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Live to Tell (Detective D. D. Warren Series #4)

Live to Tell (Detective D. D. Warren Series #4)

4.0 710
by Lisa Gardner, Kirsten Potter (Read by), Rebecca Lowman (Read by), Ann Marie Lee (Read by)

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He knows everything about you—including the first place you’ll hide.
On a warm summer night in one of Boston’s working-class neighborhoods, an unthinkable crime has been committed: Four members of a family have been brutally murdered. The father—and possible suspect—now lies clinging to life in the ICU. Murder-suicide? Or


He knows everything about you—including the first place you’ll hide.
On a warm summer night in one of Boston’s working-class neighborhoods, an unthinkable crime has been committed: Four members of a family have been brutally murdered. The father—and possible suspect—now lies clinging to life in the ICU. Murder-suicide? Or something worse? Veteran police detective D. D. Warren is certain of only one thing: There’s more to this case than meets the eye.

Danielle Burton is a survivor, a dedicated nurse whose passion is to help children at a locked-down pediatric psych ward. But she remains haunted by a family tragedy that shattered her life nearly twenty-five years ago. The dark anniversary is approaching, and when D. D. Warren and her partner show up at the facility, Danielle immediately realizes: It has started again.

A devoted mother, Victoria Oliver has a hard time remembering what normalcy is like. But she will do anything to ensure that her troubled son has some semblance of a childhood. She will love him no matter what. Nurture him. Keep him safe. Protect him. Even when the threat comes from within her own house. 

The lives of these three women unfold and connect in unexpected ways, as sins from the past emerge—and stunning secrets reveal just how tightly blood ties can bind. Sometimes the most devastating crimes are the ones closest to home.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Boston police detective D. D. Warren returns in another gripping thriller. A family is murdered, apparently by the father (who, it seems, barely failed to take his own life after killing his wife and young children). But soon there are questions, the most pressing of which is, Why would this man, apparently out of the blue, slaughter his own family? Is it possible that someone else was the killer, perhaps another member of the family? In addition to telling a compelling story, Gardner also explores an issue that is rarely discussed in fiction: children who are psychotic. In first-person chapters narrated by other characters (Victoria, a mother at her wits’ end; Danielle, survivor of a family slaughter), she eases the reader into unfamiliar territory, telling us about children—like Evan, Victoria’s eight-year-old son—who are capable of astonishing violence, including plotting to murder their own parents. Gardner has never shied away from creepy, psychologically twisted stories, but this may be her most unsettling. The notion of murderous children may be off-putting enough to make some readers avoid the book. That would be a mistake: Gardner never sensationalizes her story, and the book ends with a resolution that is creatively and emotionally appropriate. An excellent novel." —Booklist

Product Details

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Detective D. D. Warren Series , #4
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 5.86(h) x 1.14(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Thursday night, Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren was out on a date. It wasn’t the worst date she’d ever been on. It wasn’t the best date she’d ever been on. It was, however, the only date she’d been on in quite some time, so unless Chip the accountant turned out to be a total loser, she planned on taking him home for a rigorous session of balance- theledger. So far, they’d made it through half a loaf of bread soaked in olive oil, and half a cow seared medium rare. Chip had managed not to talk about the prime rib bleeding all over her plate or her need to sop up juices with yet another slice of bread. Most men were taken aback by her appetite. They needed to joke uncomfortably about her ability to tuck away plate after plate of food. Then they felt the need to joke even more uncomfortably that, of course, none of it showed on her girlish figure.

 Yeah, yeah, she had the appetite of a sumo wrestler but the build of a cover girl. She was nearly forty, for God’s sake, and well aware by now of her freakish metabolism. She certainly didn’t need any soft- middled desk jockey pointing it out. Food was her passion. Mostly because her job with Boston PD’s homicide unit didn’t leave much time for sex. She polished off the prime rib, went to work on the twice- baked potato. Chip was a forensic accountant. They’d been set up by the wife of a friend of a guy in the unit. Yep, it made that much sense to D.D. as well. But here she was, sitting in a coveted booth at the Hilltop Steakhouse, and really, Chip was all right. Little doughy in the middle, little bald on top, but funny. D.D. liked funny. When he smiled, the corners of his deep brown eyes crinkled and that was good enough for her. 

She was having meat and potatoes for dinner and, if all went as planned, Chip for dessert. 

So, of course, her pager went off. 

She scowled, shoved it to the back of her waistband, as if that would make a difference. 

“What’s that?” Chip asked, catching the chime. 

“Birth control,” she muttered. 

Chip blushed to the roots of his receding brown hair, then in the next minute grinned with such self- deprecating power she nearly went weak in the knees. 

Better be good, D.D. thought. Better be a fucking massacre, or I’ll be damned if I’m giving up my night. 

But then she read the call and was sorry she’d ever thought such a thing. 

Chip the funny accountant got a kiss on the cheek. 

Then Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren hit the road. 

D.D. had been a Boston PD detective for nearly twelve years now. 

She’d started out investigating traffic fatalities and drug- related homicides before graduating to such major media events as the discovery of six mummified corpses in an underground chamber; then, more recently, the disappearance of a beautiful young schoolteacher from South Boston. Her bosses liked to put her in front of the camera. 
Nothing like a pretty blonde detective to mix things up. 

She didn’t mind. D.D. thrived on stress. Enjoyed a good pressurecooker case even more than an all-you-can-eat buffet. Only drawback was the toll on her personal life. As a sergeant in the homicide unit, D.D. was the leader of a three- person squad. It wasn’t uncommon for them to spend all day tracking down leads, interviewing informants, or revisiting crime scenes. Then they spent most of the night writing up the resulting interviews, affidavits, and/or warrant requests. Each squad also had to take turns being “on deck,” meaning they caught the next case called in, keeping them stuck in a permanent vortex of top- priority active cases, still- unsolved old cases, and at least one or two fresh call- outs per week. 

D.D. didn’t sleep much. Or date much. Or really do anything much. Which had been fine until last year, when she’d turned thirtyeight and watched her ex- lover get married and start a family. Suddenly, the tough, brash sergeant who considered herself wed to her job found herself studying Good Housekeeping magazine and, even worse, Modern Bride. One day, she picked up Parenting. There was nothing more depressing than a nearly forty- year- old single, childless homicide detective reading Parenting magazine alone in her North End condo. 

Especially when she realized some of the articles on dealing with toddlers applied to managing her squad as well. 

She recycled the magazines, then vowed to go on a date. Which had led to Chip—poor, almost- got- his- brains- screwed- out Chip—and now had her on her way to Dorchester. Wasn’t even her squad’s turn on deck, but the notification had been “red ball,” meaning something big and bad enough had happened to warrant all hands on deck. D.D. turned off I-93, then made her way through the maze of streets to the largely working- class neighborhood. Among local officers, Dorchester was known for its drugs, shootings, and raucous neighborhood parties that led to more drugs and shootings. BPD’s local field district, C-11, had set up a noise reduction hotline as well as a designated “Party Car” to patrol on weekends. Five hundred phone tips and numerous preventive arrests later, Dorchester was finally seeing a decline in homicides, rapes, and aggravated assaults. On the other hand, burglaries were way up. Go figure. 

Under the guidance of her vehicle’s navigational system, D.D. ended up on a fairly nice street, double lanes dotted with modest stamps of green lawn and flanked with a long row of tightly nestled three- story homes, many sporting large front porches and an occasional turret. 

Most of these dwellings had been carved into multiple- living units over the years, with as many as six to eight in a single house. It was still a nice- looking area, the lawns neatly mowed, the front-porch banisters freshly painted. The softer side of Dorchester, she decided, more and more curious. 

D.D. spotted a pileup of Crown Vics, and slowed to park. It was eight- thirty on a Thursday night, August sun just starting to fade on the horizon. She could make out the white ME’s vehicle straight ahead, as well as the traveling crime lab. The vans were bookended by the usual cluster of media trucks and neighborhood gawkers. 

When D.D. had first read the location of the call, she’d assumed drugs. Probably a gangland shooting. A bad one, given that the deputy superintendent wanted all eighteen detectives in attendance, so most likely involving collateral damage. Maybe a grandmother caught sitting on her front porch, maybe kids playing on the sidewalk. These things happened, and no, they didn’t get any easier to take. But you handled it, because this was Boston, and that’s what a Boston detective did. 

Now, however, as D.D. climbed out of her car, clipped her credentials to the waistband of her skinny black jeans, and retrieved a plain white shirt to button up over her date cleavage, she was thinking, Not drugs. She was thinking this was something worse. She slung a light jacket over her sidearm, and headed up the sidewalk toward the lion’s den. 

D.D. pushed her way through the first wave of jostling adults and curious children. She did her best to keep focused, but still caught phrases such as “shots fired . . .” “heard squealing like a stuck pig . . .” “Why, I just saw her unloading groceries not four hours before . . .” “Excuse me, excuse me, pardon me. Police sergeant. Buddy, out of the way.” She broke through, ducking under the yellow tape roping off portions of the sidewalk, and finally arrived at the epicenter of crime- scene chaos. 

The house before her was a gray- painted triple- decker boasting a broad- columned front porch and large American flag. Both front doors were wide open, enabling better traffic flow of investigative personnel, as well as the ME’s metal gurney. 

D.D. noted delicate lace curtains framed in bay windows on either side of the front door. In addition to the American flag, the porch contained four cheerful pots of red geraniums, half a dozen blue folding chairs, and a hanging piece of slate that had been painted with more red geraniums and the bright yellow declaration: Welcome. 

Yep, definitely something worse than gun- toting, tennis- shoetossing drug dealers. 

D.D. sighed, put on her game face, and approached the uniformed officer stationed at the base of the front steps. She rattled off her name and badge number. In turn, the officer dutifully recorded the info in the murder book, then jerked his head down to the bin at his feet. D.D. obediently fished out booties and a hair covering. So it was that kind of crime scene. 

She climbed the steps slowly, keeping to one side. They appeared recently stained, a light Cape Cod gray that suited the rest of the house. The porch was homey, well kept. Clean enough that she suspected it had been recently broom swept. Perhaps after unloading groceries, a household member had tidied up? 

It would’ve been better if the porch had been dirty, covered in dust. That might have yielded shoe treads. That might have helped catch whoever did the bad thing D.D. was about to find inside. 

She took another breath right outside the door, inhaled the scent of sawdust and drying blood. She heard a reporter calling for a statement. She heard the snap of a camera, the roar of a media chopper, and white noise all around. Gawkers behind, detectives ahead, reporters above. 

Chaos: loud, smelly, overwhelming. 

Her job now was to make it right. 

She got to it.

Meet the Author

Lisa Gardner is the New York Times bestselling author of fourteen novels and one novella.

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Live to Tell 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 710 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Live to Tell" is Lisa Gardner's latest installment in the Detective D.D. Warren series that takes place in Boston. Never having read any of the other books in the series, I wondered if I could pick up the back story of D.D. Warren and understand her character - not to worry, the author does a great job of providing a history without it taking pages of details. This was a great story! It is the perfect summer read with an interesting mystery, good characters that all tie together without stretching the imagination and a very interesting topic - psychologically damaged children. This isn't a story about kids damaged because of what was done to them by uncaring adults but kids born with psychological issues - the kids can't sit still, don't react to authority, destructive behavior - and all reared by loving, caring, involved parents. From the first chapter, the story gripped me and it continued through the end of the book. Gardner does a great job of bringing in different characters, tying them togher yet making you care about each of them. One of my biggest pet peeves is when an author spends the last chapter with the main characters explaining the story. That is not the case here - you are watching the story unfold as you read it and that is just one of the many good things about "Live to Tell." I found myself thinking of the parents in the story as real people and wondering if I know people who are going through this with their kids! I highly recommend this book. I am going back to look into Gardner's other books and bring myself up to speed on Detective Warren's history.
PattiM46 More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of Lisa Gardner since she first published and I have to say that this book was by far the best she has written. The plot flowed, it was intense. I started the book on Wednesday and by Friday I was darn near done. If you want a good read this is it however you need to start with the 1st book in the series so you can understand all of the characters and why they are the way they are. And when you get to this book start it on Friday so you have the weekend to read as you wont want to put it down. Cant wait for her next book.
13RM13 More than 1 year ago
This story recounts the experiences of a number of children who were abused by their psychotic or alcoholic parents. This is a gripping, intense and unsettling read of grim humor, distinctive dialogue, meaningful characterizations, and a compelling plot. Danielle was the sole survivor; her father brutally murdered her mother, her sister, her brother, and then took his own life in front of her. She has been in therapy for many years and at thirty-four, fullfills her need to help as a pediatric nurse in an acute care psychiatric ward where children act out in self destructive ways such as injuring themselves, screaming or banging their heads against the walls or floor. Touching and heartfelt! A meaningful read!
CBH More than 1 year ago
Troubled children that are taken to and treated in a pediatric psych ward of a medical facility have reached that location after much anguish and mental and physical abuse of their parents and anyone that has attempted to work with them. The path is long, troubled, and many times caused by former abuse to those children by another person, usually a family member or close friend. It can be various kinds of abuse, not just sexual, but regardless they end up needing long professional treatment. Sometimes that treatment is successful and sometimes not. In some few situations the professional furthers the abuse creating a worse monster out of the child, but in most cases the child is helped with improvement, slight as it may be, occurring over time. Lisa Gardner had to have done much research to take the reader into this world to the point that you can feel the tension, the personal games played, the many ways attempted to help these children even though the professionals themselves are sometimes hurt physically by a child. Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren is a tough cop who has seen all types of crime but even she was awoken when she entered this world of children's mental problems. She was a 12-year member of the Boston Police Department who was a workaholic who seemed to prefer work to a meaningful date, or so it seemed lately. When several families were murdered seemingly by one of their own family members, D. D. got dragged into this world of child psychotic behavior. Many characters were a part of "Live to Tell" from the children themselves to the parents, to the nurses and workers in the psych wards, and of course the police. You will be Victoria, the mother of a broken family that has a problem son; Danielle, a pediatric psych ward nurse who doesn't remember exactly what occurred when her family was killed; Andrew Lightfoot, a believer in spiritual powers and "other" planes of being; and of course the children who could behave one minute and be hollering or attempting to hurt someone the next. There was some love interests in the book, most of which couldn't get off the ground because of the severe cases all of which they were a part. D. D. was working with Alex who was on temporary assignment with her and they did have interest in each other when time allowed. The depth that Lisa Gardner obtained in the entire book creates an inner feeling as one reads. How can families get in this situation with a child that can go so wrong and create such havoc to so many people? The work that the professionals perform in such hospitals, or sections of regular hospitals is so unnerving to their lives that they have to have burnout more often than other professions. I will not go into more about the book other than to tell you that this is a must read of one of Lisa Gardner's books. I have enjoyed her other books but this one took me to places I have not even imagined in my long life.
SHASTALOVE More than 1 year ago
"Live to tell" is an intense psychological thriller. For instance, Victoria is the single parent of an eight-year old with unpredictable mood swings. He hugs his mom with love one minute and shortly after, threatens to stab her with a knife. The boo focuses on psychotic children, their treatment, caregivers and their impact on others, mostly family members. D.D. Warren is the detective assigned to a case of a murdered family in Boston. Danielle is a psychological mess after surviving while her mother and two siblings were murdered by her father who then killed himself. Horrifying, but you won't be able to put the book down!!
dhaupt More than 1 year ago
Sergeant DD Warren has had some really bad cases before but she may have just been given the worst of her life. What looks like a whole family annihilation has just been doubled and now it looks as though it just might have been staged, but for who and why. Well DD will soon be looking for all the answers and isn't she lucky that a retired cop turned professor is tagging along with her team to keep his feet in field work and just maybe lend a helping hand. Lisa Gardner is one serious lady when it comes to crime dramas. She will wow her audience with her latest chilling thrilling tale of madness, mayhem and murder and she takes us deep into forbidden territories of the psyches of mentally ill children, their families and their caretakers, yet she does it with so much care and compassion that her audience will yet again celebrate her victory over some of the baddest dudes on the planet. Her quick paced dialogue is filled with tough cop speak and no nonsense narrative as she takes us on some of the most chilling and horrifying detective work ever to come out of someone's imagination and yet during it all we get introspection into the characters by reading their thoughts, their hopes and their fears. Now let's talk about her characters, they all really steal the show as they either inch their way into our hearts or our nightmares and not only her protagonist DD but her team of cops, the children, the care givers to the frazzled parents we get a realistic glimpse of a world most of us will never see or imagine as someone's everyday life and then we get to see the malevolence of her villain as we try with usually no success to pick him/her out of the line up. As with all Ms. Gardner's novels there is a love story of sorts, but this is definitely not a romance. So if you're up for being scared out of your mind, who else would you turn to but Lisa Gardner, if you want to read the results of a world class storyteller, that's right Lisa's your girl, if you want to kick some butt and take names go no farther that Live to Tell, your next must read, believe me you wont be sorry. Kudos to you Ms. Gardner.
gtutty1 More than 1 year ago
It seems that every summer I am looking for something good to read at Cape Cod and Lisa Gardner always comes to the rescue. This was my first summer with my Nook and she was just as good electronically. She lets a few of the characters speak for themselves which adds a special flavor to the book. She has you guessing right 'til the end as to the murderer. Much of the plot deals with disturbed children struggling with various mental issues. Gardner handles them with the expertise of someone who has done her homework. A great summer read--a great fall, winter and spring read, also. And those who have been afraid to give up their books for a Nook--it is okay. It is the future and the future is here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Live to Tell was a good read with plenty of twists to keep you interested. Nice writing on such an unusual topic!
BigTexasAJ More than 1 year ago
I always start my reviews off by saying how much I simply LOVE Lisa Gardner's books!! BUT... this one didn't do it for me. It was very interesting and suspenseful but the storyline just when in a direction that I didn't care for. It was part disturbing and part unrealistic. I know none of these books are "real" but I at least want to feel like they are as I'm reading them. I still enjoyed it and finished it but it wasn't what I was expecting. On to the next book!
Jennie MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
Surpise! Ive read most of her books and they are awsome this ine sucks ANNA
RAG69 More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! I have been fan of Lisa Gardner for many years and have read all of her books! I've gotten my 3 oldest children reading them as well. I can't get enough! When I start reading any of her books I have to read it almost nonstop because I literally can't put it down! Live to Tell was one of her best! Must read. But she hasn't come out with another one yet so I really need another good author's books to read. I love Lisa Gardner mysteries so does anyone have any suggestions?
Kayceedee More than 1 year ago
Typically love Lisa Gardner, but halfway through, I gave up...and I NEVER do that. The subject matter was too disturbing and I couldn't get past the details.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lisa Gardner does her research and brings lots to the table to chew on... In this book we get a look at mass murder... But not random people but entire families. Lisa also takes us into the inner sanctum of a pediatric psych ward which is terrifying. Since Lisa does her research, I have to believe this scenario has truth to it but it's truly terrifying to think kids can be this messed up. Chilling!
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Fantastic mystery
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NewEnglanderJC More than 1 year ago
This book was dealing with disturbing material and I found it to be very tough to get thru. I have read her first three Dd Warren novels and loved them. I'm wondering why she dwelled so long within the confines of the children's mental hospital. I kept hoping the book would take a chapter or two outside the confines.  I have only about 100 pages left and struggle to get to the end. This book will really decide whether or not I move on to  her next novel.  If her subject matter is going to be like this,  I'm done. Certainly she proves herself an author who can deliver a great mystery and not have to drag us down with such dark topics, and not let us come up for air once in a while. This book is a huge disappointment. I don't recommend it unless you can cope with disturbing content. Even the character of DD seems to have changed.  I don't care for her demeanor at all.  No substance yo what found have been a great character. I feel I know nothing about her..or she isn't who I thought she was.