“Fear Nothing,” the seventh novel in the D.D. Warren series, may be her best psychological thriller yet. I am a huge fan of Lisa Gardner, but I was hesitant to read this latest work since I had heard that it was “gory.” Actually, it wasn’t bad and I thought she described the “gore” in the crime scenes with the appropriate realism.

Two main characters dominate the novel, Detective D.D. Warren and her pain-management therapist, Dr. Adeline Glen. Dr. Glen is a fascinating character, and much of the novel is told from her point of view and third person for D.D.’s chapters.

D.D. Warren has gone back to a house to revisit a particularly gruesome crime scene where the victim, a young woman, has been skinned alive. The killer left a rose and champagne at the scene. D.D. hears a sound and realizes that she is not alone. That is about the last thing she can remember from that night. D.D. suffers a painful and serious shoulder injury, an avulsion fracture, from a fall (or push?) down the stairs and discharges her gun three times.

Six weeks later, another young woman is murdered. This victim was also skinned alive and the killer left a rose and champagne, just as at the previous murder scene. The police dub the murderer the “Rose Killer.”

Pain, anger and frustration overwhelm D.D. She must rely on her husband, Alex, to help with even simple tasks such as showering, dressing and so many things she would normally do. She can’t even hold their young son. Technically, she is on disability from the Boston Police Department, but that doesn’t keep D.D from investigating the crimes, although the department requires her to see a renowned pain-management specialist, Dr. Adeline Glen.

Ironically, Dr. Adeline Glen suffers from a rare genetic disorder called congenital insensitivity to pain (a real medical condition) where she cannot feel pain. That might sound like a good thing to most persons, but as she explains to D.D., she could suffer a life-threatening injury and not know it. For that reason, she cannot lead a normal life or do the things that other people enjoy doing. An esteemed doctor, fascinated by Adeline’s disorder, adopted her when she was quite young, and he raised her to lead an ordinary life, at least as much as she could with her condition.

D.D.’s therapy is going well, but she soon discovers that Dr. Adeline Glen has been hiding some bizarre secrets. Adeline comes from a highly dysfunctional family. She is the daughter of the infamous serial killer, Harry Day, who murdered and skinned his victims and buried them under the family home. He died when Adeline was a baby. Her mother was a mental case, and her older sister, Shana Day, has been serving time in prison for 30 years for a murder she committed at age 14,as well as for murders committed while in prison.

Since the killer seems to be copying her father’s modus operandi, Adeline joins forces with D.D. to catch the predator before he murders again. D.D. is at a serious disadvantage due to her severe injury and her memory loss.

Lisa Gardner’s use of the themes of pain—both mental and physical, and the question of nature versus nurture– makes for fascinating reading in this psychological thriller. It is a dark and suspenseful novel, with some extremely creepy parts, but I couldn’t put it down. The intriguing plot, filled with twists and turns, will keep you guessing. The characters are incredibly realistic and everyone is a suspect!

I thoroughly enjoyed Kirsten Potter’s excellent narration of the audio version. Regular and large print copies of the novel are also available at the Joplin Public Library.

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