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on February 23, 2007
"The Survivors Club", first published in 2002, is the fifth novel Lisa Gardner has published under her own name. She has also published thirteen other novels under the name "Alicia Scott".
It's a big day in Providence : Eddie Como, more widely known as the College Hill Rapist, is about to face trial. Nobody seems to be expecting anything other than a guilty verdict - details of the evidence are fairly sketchy in the early part of the book, though it appears his DNA was found at the scenes of the attacks. When Como is killed on his way to the courthouse, it's hard to see too many people being upset. When the assassin is killed immediately afterwards, however, it leaves two murders needing investigated.
The immediate assumption in certain quarters is that the Survivors Club - Jillian Hayes (a hardworking, polished, educated businesswoman who looks after her mother), Carol Rosen (a blue-eyed blonde socialite who lives in a mansion and does a lot of good work for charity) and Meg Pesaturo (the sweet, beautiful nineteen year old, whose big brown eyes send men weak at the knees) - had something to do with it. All three had survived attacks by the College Hill Rapist, although Jillian's sister wasn't so lucky. The three had held regular press conferences together, in an attempt to pressurise the police into pushing forward with the case. Nevertheless, it was always clear that Jillian was very much in control.
Meanwhile, Detective Sergeant Roan Griffen is facing his first day back on duty with Rhode Island's Statement Police Department in eighteen months. Griffen, a widower, wasn't a vacation but rather on an enforced period of medical leave - the investigation into the Candy Man Case had left him a little `twitchy'. He's a little nervous about his first day back, and still raw about his wife's death. Naturally, before he's even made it to the police station, he's assigned to a certain very high-profile double murder.
"The Survivors Club" was something of a disappointment to me : even though this is only the second book by Gardner I've read, I already know she's capable of much better. There was an odour of laziness about the story - the more I read, the more it became a very ordinary thriller-by-numbers. There was absolutely nothing original about Griffen (the tragic cop who has seen "the true nature of the abyss") or Jillian Hayes (the hard-nosed control freak you just KNOW is hiding a heart of gold) - together, they form a pair of clichés you could find in any lazy thriller anywhere. The identity of the villain came as no surprise whatsoever, and when the final confrontation came I was half-expecting a shout of "If it wasn't for those pesky kids...". Very ordinary overall.