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Love You More Hardcover – March 8, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 631 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the Tessa Leoni Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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?
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 . . .

Guest Reviewer: Joseph Finder

Joseph Finder planned to become a spy. Or maybe a professor of Russian history. Instead he became a bestselling thriller writer, and winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel for Killer Instinct and winner of the Barry and Gumshoe Awards for Best Thriller for Company Man.

I just took a break from writing my new book to read the latest by Lisa Gardner, who's one of the very few writers on my must-read list. Usually, when I'm deep into a novel, I read very little in the genre. But Lisa Gardner sent me an advance copy of Love You More, and I pretty much dropped everything and read it through the weekend.

I've been a fan of Lisa's D.D. Warren series for some time, but she's truly outdone herself with this one. It grabs you on the first page and keeps you guessing until the final chapter, moving effortlessly between first person and third person narration, weaving an extraordinary amount of research into nonstop action.

Love You More starts with a crime we think we understand. Massachusetts State Trooper Tessa Leoni's husband Brian is dead in their kitchen, and Trooper Leoni has been beaten almost to death. It looks to everyone like a case of a battered wife defending herself at last. But Leoni's six-year-old daughter, Sophie, is missing, and the trooper's story is full of holes--holes that become even wider and more curious as Boston Police Detective Sergeant D.D. Warren and her old lover, friend and former partner Bobby Dodge investigate.

Warren is dealing with issues of her own, as her relationship with Alex (who never appears in person in this installment) reaches a major turning point, one with implications for Warren's investigation and beyond. (I'm not going to give away what that is. You'll have to read it to find out for yourself.) The nature and power of Trooper Leoni's attachment to her daughter are central to this story: just how much does Leoni love her daughter, and to what lengths will she go to protect her? Is it possible that a mother so devoted could kill her own child?

As Warren and Dodge follow the trail of clues, they uncover secrets at every turn: a terrible crime in Leoni's adolescence, a shameful secret of her husband's, and unimaginable betrayal among comrades and friends. Stakes escalate to a climax that is shocking, sad and deeply satisfying.

Love You More stands out in the crowded field of thrillers not only because it's a terrific book, but because it features two compelling and believable female protagonists. Trooper Leoni tells us her own story in the first person, alternating with the third-person narrative of Warren's investigation. Leoni's motives emerge over the course of the book, but her passion and conviction draw us in even before we know whether she's guilty or innocent. We cannot argue with her absolute drive, even as we root for Warren and Dodge to make sure justice is done. It's a remarkable juggling act that requires rare talent, and readers will be anxious for the next installment in D.D. Warren's adventures.

I've noticed that a lot of guys have some kind of prejudice against thrillers written by women. Take my word for it: Lisa Gardner has the suspense chops to compete with Harlan Coben, Lee Child, and Michael Connelly. Anyone who's already read Tess Gerritsen, Karin Slaughter, Sandra Brown, or Mary Higgins Clark knows that some of the most gripping thrillers around are written by women.

If you haven't yet discovered Lisa Gardner, now's the perfect time to start. Love You More is going to win her a legion of new fans and launch her right to the top of the lists along with Nora Roberts and Tami Hoag--and Stieg Larsson.

A Letter from Author Lisa Gardner

True confession time: for a woman who makes her living writing extremely diabolical suspense novels, I have no stomach for gore. Scary movies? Can’t watch them. Most of the crime shows on prime time? Egads, no way! Haunted houses? My husband has had to carry me out. It’s embarrassing but true.

So when I first received the invitation to conduct research at the famed Body Farm at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, I didn’t know what to do with myself. As a forensics aficionado and thriller author, I just had to visit. A chance to learn first-hand how to search for buried remains? Or how to establish time of death for skeletal remains? Or the amount of forensic evidence that can still be retrieved from cremated bones? Sign me up!

On the other hand, this would involve walking the fabled Death’s Acre, which generally features several hundred decomposing bodies. I had to consider not just what I was going to see, but what I was going to smell, touch, feel. The squeamish mom in me worried I wouldn’t be able to take it. And no one wants to be the one who barfs in front of trained professionals.

What’s a girl gonna do? Of course I went.

The Anthropological Research Facility, aka the Body Farm, was founded in the early ‘80s by Dr. William Bass. Up until then, the discovery of decomposed remains often led to a time of death plus or minus several years. Obviously, this complicated the homicide investigation. Dr. Bass’s solution: bury a body, see how long it took to skelatonize, and scientifically establish a rate of decomp.

Of course, many variables immediately came into play: buried or unburied, clothed or clothed, hot humid conditions, cold frosty conditions, animal activity, insect activity, etc., etc. In the end, Dr. Bass couldn’t bury one body, he needed hundreds. Some donations were unclaimed remains from the ME’s office. Hundreds of others are directed donations from people who wanted to contribute to the advancement of science after their death.

This kind of generosity makes Death’s Acre less a macabre wooded plot and more like hallowed ground. Instead of listening to anthropologists merely analyze body parts, I heard stories of people and families, of victims and criminal prosecutions, of crafty murderers and even craftier forensics experts. I learned of stories told in bone.

Interestingly enough, the more the head anthropologist Dr. Lee Jantz humanized the remains we studied, the more bearable I found the sights and smells to be. When I cradled the feather-light cranial plate of a newborn infant in my hand, I could both marvel as its rose petal size and feel the weight of one parent’s heart-breaking contribution. I was both mesmerized by the skeleton collection, which took up endless rows of metal shelves, and amazed by how a scientist such as Dr. Jantz could pick up a single piece of cremated bone and tell you the person’s gender, approximate age, chronic health conditions and probable occupation.

Bones, I learned, aren’t just body parts, but an organic record of who we are, what we did, where we lived, and often, how we died. And in the right hands, bones allow the dead to speak. Think a murderer can cover his tracks with a burn barrel and lighter fluid? Think again. Think you can thwart time of death by freezing remains? Nope. Think you can get away with murder? Thanks to forensic anthropologists such as Dr. Jantz, not likely.

I came to the Body Farm expecting to be immersed in death, and instead, found a new appreciation for life. And while my family still refuses to let me tell stories about my research over dinner, I had a great time working with the anthropologists on my March 2011 release Love You More. Just remember, when you come to the key scene in the snowy woods—you’ll know which one I’m talking about—I worked for that scene.

I walked Death’s Acre, and I never threw up.

From Publishers Weekly

Near the start of Thriller Award–winner Gardner's gripping fifth novel featuring Boston PD Sgt. Det. D.D. Warren (after Live to Tell), D.D.'s former partner and one-time lover, Det. Bobby Dodge, of the Massachusetts State Police, asks her to look into what appears to be a clear-cut homicide case. The evidence suggests that Tessa Leoni, a state trooper colleague of Bobby's, shot and killed her abusive husband, Brian Darby, who may have kidnapped her six-year-old daughter, Sophie. But Tessa won't talk about her bruises, her husband, or what might have happened to her child. D.D. examines every detail about the family, while Tessa uses her skills to manipulate the investigation. From Tessa's point of view, we learn about her and Brian's courtship, his affection for Sophie, and how the marriage began to disintegrate. Gardner sprinkles plenty of clues and inventive twists to keep readers off-kilter as the suspense builds to a realistic, jaw-dropping finale. Author tour. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (March 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553807250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553807257
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (631 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In Lisa Gardner's "Love You More," Tessa Leoni has a great deal on her plate. She has been a Massachusetts state trooper for four years and has a beautiful six-year-old daughter, Sophie, whose father's name Tessa does not even know. Leoni has an inner toughness that she will desperately need as she faces an uncertain future. Her husband of three years and Sophie's stepfather, Brian Darby, has been shot to death, and the evidence points to Tessa as the perpetrator. Worse, Tessa's little girl, Sophie, has disappeared. The detectives soon suspect that not only did Tessa gun down her husband in cold blood, but that she also killed and buried her daughter.

Handling the case is Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren, a forty-year old, ten-year veteran of the Boston Police Department. Assisting is Bobby Dodge, her former lover, who is a Massachusetts State Police Detective. D. D. is married to her job; she is sharp, aggressive, and ambitious, qualities that she shares with Tessa. Nevertheless, she has contempt for Leoni, whom she considers to be a conniving and selfish monster. D. D. is determined to nail this pretty and petite woman and put her away for a very long time. On the home front, D. D. has been dating Alex, a teacher at the police academy, for over six months. She is not sure if she has the temperament to make their relationship last.

Lisa Gardner, whose fans are legion, is the undisputed queens of the domestic thriller. The reasons for her popularity include: tough heroines who are even more macho than their male counterparts; byzantine plots in which the truth is carefully veiled; gripping scenes of suspense and violence; and conclusions that always include an extra, unforeseen twist.
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Lisa Gardner is one of my favorite authors, and I always await the release of her new book with great impatience. This wonderful writer never disappoints! In my opinion of a fan who has read every single one of her fascinating, very professionally written books, LOVE YOU MORE is definitely Gardner's best so far. She is at the height of her creative career, and I'm very excited to see how each new book is even better than the previous one.

LOVE YOU MORE features D.D.Warren, one of the most convincing protagonists of a mystery and suspense series I have ever encountered. D.D. is going through a complex stage in her personal life (don't worry, there will be no spoilers in this review.) Her inner turmoil makes the case of the trooper Tessa Leoni that she gets assigned touch her on a very personal level. If at first Trooper Leoni's case seems a clear-cut situation of spousal abuse turned violent, it soon becomes clear that things are a lot more complex that we might have believed initially. There were many points in the text where I thought, 'Oh, I know what happened!" only to realize that, yet again, I failed to guess completely where the novel was going.

Gardner's writing is great because it always draws you in from the very first pages. LOVE YOU MORE does not contain a single page that is either boring or redundant. Gardner is not one of those writers who pad there books with lots of boring, irrelevant details and descriptions in order to create a bulkier novel. Every word she writes matter. Every scene is to the point. Every character contributes something to the plot development. Gardner is also great at maintaining suspense from the first page to the last.

If you are still considering whether to read this book, my advice is to get it as soon as you can. You will not be sorry as you will enjoy it immensely.
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First of all, I'm a great Lisa Gardner fan and am impatient for her next book before I finish one. However, I wish Lisa (and many other popular authors) would occasionally veer away from the series-type books. Sometimes it's like walking into the middle of a movie. I always feel that I should start with the first book so I'll understand all the references to the past. And as much as I enjoy revisiting a familiar character, I'm enough of a romantic that I'd like to see some characters solve the mystery, get the bad guy, and find their happy ending. Plus, dragging out a relationship for three or more volumes completely sucks the passion out of it.

I realize that series books practically guarantee future sales, but can we get a stand-alone in between? Please?
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I love Lisa's books and my love continues and may have even grown after reading Love You More. This is one spine-tingling book. First thing I love, the chapters alternate from D.D. Warren and her partner for this book (and familiar partner through this series), Bobby Dodge and the State Police Officer accused of murdering her husband, Tessa Leoni. This made the book very gripping because I would get to an interesting break that D.D. and Bobby would make and the next chapter would either give me more insight into Tessa or show what she was going through at the moment. This method of alternating chapters does a marvelous job weaving both stories together in an amazing way.

I love D.D. as a character. She's tough and she's a great detective but she's still trying to figure out where she fits in life and this book offers up a new surprise in her personal life. I liked this and liked seeing how D.D. approached things a little different and changed some during this book. Bobby is there through the book and I liked seeing him again and his insights that help D.D. are always great now that he is settled down and has a child. Tessa made an intriguing character and I quickly learned to let all my assumptions about her go because as soon as I assumed something, Ms. Gardner did a nice surprise twist and I learned something new about her. At times I didn't like her, some times I understood her and sometimes I learned to like her. All-in-all, she makes a great character addition to Love You More and I enjoyed learning her story piece-by-piece.

As for the plot - just amazing. As I mentioned before, as soon as I assumed something, I learned something different. The twists and turns are just mind-boggling, but they make sense when you think about them.
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