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Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner

(orion Fiction, $38.99)

It’s been a while since I read a creepy thriller so I was particularly looking forward to this one. The verdict? If you want an escape from tranquil Tuscan hilltops or quaint English countrysides, this is the book for you.

Tranquil and quaint, it ain’t. Veteran police detective DD Warren is taking rare time out from hunting down perps and trying to have a date with an accountant called Chip. She’s nearly 40 and possesses a freakish metabolism that enables her to eat like a sumo wrester yet retain her cover girl figure. She has a good set of boobs and blonde hair to boot – but life on Boston PD’s homicide unit doesn’t leave much time for sex.

Not for having it, anyway, although she certainly seems to think about it enough. Before Chip has even got to first base, however – and his chances are looking pretty good – DD gets paged. An entire family has been murdered and worse, they’re not going to be the only ones.

Within the next two days two more families have been slaughtered. The link in all these grisly deaths? All three families had a child who spent time in a locked-down paediatric psych ward. As DD moves in to this isolated hospital facility, the plot thickens, and the murderer moves among them.

She might make jokes about boinking men and eating pasta but this is pretty heavy stuff. The disturbed children in this fictional story are dangerous to say the least. They plot to kill their siblings, their parents and their pets.

In the author’s note at the back of the book, Lisa Gardner thanks good friends who have such a troubled kid and who helped her with her research. They wanted to share their story, she says, in the hope of getting a little understanding for mentally ill children and their often overwhelmed caregivers.

If you fancy a gripping read that curls your toes, read this, you’ll love it, but be warned, it’s not a book for sensitive parents of naughty children.

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