn about her and Brian’s courtship, his affection for Sophie, and how the marriage began to disintegrate. Gardner sprinkles plenty of clues and inventive twists to keep readers off-kilter as the suspense builds to a realistic, jaw-dropping finale.” – Publishers Weekly

“Gardner hits an impressive new high with her latest taut thriller, a three-way chess game — with the life of a 6-year-old girl at stake. Unbelievably gripping and clever, you won’t want to put it down until the final page!” — Jill M. Smith, Romantic Times 4-1/2 Gold Stars

“In her fifth case (Live to Tell, 2010, etc.), Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren takes on one tough mother. Tessa Leoni is smart, brave, resourceful and quirky, among other character traits that bring to mind, yes, D.D. Warren, who might well be her mirror image… You won’t often find two such sympathetic protagonists paired, refreshingly, as antagonists” – Kirkus Review

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Discussion Questions/FAQs

How do you come up with the story for Love You More?

Most of my books are ripped from the headlines. Love You More was inspired by a case in Florida where a mother is currently accused of murdering her four-year old daughter. As a parent, you can’t help thinking, how could a mother do such a thing? I started researching the crime, but also considering what means to be a parent. The end result is a novel that may have started with a very tragic case, but is itself a tribute to parental love. Most of us would go to the ends of the earth for our kids, and if you’re a state trooper like Tessa Leoni, professionally trained in firearms, all the better to get the job done!

Love You More brings back the wonderful and tough detective DD Warren. What can you tell us about her?

I think Love You More is a great book for D.D. as it shows her taking a fundamental step forward in her life. For years she’s been single-minded in her focus: work, work, work. But in the opening pages of Love You More she’s facing a major personal crisis and realizing that she’s going to have to change. She’s always been tough; now, she must learn to be more human.

In this book, D.D. Warren also reunites with her former lover Bobby. How have the dynamics of their relationship shifted through the series?

I think D.D. defines their relationship the best when she describes Bobby as the man she gave up, but never got over. Of course, now Bobby is married and D.D. has a new man in her life, criminologist Alex Wilson. And yet, has Bobby and D.D.’s relationship truly run its course? I’ll let readers be the judge!

Love You More also features Massachusetts State Police Trooper Tessa Leoni, who is accused of shooting her husband. What was your first impression of Tessa Leoni?

Alone. She is a woman very much alone. And she’s tough, and she’s secretive and she’s clever. But mostly, she’s mother and a wife and uniformed officer who is isolated in the middle of a very dangerous game where one wrong move could cost her everything.

Investigating a fellow officer puts D.D. Warren up against the “blue wall” of police silence, as Tessa’s co-workers are reluctant to sharing information about her. What was it like for D.D. to become an outsider to this police community?

I loved putting D.D. on the other side of the blue wall. She’s such a cop. She lives, eats, breathes her job. So to make her an outsider of the very organization that defines her amused me to no end. Challenge builds character, and particularly with a series character, you never want their life to be boring!

Is that your secret to making your characters so life-like, constant challenges?

As a writer, you certainly want to use conflict to build characters. I can’t say I have any hard and fast rules for character development, however. I like characters who are flawed, who are good people capable of doing bad things and bad people with moments of goodness. I think that’s truer to real life and makes for more compelling and empathetic character development.

Why Boston for the location of your series?

Boston has a long and lurid history of crime. Perfect for an overachieving homicide detective! Boston is also a collection of unique and distinctive neighborhoods. Perfect for an easily bored suspense novelist. Between fresh crimes and fresh locations, D.D. and I are always ready for the next book!

Given that you write about so many different “professions” ie state troopers, nurses etc, tell us how you go about researching your books?

Unlike other suspense authors, I don’t have any background or connections in law enforcement. So from day one, I’ve relied on cold-calling organizations.Hey, I’m a local author, can I come tour your jail so I can better plan a prison break scene? You’d be amazed how many times they say yes! Research is my favourite part. Writing is actually pretty boring—you sit and type. Nurses, troopers, medical examiners, now here are people who have cool jobs.

What was your favourite research for Love You More?

Visiting the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to research there, and I loved every minute. I got to walk Death’s Acre, in addition to studying the skeleton collection and learning how to disinter buried remains. I came to the Body Farm with a central question: how to disguise bones so that even once they were discovered, they would be difficult to identify. I had assumed the answer would be to burn the body, but after watching the forensic anthropologist effortlessly identify gender, age, and some medical conditions on a single cremated bone, I realized that wasn’t the case! Don’t worry, I came up with an excellent solution, and when you get to that scene in the novel, I hope it really, really freaks you out.

I also spent quality time in a Boston jail and played with search and recovery dogs. All in a day’s work.

What are you working on next?

Detective D.D. Warren returns! This time she’s investigating a vigilante killer who is murdering sex offenders in the city of Boston. Complicating matters—the appearance of a girl claiming she will be murdered in four days and she’d like D.D. to handle the investigation. Finally, the baby must be picked up from daycare at five, and D.D. must (gasp!) deal with her own parents. The book is tentatively titled Catch Me, and will be available from Dutton Books in spring 2012.

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Interview: Boston Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren from Love You More

LISA: D.D.–What do you find most frustrating about my sniper hero, Bobby Dodge? Most fascinating?
Bobby’s a good detective. He’s smart, speaks only when he has something important to say and has always been a loyal friend. So that’s the good news. In the deeply frustrating department… Have I mentioned Catherine Gagnon yet? Or hey, our latest and most dangerous husband-killer, Massachusetts State Trooper Tessa Leoni. I think once a woman has plugged a man with three bullets to the chest, other guys should take the hint. But Bobby… That boy has a serious weakness for with damsels in distress.

LG: What’s on your nightstand? What’s in the drawer?
Latest edition of the FBI Law Enforcement magazine is on my nightstand. In the drawer, emergency stash of chocolate, couple of condoms (didn’t work), leading to most recent purchase: What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Tell anyone, and they will never find your body. Seriously.

LG: When did you know you were going to have your own novel?
First time I walked on scene in Alone. Please, I’m five times tougher than fellow detective Bobby Dodge and twenty times smarter. Plus, I look damn good in Jimmy Choos. Let’s see the former sniper do my job in my shoes, then we’ll talk.

LG: Favorite food?
It’s all good. Well, at least it was until 6 weeks ago. Now I’m limited to saltines and bottled water. Can I just say, this is no way to live, let alone work a fast-breaking missing persons case?

LG: What is the thing you love most about being a Boston P.D. Sergeant?
Being in charge, calling on the shots, being the boss. Did I mention being in charge?

LG: What’s the most difficult case you’ve ever had to handle? Why?
Tessa Leoni. Hard enough being a city detective investigating a state trooper for murder, without being a female city detective investigating a female state trooper. Bobby thinks I’m biased—that just because Tessa’s young and beautiful, I don’t like her. Not true. I don’t care about the vulnerable pretty vibe she has going on. I care about the fact that she’s a highly manipulative compulsive liar who shot her husband three times, and now claims she doesn’t know what happened to her six year old daughter. For someone who claims to love her own kid so much, why isn’t she doing more to help us find her?

LG: Can you ever see yourself partnering successfully with another cop? Or are you the quintessential lone wolf?
Excuse me, I love my squad and my squad loves me. Neil is one of the finest detectives around, plus better him than me viewing all the autopsies. And Phil—hey, family man, great wife, four kids, works in homicide to escape the gore. Gotta love Phil. They have my back and I have theirs. Life is good.

LG: You drive that butch police car all day. What’s your idea of a dream ride?
Walking on a beach. No car, no pager, no shoes. Just me, the wind, the waves and the cry of the gulls. I’d probably go nuts within five minutes, but wouldn’t it be nice to give peace a chance.

LG: I’m a woman traveling alone, staying in a hotel. What are your top three tips to keep me safe from psychos?
Bolt all locks anytime you’re in the room
Hang the Do Not Disturb Sign outside anytime you’re in the room
Try to avoid staying in rooms closest to the elevators and/or stairs—these rooms are more frequently targeted by thieves as the location allows for quick getaways.

LG: Do you have any scars?
Maybe, but you should see the other guy. Give as good as you get, that’s always been my motto.

LG: What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a pair of shoes? Describe!
Silver sequined Jimmy Choos, on sale $500. Tell my squad, they will never find your body. Seriously. But they’re really pretty and when I wear them, I don’t look like a cop, walk like a cop, or think like a cop. How does that commercial go… Oh yeah, priceless.

LG: If you had to: dog or cat?
Oh my God, I’m doomed aren’t I? First baby, next comes the family dog. Probably wind up with some adorably cute little chocolate lab giant floppy ears and sharp point teeth that will shred all my shoes. I am doomed!

LG: Tell me something I don’t know about you.
I’m addicted to Glee. I am not a Gleek! Wouldn’t go that far, yet. But yeah, the cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester makes me laugh. Sometimes uncomfortably. Just because I looked up the protein shakes she’s always downing doesn’t mean I identify. I mean, she is the villain. But why, I ask you? Because she’s driven, tough, ambitious, successful and pragmatic? When did that become the recipe for evil? Maybe others tune in week after week for the music, but personally, I’m waiting for Sue Sylvester to win. Remember, blondes have more fun!

LG: Worst crime scene?
The mummified remains of six girls on the grounds of the abandoned mental institute in Mattapan. Never saw anything like it, never want to again. Funny, that was Bobby’s first case as a detective (Hide)—got him a wife, and now a baby girl. But he never talks about it, and neither do I. Sometimes, finding justice for the victims isn’t enough, but it’s all we got. So a good detective walls it up, puts a Do Not Disturb Sign on that section of memory and walks away. Gotta in this job, or you’ll go mad.

LG: What do you wish you knew five years ago?
Can a working woman have it all? Five years ago, I sweated my job. I worried I wasn’t working smart enough, closing cases fast enough. Now, I sweat my entire life. Am I working too hard? Does an obsessed female detective really have a shot at love? And what the hell am I gonna do with a kid? I mean, I’d like one. They look good on other people. But now there’s work and Alex and baby. I wish I’d realized five years ago, how good I had it. That only focusing on my career, was a luxury I’d never have again. Spoken like a true workaholic, huh?

Why My Dogs Are Better Book Dogs Than Search Dogs
By Lisa Gardner

I love my dogs. For the past twelve-years, I’ve been blessed with two Shetland sheepdogs, a bi-black male named Murphy and a blue merle female named Sierra. I will be the first to say they are instrumental to my writing process. There’s no book problem to date a long walk, adoring gaze or quick tail wag can’t fix.

No doubt about it, dogs are good for writers.

Now, my dogs are smart. They’re working dogs, meant to herd sheep (or small children, whichever comes first). Like most shelties, they’re active, family-friendly, and extremely talented. Then, I learned about Search and Recovery canines for my latest novel, Love You More (March 8 Bantam Books)Now here are some dogs that are accomplished, athletic and altruistic. It was enough to make me wonder if maybe I could teach my (admittedly older dogs) some new tricks.

Things went not quite the way I planned.

1. Search and Recovery dogs can be trained to find humans in return for reward; my dogs can be trained to find…Cheerios…in return for…Cheerios.
Remember all those movie scenes, where the handler holds up handkerchief for the search dog to scent, then releases the hound? My first lesson about SAR dogs: No. The team I interviewed with doesn’t train their dogs to find Jane Doe’s scent. They train their dogs to find human scent. Period. Dogs are brought out, revved up and then released to play their favorite game—find the human! By definition, the dog handlers must work downwind of their canines, and the search area must be devoid of other volunteers, or the dogs will return with the county deputy instead of finding Jimmy in the well.

Walking Death’s Acre by Lisa Gardner

True confession time: for a woman who makes her living writing extremely diabolical suspense novels, I have no stomach for gore. Scary movies? Can’t watch them. Most of the crime shows on prime time? Egads, no way! Haunted houses? My husband has had to carry me out. It’s embarrassing but true.

So when I first received the invitation to conduct research at the famed Body Farm at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, I didn’t know what to do with myself. As a forensics aficionado and thriller author, I just had to visit. A chance to learn first-hand how to search for buried remains? Or how to establish time of death for skeletal remains? Or the amount of forensic evidence that can still be retrieved from cremated bones? Sign me up!

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Bantam Dell
Hardcover March 8, 2011
Paperback February 28, 2012
Cover Art © 2011

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