WHO DO YOU LOVE?
One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?
AND HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO . . .
As the homicide investigation ratchets into a frantic statewide search for a missing child, D. D. Warren must partner with former lover Bobby Dodge to break through the blue wall of police brotherhood, seeking to understand the inner workings of a trooper’s mind while also unearthing family secrets. Would a trained police officer truly shoot her own husband? And would a mother harm her own child?
. . . TO SAVE HER?
For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable. A mother knows who she loves. And all others will be made to pay.
Love you more . . .
About the Author
Lisa Gardner is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen novels. Her Detective D. D. Warren novels include Live to Tell, Hide, Alone, and the International Thriller Writers’ Award-winning novel The Neighbor. Her FBI Profiler novels include Say Goodbye, Gone, The Killing Hour, The Next Accident, and The Third Victim. She lives with her family in New England.
Read an Excerpt
Who do you love?
It’s a question anyone should be able to answer. A question that defines a life, creates a future, guides most minutes of one’s days. Simple, elegant, encompassing.
Who do you love?
He asked the question, and I felt the answer in the weight of my duty belt, the constrictive confines of my armored vest, the tight brim of my trooper’s hat, pulled low over my brow. I reached down slowly, my fingers just brushing the top of my Sig Sauer, holstered at my hip.
"Who do you love?" he cried again, louder now, more insistent.
My fingers bypassed my state- issued weapon, finding the black leather keeper that held my duty belt to my waist. The Velcro rasped loudly as I unfastened the first band, then the second, third, fourth. I worked the metal buckle, then my twenty pound duty belt, complete with my sidearm, Taser, and collapsible steel baton released from my waist and dangled in the space between us.
"Don’t do this," I whispered, one last shot at reason.
He merely smiled. "Too little, too late."
"Where’s Sophie? What did you do?"
"Belt. On the table. Now."
"GUN. On the table. NOW!"
In response, I widened my stance, squaring off in the middle of the kitchen, duty belt still suspended from my left hand. Four years of my life, patrolling the highways of Massachusetts, swearing to defend and protect. I had training and experience on my side.
I could go for my gun. Commit to the act, grab the Sig Sauer, and start shooting.
Sig Sauer was holstered at an awkward angle that would cost me precious seconds. He was watching, waiting for any sudden movement. Failure would be firmly and terribly punished.
Who do you love?
He was right. That’s what it came down to in the end. Who did you love and how much would you risk for them?
"GUN!" he boomed. "Now, dammit!"
I thought of my six- year- old daughter, the scent of her hair, the feel of her skinny arms wrapped tight around my neck, the sound of her voice as I tucked her in bed each night. "Love you, Mommy," she always whispered.
Love you, too, baby. Love you.
His arm moved, first tentative stretch for the suspended duty belt, my holstered weapon.
One last chance . . .
I looked my husband in the eye. A single heartbeat of time.
Who do you love?
I made my decision. I set down my trooper’s belt on the kitchen table.
And he grabbed my Sig Sauer and opened fire.
What People are Saying About This
“One of the best thriller writers in the business has written her best book to date.” —Associated Press
“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.” —Booklist
“Gardner's characters are fully drawn…and her taut storytelling and dizzying plot will appeal to fans of Harlan Coben.” —Library Journal
“Gardner hits an impressive new high with her latest taut thriller….Unbelievably gripping and clever, you won’t want to put it down until the final page!”
—Romantic Times Book Review
“Gripping….jaw-dropping.” —Publishers Weekly
"This book had me at the author’s name. Lisa Gardner…no one owns this corner of the genre the way she does—And Love You More might be her best ever."
"Tessa Leoni is a dedicated single mom when she is swept away by a man who turns out to be the wrong guy. Emotionally true, harrowing, and unputdownable. Brava, Lisa Gardner!"
"A heart-pounding tale of family drama by the Mozart of thriller writers. I could not tear myself away."
"I dare you to try and put this book down. Gardner does her homework and loads this thriller chockfull of authentic details, giving readers a front seat ride that will leave you gasping."
"Crisp prose, crackling plots, layered characters. A stickler for detail. Lisa Gardner is the best female thriller writer working today."
"Lisa Gardner is an amazing writer. Her characters are multi-dimensional and believable, and they tell the kinds of stories that grip you right from the first page."
"I loved that this book had not just one but two amazing, compelling, complex, and incredibly strong kick-ass female characters."
"Lisa Gardner’s books come with a built-in set of hands. They reach up out of the pages, grab you by the lapels, and hold you until you’ve read to the final, suspense-filled sentence. And Love You More is no exception."
“It has the chills and thrills to excite, and the heart to draw you in.”
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.
SAR dogs start by training to find live humans, then graduate to finding bodies. The techniques are basic enough I thought I’d try them at home. We started easy: My daughter stood not far from the dogs, holding a cup of Cheerios. I got the dogs to sit, then uttered the command, Go Find! The dogs turned and stared at me. Eventually, they wandered over to my daughter (probably to get away from the crazy lady), where they were pleasantly surprised to receive Cheerios. They became more interested. Next time out, they went straight to my daughter, got their treat. Phase one accomplished.
Phase two, my daughter moved behind a piece of furniture but in the same room. My dogs (brilliant, I tell you!), figured this out pretty quick. Next up, my daughter hid completely out of sight in a different room. This took them longer, but once they found her and earned Cheerios, they became convinced Go Find was the best game ever. I was very pleased. Yes, my dogs are talented.
Then, one day, the dogs caught me getting the Cheerios out of the pantry. You could see the wheels turning in their minds. We like Cheerios. There are the Cheerios. We like Cheerios. There are Cheerios. Sure enough, I told them Go Find, and they obediently ran and sat in front of the pantry. Apparently, the human part never registered for them. They’re just looking for crunchy O’s, and now that they know where they are…
Apparently, if Jimmy falls in a well in our town, he’d better have his pockets filled with Cheerios. Or, my dogs also enjoy Kix.
2. SAR dogs enjoy long walks in all sorts of terrain; my dogs enjoy Tempur-Pedic.
The secret to a successful search is understanding scent. It originates from the target in an ever expanding vector. For a dog to find the target, he or she must find the opening of the cone, then, in a zigzag pattern, trace it back to point of origin. It’s the dog handler’s job to enable these efforts by considering a variety of factors. For example, scent pools at barriers. So when working an open field, a good handler will start with the row of bushes in order to best locate the scent. Also, in the morning, scent rises like a mist, meaning search efforts might start from a bluff. Whereas at night, scent cools and dips low, meaning search efforts might move to the gully. Either way, SAR canines and their handlers need to be prepared to scrabble over boulders, pick their way through rubble, bound across streams and bushwhack through forests. An experienced dog will work two hours, then take a twenty minute break, then work again.
It’s physically demanding endurance work, that five years ago, both my dogs would’ve loved. Now, entering the golden years, their standards have changed. For example, my dogs’ idea of a walk is to their food bowls and back. Scrabbling over boulders…mmm, more like flopping onto a sofa. Like a lot of aging athletes, they have moments of youthful glory—a chattering squirrel that simply demands a good chasing. Then they come limping back, eager for their joint supplements, and of course, Cheerios.
3. SAR dogs don’t mind boats; my dogs don’t mind puking on boats.
Search and Recovery teams are trained for three kinds of searches: Live, cadaver and water. The water part caught me off guard. Dogs working in boats, searching open bodies of water? Seriously? Yes. Turns out, a current of water carries scent just like a current of wind. The handler’s job then, becomes to understand the nature of water, relying on topographical maps, changing temperatures and local knowledge (consults with area fishermen). Handler and dog then goes out in a small boat, where the dog, sniffing and sometimes even snapping at the water, can find cadavers in depths of up to 100 feet.
As for my adorable pooches. We had the bright idea to take them out in a speed boat last year. The fluffy white female who is highly noise sensitive (a Sheltie trait), shuddered, quaked and prayed for deliverance. The male, who is afraid of nothing, bounded around good naturedly for the first five minutes. Then his sweet black face turned green and he started doing things on that boat, you don’t want to read about in this article. We haven’t taken them boating since.
I loved my time with the SAR dogs. Not only did I get great research information for what became one of my favorite scenes in Love You More, but I was humbled and amazed by the dedication of the extremely talented canines and their handlers. So much work and devotion, and they’re not even paid for their efforts. They do it because it’s a calling, a way of giving back, and, in a time of crisis, a way of making a huge difference.
As for my dogs… Maybe SAR work isn’t their thing. But I still insist, they’re the best book dogs out there, not to mention two extremely well-loved members of our family. They helped me out with Love You More. And we hope you enjoy, too.