Never Tell

By Lisa Gardner. (Dutton. 512 pages, $9.99 paperback.)


Three strong women. A murdered husband. Lifetimes of lies and betrayals.

Lisa Gardner’s Flora Dane and Detective D.D. Warren series continues in “Never Tell,” now out in paperback, as the Boston investigator and the survivor of abduction and assault work on a puzzling crime together that touches each of them personally.

Flora, hardened and obsessively trained in self-defense, now is a police informant, psychologically dialed in to crimes involving any kind of abuse, kidnapping or victimization of women. She was in college when she was drugged and snatched off a Florida beach by serial abuser Jacob Ness. Now he’s dead. And as a survivor, she’s out to avenge.

D.D., a no-nonsense detective, balances work (poorly) with a rambunctious toddler and an adoring husband who’s a federal specialist in crime-scene splatter and helps her on cases in lieu of pillow talk.

Enter Evie Carter. She’s from a wealthy Boston family scarred by the mysterious death of her father 16 years earlier. But she has grown, married Conrad and is now finally pregnant with their much-wanted child. Then she’s found standing over his bullet-riddled body holding a gun.

Flora, D.D. and Evie are soon colliding in an investigation that enters the dark web, where anybody can be anyone and money can buy anything. And we meet a charming (psychopathic?) computer geek who’s into true crime investigations … and definitely Flora.

Gardner knows how to light a fuse and let it burn down slowly. She has about five fuses burning as the novel wraps up. And her explosions are never a disappointment.

Readers would enjoy “Find Her,” the gritty but fascinating origin of the Flora Dane character, but Gardner’s sequel satisfies on its own.