Detective D.D. Warren is back, but this time she is definitely not at the top of her game. Pain — its existence or lack thereof — plays a unique role in this hypnotic story. The plot has a deadly edge as the daughters of a serial killer get caught in the web of a new killer. When it comes to delivering riveting, complex female protagonists, Gardner is in a class by herself.
While returning to a murder scene after dark, Boston detective D.D. Warren hears a low crooning shortly before she is shoved down the stairs. Left with a horrifically painful and slow-healing shoulder injury, D.D. has no clear memory of what happened. To help manage her pain, D.D. works with Dr. Adeline Glen, whose own rare genetic disorder means she is incapable of feeling pain. When the Rose Killer strikes again, D.D. learns there is a connection to Adeline’s family: Her deceased biological father and incarcerated sister, Shana, are infamous killers and, even in solitary, Shana appears to have knowledge of the Rose Killer. Shana will share, but for a price. D.D. survived her first encounter with this killer, but will she a second time? (DUTTON, Jan., 400 pp., $27.95)