Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Review of "Secrets To The Grave" [24]

Secrets to the Grave By Tami Hoag
Random House Audio, ISBN 978-0739365830
December 28, 2010

In this, the sequel to Deeper Than the Dead, we are once again back in Oak Knoll, California in the late 1980's and once again police are pursuing the perpetrator of a horrible murder.
Marissa Fordham, a single mother and an artist, is found dead on the floor of her house by a neighbor, stabbed countless time and her body mutilated in a way that suggests both rage and a sexual component. And lying beside her is her four year old daughter, Haley, strangled and left for dead...but the killer did not quite complete the job and Haley has survived.

Also back from the first book are a number of the great characters Hoag introduced there, although after the events of that story, some have made some changes in their lives. Anne, almost the last victim of the See-No-Evil serial killer in the first book, is now married to former FBI profiler Vince Leone, both supporting each other in the repercussions they are dealing with from being victims of violence in the near past. Which makes them, especially Ann, the ideal candidates to understand the terror Haley is experiencing and to take her in while authorities search for any other family she might have, like a mysteriously missing father.
But caring for the only witness to the horrible murder may also put Anne and her little charge in the path of a killer who is not quite done killing yet.

I very much liked the first book in this series and I like this one even a bit more I think. The characters are very well developed, and while I guess you could read this as a standalone, it is a case where it would really be better to read them in order. Everything you need to know about everyone is here, but you will enjoy them more if you have read Deeper Than the Dead. And the characters, I think, are very much at the center of this story, including a number of great local residents that make some very good suspects. The subplots about a very troubled little boy from the first book and about the abduction of Melissa's friend were excellent..very creepy and very engaging.

Now, you know I can't help but point out a problem or two, right?
As in the first book, but thankfully to a lesser degree this time, we get these little discussions among the cops about how lacking is some of the technology available to them in the 80's, calling attention to what year it is, and talking about how much better it will be in the future. True...but totally unrealistic, that cops, or anyone really, would talk like that and it gets a bit annoying. Then there is the issue that always comes up in mysteries set in small towns. Just how many people can get killed before people start thinking it might be time to move? This is one dangerous little place! And once again Anne is personally in danger...again something that can get old very quickly in a series. If the killer has her in his sights in the next book, it will push me over the edge for sure.
But overall, these are small matters and take very little away from what is a very good book. Well written, fast paced, great characters, a good story with just enough red herrings to keep you thinking and guessing...most likely wrongly.

On a totally different matter, I just want to mention that this was the first audiobook that I actually finished and actually enjoyed. It took me awhile to get used to it, I will admit. I kept getting distracted by the accents the reader gave the characters, which often did not agree with how I "pictured" them in my head. Then, I would be distracted by the way she pronounced a certain word, wondering if I was saying it wrong all along..and have to replay the part I just missed.
Ok, maybe I am just too easily distracted. But I will give audios another try because it can be a great use of time, like when you are driving, and maybe I can get through some more books. Of course, since I don't have anymore audio books on hand, they would be new book from the library, which defeats the purpose, doesn't it? Oh was an

My thanks to my local library for this one..even if I meant to request the hardcover rather than the audiobook.


  1. I started out listening to DEEPER THAN THE DEAD in audio and got so involved in the story I went home and dug out my paper copy of the book and finished it in print. My audio listening time is limited and I just couldn't wait.

    I have this one in audio as well and I'm looking forward to it. Did you ever think about listening to books that you've enjoyed in print already? I often listen to well-loved books and that way if I get distracted, I don't lose the storyline. I already know what's coming. :-)

  2. no! I can't 'waste' the time...I have books to read. places to go...TBR piles to chip away...

  3. It does take a little while to get used to listening to audio books. Now that you have, you'll be hooked. I need to check out Hoag's work.

  4. Love your comment about the small towns!! That cracked me up.

    And I am a recent convert to audiobooks. Ive grown to love them and they are the ONLY thing that will get me to do my daily walks. They also make mundane household chores easier too.

  5. the mormon lady's blog that i loved - you know that one? well i think she fell of the face of the earth. she hasn't posted in a month.

  6. I get distracted by audiobooks, period. My mind starts wandering, and next thing I know I've tuned out the audiobook. Not sure if it's been the book or my problem...LOL.

    By the way, I sent you an email. I'm hoping it didn't go to spam!

  7. "audiobooks...they are the ONLY thing that will get me to do my daily walks"...hmmmm...maybe I need to start taking walks.

  8. I am admittedly an audiobook convert, although to retain a little snobbishness about the matter, I do insist on unabridged. ;P

    I've never touched a Hoag book but your review intrigues me. I've been drifting into mystery/thrillers recently and am will keep this author in mind my next big trip to the library.


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