Friday, October 18, 2013

The Neighbor, Lisa Gardner

Ok, we're improving.

For one, this was the first one that really felt like a happy ending. Sure, Bobby and Annabelle got together at the end of Hide - to my disappointment, the beginning of this one talks about their wedding - but it still didn't give that...satisfied feeling happy endings usually produce.

Maybe because I was still hoping for DD and Bobby...

Anyway, this one did.

Of course, we have another woman getting away with murder, though. Two actually.

I can't get everything I want, I guess.

Also, DD is finally the main character. Though, I'm still not a huge fan of her.

So, we start with a missing wife/mother. Only, DD is instantly suspicious of the household. It's not too messy, not to clean, not too anything. Staged. And the husband is...withdrawn. Back in my hospital days we would say he had a flat affect. Which, could be shock, or, to DD's mind, a guilty conscience. Of course, I kinda think if he was guilty he would play up the grieving husband. Then again, maybe it's both, shock and guilt that he did it. But that goes back to DD trying to fit information into her theory regardless.

Of course, we're in his head, so we know he didn't do it.

So, the husband and wife each have traumatic pasts, but DD doesn't know that so she can't do her victim blaming thing. Of course it still comes up. After talking to the PO of a sex offender that lives in the neighborhood, she starts thinking about a young boy who had a registered sex offender for a father. His brother ended up shooting up a convenience store, killing the clerk. She'd had to send the younger brother back to his worthless father. She didn't know what had happened to the kid after that, but he was probably some horrible criminal by now, right? What else could he be?


Just because you have horrific things happen doesn't mean what you do later will be horrific. Some do, sure. And there is something to be said for the Nurture part of Nature vs. Nurture. But not all abusers become abusers. Or criminals.

At one point, the book uses some statistic about how one of the characteristics connecting most pedophiles is a sexual experience before the age of 14. Now, I wouldn't be surprised at all if this is true. It makes perfect sense. But correlation is not causation. What is missing is the reversed statistic. How many people who had a sexual experience before the age of 14 are not pedophiles? It makes a difference.

Anyway, my point, this victim blaming is ridiculous and harmful. That kid may very well have grown up to be a wonderful man and citizen.

So. DD starts investigating the woman's disappearance. The husband didn't do it, but her abusive father shows up and tries to take their daughter. The father wants to get custody of the kid for his sick fantasies. So, he kills the sex offender and plans to frame the husband then stage the husband's suicide. Meanwhile, the wife takes out the guy who is actually threatening her family/stalking her. She's home when her father comes to kill her husband and shoots him, even though the police are coming up the stairs and she could probably just have him arrested. So, that's two murders. She tells the cops the father admitted he killed the baddie and the sex offender, thereby literally getting away with murder. Which, of course, is why she didn't wait for the cops to arrest him. She probably could have claimed self defense with her dad, but I don't really think it was. And the baddie definitely wasn't.

Also, when DD hears the baddie and the sex offender are dead, she assumes the husband. Her theory is he killed the wife because she was having an affair with one or both guys, and is now killing the men. That's why the cops are at the house when she kills her father - they're going to arrest the husband. Frankly, it just doesn't seem to make much sense. I mean, DD thought his surprise when he heard about his wife having a affair - emotional if not physical - was genuine. And there was no evidence she and the sex offender even knew each other, let alone were having an affair.

It just made no sense. Why would he bring more suspicion on himself?

The father's behavior was way more suspicious. DD even thinks he's suspicious.

So, while the story itself is a bit more interesting, most of my issues are still there.

But, the baddies are dead (except the wife if you want to think about it that way) and the family is back together. So, it's mostly a happy ending.

Now that DD is really in it, I'll keep giving it the benefit of the doubt.

Who knows? Maybe the next one will be really, really good...

The Neighbor, Lisa Gardner

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