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Note to characters in Lisa Gardner books: Avoid the month of November at all costs. Bad things befall characters who dare utter the unlucky month by thought or name. Not convinced? Just ask Rainie Connor and her estranged husband, Pierce Quincy, two of Gardner's most beloved characters, who return this month in the suspense tale Gone. (For more edification, check with Bobby Dodge, the hero of last year's Alone, who also finds death and mayhem in November.)
"As months go, I don't think November has a lot going for it," says Gardner. "The fall is beautiful and Christmas becomes lovely with snow, but November is just ugly."
So it may come as no surprise that when Gone begins, readers learn that the happily ever after they thought Rainie and Quincy were enjoying is not to be, and that Rainie vanishes in a flash, literally, during a November storm. As investigators and Quincy, a former FBI profiler, begin their search, they quickly discover that Rainie has been kidnapped by a man who wants "fame, fortune and apple pie."
Gardner decided to revisit the characters in part because she loves them ("Characters become like your children," she says) and because she wanted to see how time had treated them. "The Killing Hour made me curious, because at the end of the book when we see Rainie and Quincy, they're getting married and adopting a child. They're all poised to ride off into the sunset. But you have to wonder, given their characteristics -- Rainie was abused as a child and killed a man, while Quincy's oldest daughter and ex-wife were murdered by a serial killer -- are they really the right kind of candidates for that kind of suburban, domesticated happily ever after?
"So I started to think about them more and more, and that gave me a great excuse for a very intense story for them," says Gardner. Part of that story involves Rainie sinking to the depths of despair and turning to alcohol for salvation. "She's a person with a very intense background, and there are a lot of things she hasn't dealt with. And one of the things that I have dealt with, as someone who is a new mother, is how much becoming a parent, or thinking about becoming a parent, forces you to think about your past and how you've dealt or not dealt with it. For Rainie there's a lot of unresolved ground."
Indeed, Gone is not for those who love light romances, though lovers of suspense will relish this latest chapter in the Rainie/Quincy saga, which began with The Third Victim and continued in The Killing Hour and The Next Accident.
Gardner, who began her writing career crafting romantic suspense tales for Silhouette Intimate Moments under the name Alicia Scott, credits her early work for helping her to forge a long-standing career. "Writing romances really trains you as an artist, as a writer to consciously create characters people care about," she concludes. "And my goal, then, is for a suspense novel to be true to my romance roots and in every book to bring to life characters readers will deeply, truly care about." -- Faygie Levy
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