02/01/2013 10:00 am ET Updated Apr 03, 2013

Touch and Go Is Not Up to Gardner's Standards

Lisa Gardner is a very talented writer of mystery thrillers. Each of her previous novels have shown growth in her writing skills. However her latest novel, Touch and Go, is a slight step backwards. The reason for this is threefold: (1) Detective D. D. Warren, the popular heroine of her previous novels, only makes a cameo appearance in this book (2) Tessa Leoni who was one of the standout character's in Gardner's innovative novel Love You More has only a supporting role (3) The focus is on the Denbe family, particularly the wife and mother Libby, and they just aren't that interesting.

The book concerns the kidnapping of the Denbe family. The family consists of Justin, the father and husband; Libby, the mother and wife; Ashlyn, the 15-year-old daughter. They live in Boston and are abducted by mask-wearing men who take them to a remote location. Each of the Denbes has a secret in his or her life, and as time passes these secrets rise to the front of their situation.

Justin owns and operates a huge construction business. Money is obviously the reason for kidnapping him. Libby and Ashlyn appear to have been taken to help keep him in line until ransom demands are met. The main focus of the book is on the Denbes and how they are treated at the hands of the kidnappers. In doing this, Gardner goes inside the head of Libby Denbe and gives us her version of events over and over and over. It is repetitive and it is a bit dull.

Tessa Leoni is a private investigator for the insurance company that provides coverage for Justin Denbe. When the attention is on her and the investigative efforts the book is much more enjoyable. If Gardner had provided more of a balance of information concerning the investigation and matched it with what was going on inside the kidnapping location the book might have been a better read.

Gardner is a talented writer who knows how to create twisting plots that end with effective resolutions. Still, she needs to know where to keep her focus. In Touch and Go, it is on the Denbes and that is a mistake. The Denbes are in a restrained setting while the investigators have free reign to move about. Watching them solve the case is much more intriguing than learning all the flaws in the Denbe marriage.

Gardner's fans will enjoy this book to be sure, but it is definitely not up to the high standard she created with the much more involving Love You More.

Touch and Go is published by Dutton. It contains 400 pages and sells for $26.95.