BOOK REVIEW: DEAD WEIGHT (LIZZY GARDNER, #2)

Dead-Weight-TR-RaganDEAD WEIGHT (Lizzy Gardner, #2)

Author: T. R. Ragan
Published on: July 17, 2012
Genre:
Mystery, suspense

Published by: Thomas & Mercer
Format: E-book, paperback, Audible

Private investigator Lizzy Gardner knows a thing or two about living in the past. As a teenager, she was terrorized by a serial killer, an ordeal that haunted her for more than a decade before the maniac was finally stopped. So when terminally ill Ruth Fullerton begs Lizzy to reopen the cold case into her daughter’s disappearance, it’s hard to say no. More than twenty years have passed since Carol Fullerton vanished, abandoning her car by the side of a California freeway. The police wrote her off as a runaway, yet something tells Lizzy the truth isn’t so simple…

Carol’s cold case has barely begun to thaw when Andrea Kramer shows up at Lizzy’s door. Andrea’s sister, Diane, has been missing for months, and she’s convinced a charismatic weight-loss guru—part Tony Robbins and part Richard Simmons—is responsible. Diane was obese, but could her obsession with losing weight have led to her disappearance?

As if two active missing persons cases weren’t enough, Lizzy is also trying to manage her two teenage assistants, including one as wounded and haunted by her past as Lizzy.

Fast-paced and deftly plotted, this impressive follow-up to the best-selling Abducted finds Sacramento PI Lizzy Gardner in over her head—but more determined than ever to help those no one else will.

REVIEW

Another hit from T.R. Ragan! Dead Weight finds protagonist/PI Lizzy Gardner on a brand new case. Young women have been disappearing mysteriously, and the sister of one of them has enlisted Lizzy’s services. This takes the young and fearless Lizzy on a quest to find clues as to who’s behind the alleged kidnappings. The case leads her to enroll in the class of a celebrated nutrition and fitness expert, who is also a person of interest. After reading the title of the novel, I’d expected the criminal to be a sadist who kidnaps women and leaves them starving, but that is not the case.

This time around, Lizzy has sidekicks to help her. They were both introduced in Abducted. The first one is the assistant that I became most familiar with after finishing the first book. Jessica Pleiss is as driven and thirsty to prove herself as ever. She’s smart, though a bit prone to landing herself in dangerous situations. Jessica also seems to have the same reluctance to bend rules and laws that Jemma Simmons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has. She’s still quite resourceful, and an asset to Lizzy. Hayley Hansen, on the other hand, is going through an internal struggle. She’s finding herself unable to stop her dark side from taking over, a dark side that is the result of Hayley’s very rough past. These two girls are polar opposites, but they still like each other. Hayley is the kind of character with angel looks but a tough interior. She will not hesitate to kick anyone’s butt if needed. Oh, and she carries knives around. Don’t write her off, though. Hayley, deep inside, is a good person. She’s just had a lot of dreadful things happen to her. Not even Lizzy’s own past is so bleak.

There are more plot threads woven throughout Dead Weight, but they don’t weigh the book down. We get to learn more about the relationship between Lizzy and her sister, Cathy Warner. They attend Anthony Melbourne’s (the fitness guy) together, because Lizzy didn’t want to feel lonely among the other students. Lizzy isn’t too fond of Cathy’s abusive husband, though. Lizzy also spends time with her niece. Brittany Warner was introduced in Abducted, where she played a key role. She and Hayley became friends after going through a tough experience. The latter is now living at the Warner’s. Hayley sneaks out at night often. No one knows what she’s up to.

Lizzy and her boyfriend, Jared Shayne, also grow closer. The two love each other. As an FBI agent, Jared often has to go away on operations. Lizzy wishes they spent more time together, although her cases keep her busy. I hope this couple gets a HEA. It would be a breath of fresh air for Lizzy’s troubled life.

This book was just as riveting as its predecessor. I recommend it to those who like to read about mysteries/whodunits with a bit of romance thrown in. The characters seem more fleshed-out this time around, especially Hayley. We didn’t see much of her in book one. An issue I had with Dead Weight is that the villain seems slightly lame. This villain felt to me the way Aldrich Killian felt to most audiences in Iron Man 3. Their motivations are born from resent, but they didn’t shine much. Dead Weight‘s villain was also somewhat careless, so he/she isn’t the brightest opponent Lizzy Gardner has met. Lizzy isn’t without her flaws, either. She’s a great lead, and she’s brave, but there are a few things about Lizzy that test my patience. One is her commitment issues. She also over-thinks stuff now and then. I think Lizzy needs to learn a bit of Hayley’s self confidence. Nevertheless, Lizzy Gardner is someone to admire and look up to. Dead Weight may be my least favorite book in the series so far, but don’t let that keep you from giving it a chance. You’ll enjoy reading it.

MY RATING

Seriously liked it!

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