Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Review of "Deeper Than the Dead" [4]

Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag
Signet, ISBN 978-0451230539
October 26, 2010, 560 pages

Nothing in her training prepared fifth-grade teacher Anne Navarre for how to help her students deal with what happened that day. Tommy Crane and his friend Wendy Morgan were running through the park to escape the class bully when Tom tripped and fell down a small hill, landing on top of a dead body. It is the body of a missing young woman, buried up to her neck, her eyes and mouth sealed shut with super glue. In 1985, it does seem that quiet Oak Knoll, California is the sort of place where this kind of thing happens. But when you look a little deeper it seems that everything in Oak Knoll may not be quite as placid as it first seems. Even in the families of the children involved.

The sheriff's department does not want to believe that a serial killer may be loose in their community but they can't deny it when it is found that this may be his third victim. When another woman is discovered to be missing, the urgency only increases and Detective Tony Mendez is a new breed of cop, willing to take advantage of all the cutting edge technology he can to solve the crime. Help comes in the person of FBI agent Vince Leone, one of the government's new criminal profilers. Leone, barely back to active duty after his own near death attack, may not be firing on all cylinders but he is still the best hope they have of discovering what fine, upstanding citizen may be a murderous psychopath. And maybe save the next victim in the killer's sights, a victim whose identity will touch very close to home.

Ok, I guessed who the killer was, even with the many red herrings thrown in the reader's path. But that is not necessarily a bad thing, because the ride there was a good one. Good characters, several of whom appear in Hoag's next book, a good setting, a good story, good writing and a grisly serial killer, all concluding with an exciting climax and a sad, disturbing twist...what's not to like?

Ok, there may be a thing or two.

The books takes place a few decades ago, before the advent of national databases of fingerprints and before DNA identification was available. But really, it becomes a bit disconcerting to be told that again and again. I really do not think police departmentals sit around thinking, "golly, if we only had...." whatever technology the future may bring...because it does not exist yet.  Odd, unnecessary and rather annoying.

But a small matter in what is otherwise a good solid thriller, with a bit of romance and a sometimes disturbing look at what may reside just below the surface of that seeming nice, quiet, successful family living just next door.
Certainly good enough to make me look forward to check out the sequel, Secrets to the Grave that was released in December.

My thanks to Library Things Early Reviewers for my copy of this book.


  1. There is a lot of bemoaning the lack of technology in the sequel too. I was also really bothered by it.

  2. There are a couple of things that really get under my skin with murder mysteries. One is the whining about the lack of technology. The other is when they lecture me about forensics 101. Please. Give us some credit. Hoag usually does write a tight novel though. So no strong woman/bad boy romances in here?

  3. Lenore, I am sorry to hear that. I will most likely read it, but still, I could do with out that...it felt so artificial.

    Sandy, there was a strong woman/injured man romance. I am not sure if he is bad...lol

  4. Can you imagine falling over a dead body like that? By the way, the worst dead body encounter I read lately was in the 3rd of the Mistress of the Art of Death series. Very very gross!

  5. I read and reviewed this one last year. I liked it a lot, but now that you mention it.....

    I started reading the sequel a couple of weeks ago and I guess it just wasn't the right time for me. I've put it aside for now and will go back to it after a while. I suspect I will enjoy it, but sometimes things just don't click right away. I really like this set of characters though.

  6. {{off to check out this Mistress of the Art of Death series...}} :-)

    Kay, good characters are very important and can often rescue an otherwise so-so book.

  7. I keep hearing a lot about Tami Hoag - she sounds like an author I need to try.

  8. I've never read anything by this author, but perhaps I'll try. I'm sure I wouldn't have figured out the killer ... I'm always taking the red herring bait and getting fooled.


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