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The Lost Witness (Lena Gamble Novels) Mass Market Paperback – May 25, 2010

80 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Lena Gamble Novels Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this suspenseful sequel to City of Fire, LAPD detective Lena Gamble is assigned to investigate the gruesome killing of a local prostitute who has been dismembered and left in a Dumpster. The chances of solving the case look hopeless—until a mysterious witness sends Gamble critical evidence, thrusting her into a quagmire of corruption and danger. Eanna Hurst delivers an excellently paced reading, shifting between pitched gun battles, contemplative musings and simmering suspense. Her focused performance brings Gamble to life, allowing the author's flawed and fully rounded character to emerge. A good listen that will scintillate thriller fans. A St. Martin's Minotaur hardcover (Reviews, Dec. 1). (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Fans of Michael Connelly and T. Jefferson Parker will relish Ellis’ second crackling thriller featuring Hollywood robbery-homicide detective Lena Gamble. On the outs with her department after the volatile outcome of her last case, shrewd, moody Detective Gamble is given a final chance to prove herself by solving the grisliest of homicides: a beautiful young woman chopped into pieces and dropped in a dumpster. Early clues reveal the victim, Jennifer McBride, as a prostitute. But as the investigation deepens, Gamble becomes convinced McBride was nothing of the sort. At the same time, Detective Gamble grows wary that she’s being set up to fail by a vengeful chief of police and his minions. With the help of a handful of officers she trusts, Gamble sets out to untangle a web of lethal secrets and lies. Among the players: a corrupt pharmaceutical executive, a sleazy senator, and an American soldier turned sinister by tours of duty in Iraq. The body count climbs as Gamble inches closer to the culprit. Can she put the final elements in place before more blood is spilled? Movie director, producer, and novelist Ellis (City of Fire, 2007) serves up a killer crime tale with riveting characters and relentless twists. --Allison Block --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Lena Gamble Novels (Book 2)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books; Reprint edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312366167
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312366162
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,617,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Ellis is the international bestselling author of "Access to Power", "The Dead Room", and the critically acclaimed L.A. Times bestseller "City of Fire", "The Lost Witness", and "Murder Season" - selected as top reads by Booklist, Publishers Weekly, National Public Radio, The Chicago Tribune, The Toronto Sun, The Guardian (UK), The Evening Telegraph (UK), People Magazine, USA Today, and The New York Times. His novels have been translated into more than ten languages, are read in more than thirty-five countries, and are available in audio and all digital formats. Born in Philadelphia, Robert moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a writer, producer, and director in film, television, and advertising. Robert studied writing with Walter Tevis, author of "The Hustler", "The Man Who Fell to Earth", and "The Color of Money." His books have garnered praise from a diverse group of authors including Janet Evanovich's wonderful review in People Magazine. But perhaps Michael Connelly said it best: "'City of Fire' is my kind of crime novel. Gritty, tight and assured. Riding with Detective Lena Gamble through the hills of Los Angeles is something I could get used to. She's tough, smart, and most of all, she's real."

For more information, visit Robert Ellis online at


"Los Angeles, under a cloud of acrid smoke ... Robert Ellis´s City of Fire is a gripping, spooky crime novel."

"City of Fire is my kind of crime novel. Gritty, tight and assured. Riding with Detective Lena Gamble through the hills of Los Angeles is something I could get used to. She's tough, smart, and most of all, she's real."

"I just discovered this guy. This book is terrific."

"City of Fire by Robert Ellis is a no-holds-barred, barnburner of a thriller that blends Los Angeles-style crime fiction a la Michael Connelly with pulse-pounding Dean Koontzian psychological suspense. With a Southern California increasingly threatened by Santa Ana-fueled wildfires as backdrop, the emotionally supercharged story line centers on a killer who terrorizes west Los Angeles ... like Connelly's gritty Bosch saga, City of Fire features a tough but deeply flawed protagonist, a tantalizingly complex plot, fully realized -- and realistic -- characters and, most of all, a palpable intensity. And if that weren't enough, the bombshell plot twist at the novel's conclusion makes this an absolute must read for thriller aficionados."

"Ellis nicely depicts how the unsolved murder of Lena's musician brother casts a specter over her life and work. But City of Fire is ... about its propulsive plot: the ins and outs of police investigation and how the growing horror of a mad multiple murderer loose on the fiery streets of Los Angeles leads to unexpected decisions, layers of betrayal and a scorcher of an ending."

"Robert Ellis' brisk, complex City of Fire is hot stuff. Ellis excels at vivid writing and the expert plotting keeps the reader off-kilter. Ellis takes the police procedural and makes it a tale of personal corruption and desire, where right and wrong overlap. Here, the answers aren't easy as Lena wonders about 'blowback ... what the truth could do to a soul.' L.A., which is written about so often, seems fresh in the hands of an original storyteller such as Ellis."

"Ellis vividly evokes Hollywood as a place of burning desires, where the boundaries between good and evil are blurred beyond distinction. Ellis's prose is crisp, and his plot moves at a good clip. His characters are credible and complex."

"This potboiler dishes it out. This book is fast. Ellis makes it easy to be terrified. Recommended for popular collections."

"An LAPD detective goes out on an emotional limb chasing a violent serial killer. Lena Gamble and her new partner, Hank Novak, are called to an early morning crime scene in a small house near the Pacific Coast Highway ... A complex portrait of the flawed but righteous Lena by Ellis (The Dead Room, 2002, etc.) makes this sure-footed police procedural something special."

"City of Fire begins like a roller coaster, building tension, anxiety and fear. Then it plunges at full speed, spiraling and twisting through scenes that will have hearts pounding and fingers flying through the pages. But there is no smooth braking to a stop in this book. It careens to the end and then flies off the rail with a shocking twist that will leave readers stunned. Robert Ellis is a master of suspense."


"Scorching. Deliciously twisted. Nothing is what it appears to be. Ellis succeeds masterfully in both playing fair and pulling surprise after surprise in a story that feels like a runaway car plunging down a mountain road full of switchbacks."

"Fans of Michael Connelly and T. Jefferson Parker will relish Ellis' second crackling thriller featuring Hollywood robbery-homicide detective Lena Gamble. Ellis (City of Fire, 2007) serves up a killer crime tale with riveting characters and relentless twists."

"Certain powerful and corrupt individuals, some of them with the LAPD, arrange an efficient murder. Then, curiously, the department assigns the case to a detective whom they think will mess up the investigation. Two problems emerge: Robbery-Homicide Detective Lena Gamble (City of Fire) has no intention of failing, and there is an unknown witness helping her. Doggedly, Lena cuts through all the corruption, defies her superiors' orders, and, of course, puts herself in danger repeatedly. Ellis's elaborate puzzle is a nail-biter to the final page. Great LA settings enhance this high-speed thriller. Recommended for all popular collections."

"Ellis writes well and has a good sense of pace and timing. Once you start "The Lost Witness," you'll stay with it through those zigs and zags. And even when you finish the book, it'll spring up like a side effect each time you see those pharmaceutical commercials on the network evening news."

"Ellis piles on the Hollywood atmosphere and procedural detail, and the end revelation is expertly timed and genuinely shocking."

"The Lost Witness is a tough thriller that makes Ellis a name to watch."

"The Lost Witness is another gripping story by a writer who knows the seamy L.A. underworld well."

"City of Fire, the first in the Lena Gamble series, was good, but this second installment, The Lost Witness, is better. Nothing is as it seems in this unputdownable thriller which stars a woman of uncommon courage."

"Our staff is very much in agreement that THE LOST WITNESS may very well be one of the best thrillers that you will read in 2009."

"One of the first things noticed when reading Ellis´s latest (The Lost Witness), much like his first, is the realistic and fantastic job he does with his approach to this high octane tale from a female´s perspective. With not too much, and not too little, his creation of a female heroine comes off with just the right amount of bravado and sensitivity to convince even the most discerning of readers. And to top that off, while the story starts off with an even and steady tone, its steady but ever-increasing pace heads towards the explosive ending like a firecracker; one that explodes with more force and surprises than ever expected. And it´s in reaching this unexpected ending and finding out finally who done what and why that makes this read top-notch; there´s much more here than meets the eye. Filled with greed, big money, family loyalty, and things best left to the reader to discover on their own, this is one that comes highly recommended."


"The new Robert Ellis thriller MURDER SEASON balances the reality of high profile murder cases with a wonderful protagonist -- L.A. police detective Lena Gamble. Before you can say 'Chinatown' we are immersed in a tale of mind-boggling corruption where virtually every character in the book has a hidden agenda. Ellis is a master plotter who keeps triggering surprises at regular intervals. Along the way we meet wonderful characters."

"Robert Ellis is not quite a household name yet, but on the strength of MURDER SEASON, his fifth novel, such a destiny seems inevitable. This is a strong, riveting read from beginning to end. Within the space of a few books, Ellis has demonstrated that rare ability to skillfully navigate his readers through a complex plot filled with interesting, dangerous and surprising characters."

"The first chapter in MURDER SEASON is truly masterful, and if I were teaching students a way to write a first chapter that laid in the themes of the book, set a tone, and did it concisely yet beautifully, I think I would use this chapter. Fancy writing shouldn't put you off reading it, however, because to miss this novel would be a crime. And after setting the tone with the first chapter, MURDER SEASON is off and running."

"MURDER SEASON is, at its heart, a kick ass police procedural with lots of twists. Ellis is also wonderful with characters, and he makes you care not only about Lena Gamble, but about several other characters in the book, notably a cop on his way down. Ellis's thoughtful meditations on what's right and what's wrong make MURDER SEASON a standout."

"Ellis's Lena Gamble is one character readers cannot get enough of. We want more."



"MURDER SEASON will sweep through your reading hours like a raging, out of control forest fire. It roars with suspense and growls with danger--and the unexpected and clever conclusion will leave you with your mouth hanging open in shock. You might just need to be put on oxygen after reading this one."

"Ellis's style is mostly straight-ahead and to-the-point, with some noticeably impressionistic passages that open and close the novel. Yet, at every moment when a conclusion seems obvious, Ellis tosses in twists and surprises that propel the story to different levels, keeping us guessing until the final page."

"The combination of unanticipated revelations and the effectively portrayed sense of utter alienation that eats away at Gamble's confidence make MURDER SEASON the most intense and haunting entry of the series to date."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When someone ascends to the height of a profession, others are often compared to them, some deservidly, some not.

With "The Lost Witness," Ellis has been compared to Michael Connelly and I believe that the comparison is just.

In this story, Lena Gamble, L.A. detective is given a case of a dismembered body found in a dumpster. Lena is disliked by her superiors due to the way she handled a prior case in which a police officer was involved. As a result, for the last six months, she has been doing administrative work. Now she wonders if she is being set up.

As she investigates the murder, she receives information identifying the Jane Doe as Jennifer McBride. However, when she attempts to notify next of kin, she learns that McBride has been dead for over two years. Now Lena must find out who the Jane Doe is and why she was using another woman's identity.

The hunt for the killers goes through various trails, all the while, providing excellent tension. Lena discovers that there is corruption and deceit within her department and she may be the next target of those attempting to keep the facts in the case from going public.

The author provides some well thought plot twists and gives his readers an original story. The manner in which the mystery is solved was powerfully done. Lena is fine protagonist, ready to stand alone if necessary to get to the bottom of the case. I was entertained by this novel and recommend it strongly.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Peter Crabb on February 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Robert Ellis's The Lost Witness is a riveting sequel to City of Fire, which introduced his intriguing protagonist L.A.P.D. Detective Lena Gamble. In Lost Witness, Gamble is still recovering from her earlier case when a horrific new murder case is thrust on her by the Chief of Police. I have never read a more puzzling and convoluted crime thriller. I literally could not put the book down until I reached the last page.

In addition to Ellis's masterful use of suspense and his vast knowledge of police procedures, he peppers the action with delightful and cutting social commentary: on technology, on political corruption, on environmental degradation, and, central to the plot, on the evils of the pharmaceutical industry. These insightful jabs at modern society set Ellis apart as a deeply insightful writer who also knows how to spin a hell of a good story.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ted Feit VINE VOICE on April 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Psychology plays an important role in the plot of "The Lost Witness" and misconceptions run rampant throughout the novel. It not only confuses the protagonist, Lena Gamble, but the reader as well (as it is intended to). Lena, who solved a murder and brought down the bad cops in "City of Fire," is apparently being shunned for many months by being assigned meaningless work. She thinks she's being held in disgrace by the powers-that-be and thinks they're trying to force her off the LAPD.

Then Lena is assigned to a baffling murder case, with no support. It seems she's being set up for a real fall. But the good trooper plods on despite all odds. Then one day an envelope containing a video of the murder together with the "victim's" driver's license is dropped off by a messenger, and off Lena goes, step by step seeking evidence (despite the video being so blurry that identification is almost impossible and the fact that the witness can't be found).

Once again, the author uses his knowledge of Los Angeles for detailed descriptions. But more important is his tight grip on the story line and knife-edged characterizations. There are so many plot twists he has the reader (and Lena) coming and going before bringing the book to an unexpected and exciting conclusion. Very highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G. S. Foster on February 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Since Amazon for some strange reason neglected to include PW's stellar red starred review, I'd like to do so here:

The Lost Witness Robert Ellis. St. Martin's Minotaur, $25.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-312-36615-5
In Ellis's scorching sequel to City of Fire (2007), LAPD robbery and homicide detective Lena Gamble is surprised when she's handed a particularly horrific murder case. Her trusted supervisor, Lt. Frank Barrera, even warns her that it may be a trap. A dismembered female body found in a dumpster in Hollywood offers little in the way of clues until an anonymous witness delivers the Jane Doe's driver's license and a flash drive showing the victim's kidnapping. Gamble follows every lead even when her own bosses spy on her and warn her off investigating the son of a powerful pharmaceutical company owner and a physician who knew the dead woman. Finding the missing witness before the killer finds her may be Gamble's only hope of solving this deliciously twisted crime novel in which nothing is what it appears to be. Ellis succeeds masterfully in both playing fair and pulling surprise after surprise in a story that feels like a runaway car plunging down a mountain road full of switchbacks. (Feb.)

Now, doesn't that make you want to grab this book and read it? I've been a fan of Robert Ellis since his incredible DEAD ROOM and now I'm loving his marvelous Lena Gamble series. THE LOST WITNESS is filled with his trademark cliff-hanging chapter endings as well as more twists than any of his previous books combined!!! Grab this book and read about the most complex, bizarre case that Lena has to face to date. See if you can decipher the hidden message of this incredible book. You too will become part of the Robert Ellis growing fan club. Trust me on this!!!
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