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Book Talk: Lisa Gardner, ‘Say Goodbye’

Before you begin reading this novel by Lisa Gardner, check on the kids. Assuming that everything is okay, get some cinderblocks and cement and build very high walls around them. Then, get a shovel and dig a moat around the wall. Pull a hose over to the moat and fill it. Introduce a school of hungry sharks to the moat. Erect a barbed-wire fence on both sides of the moat. Finally, cover the whole complex with a steel dome, making sure that there is adequate ventilation. Of course, ventilation ducts should have heavy steel bars running through them. Oh, and a system of fine screens to keep spiders out.

Gardner’s “Say Goodbye” (2009, 446 pages in paperback format) is one of the most disturbing books that I’ve read. I’d put it in the same category as Thomas Harris’ “Red Dragon.” Okay, maybe a little notch below Harris. Gardner’s work is a bit more centered on the fate of children. (I realize that many readers may not be familiar with Harris’ work, and I’m thinking about devoting a month or maybe a bit more each year to reviewing some of my favorite novels from the second half of the twentieth century.)

It’s difficult to review books like these because the reviewer can’t say, “It was an enjoyable read” or “I loved this story.” Like Harris’ thriller, Gardner has written a novel that makes you want to get up and check the locks on your doors every time you start a new chapter.



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