Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Review of "Down The Darkest Road" [80]

Down The Darkest Road by Tami Hoag
Dutton Adult, ISBN 978-0525952398
December 27, 2011, 448 pages

Four years ago, in 1986, Lauren Lawton's life fell apart, a mother's worse nightmare became her reality.
Her oldest daughter, 16 year old Leslie, disappeared and was assumed kidnapped. To this day they do not know if she in dead or alive. Police even had a suspect, Roland Ballencoa, but they could never prove he was responsible. Shortly after, her husband Lance, unable to deal with what had happened, killed himself. And still the man she believed guilty for all this walks the streets, free.

Finally, Lauren takes her younger daughter Leah and moves to a new town, Oak Knoll, California. They both need a fresh start in a place where everyone does not know every detail of what happened and where everyone does not look at them with pity. Lauren is still dealing with her demons, not too successfully, but Leah has a summer job she loves, working at a stable and she has made a friend, Wendy, who readers of the two previous books in this series will remember has had to deal with her own personal issues. Finally it seems that at least Leah will be able to start rebuilding a normal life and maybe get the help she needs.

Until Lauren goes to the supermarket one day and sees a man in the aisle, a man that she sees in her nightmares every night, Roland Ballencoa. He is back and maybe Leah will be his next victim!

Back from the previous books....Deeper Than The Dead and Secrets of the Grave are all our favorites characters..Anne and her now husband, former FBI profiler Vince Leone and local Sheriff Deputy Tony Mendez. That is the good news. The bad news is that the most interesting of those folks, Anne and Vince, play only a very minor role in this book. Mendez is at the center of this one, which is fine...along with the mother Lauren, which is not that fine. Lauren is not a terribly likable person. Yes, she has suffered a terrible loss, but as she is being consumed by her grief and anger she is ignore her other daughter and missing what is happening to her. And Hoag uses the technique of having Lauren writing a journal about what happened, which we get to read as she is writing it. It works in giving us the in giving us the background of what happened but just become annoying as once more we must read about her grief. Ok, we get it and there is really no need to go on, page after page.

This is a pretty good book, but whereas I really like the first two, this one was just OK. The plot was interesting enough with a nice twist, but I would have been happy with hearing a lot less about Lauren's inner thoughts. Too much inner angst and not enough happening for my taste. Since this is a series that really should be read in order, I suggest you just go out and grab the first two, which I think you will really, really like and then decide whether to skip this one or not.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a review copy of this book.


  1. Thanks for the advice to read the first two before this one. I'm not a Tami fan but TBG is.

  2. I read one of Hoag's novels a long time ago and I guess it wasnt memorable since I cant recall the title and it was the only one I ever read of her's. I saw today that Carol O'Connell has a new one coming out .. I adore her heroine Mallory .. I am glad she didnt end the series with the last book .. have you read the others, I highly recommend them.

  3. Oh, I don't like all that internal conflict either, but Hoag is an author I really want to try.

  4. I was a big Hoag-ite way back in my most fervent murder mystery days. And I just got tired of her formula, which was so insanely predictable. Good news, as it seems she has broken the mold from those days, but too bad she couldn't create a more compelling protagonist.

  5. this series does not follow a formula, for which I am thankful, Oh I so hate when a successful author falls back on a predicable formula.

    but sadly this one just does not stand up to the other two.

  6. I see what you're saying, Caite, but I like Mendez. And, instead of focusing on Lauren, who was frustrating, I focused on poor Leah. She was the character that stood out for me. And, I really knew that twist about halfway through the book, so the suspense wasn't even there for me. I just wanted to see what happened with Leah.


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