Saturday, July 13, 2019

Book Review: Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag

Deeper Than the Dead
Author: Tami Hoag
Series: Oak Knoll (Book 1)
Publication: Dutton; First Edition edition (2010)

Description: A serial killer terrorizes a small California town in this gripping thriller from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Tami Hoag.

California, 1985—Four children and young teacher Anne Navarre make a gruesome discovery: a partially buried female body, her eyes and mouth glued shut. A serial killer is at large, and the very bonds that hold their idyllic town together are about to be tested to the breaking point.

Tasked with finding the killer, FBI investigator Vince Leone employs a new and controversial FBI technique called “profiling,” which plunges him into the lives of the four children—and the young teacher whose need to uncover the truth is as intense as his own.

But as new victims are found and pressure from the media grows, Vince and Anne find themselves circling the same small group of local suspects, unsure if those who suffer most are the victims themselves—or those close to the killer, blissfully unaware that someone very near to them is a murderous psychopath…

My Thoughts: This thriller takes place in Oak Knoll, California, in 1985. There is a serial killer on the loose. His latest victim is discovered by four fifth graders. Tommy Crane and his friend Wendy Morgan are running from class bully Dennis Farman and his sidekick Cody Roache when then fall right into the victim's half-buried body. Since they are near the school, their teacher Anne Navarre joins them to see if she can help.

First on the scene is Frank Farman, Chief Deputy and Dennis's father. He's an old-school chauvinistic cop. Soon it is Tony Mendez who is in charge of trying to solve the crime. He's new school and has attended the FBI course on the new science of crime profiling. He wants to call in the FBI but Chief of Police Cal Dixon doesn't want to create more of sensation than they already have.

When Karly, a women who was at a local facility to help women who are victims on one way or another is reported missing, the director Jane Thomas fears she is the victim. However, she identifies the victim as another woman who had worked closely with the center which means that Karly is still missing.

Now the police chief has no choice but to call in some help. Tony reaches out to his mentor Vince Leone who comes to help. Vince is on the sick list at the FBI because he was shot in the head by a mugger and still has some of the bullet in his brain. He is in almost constant pain and on a number of meds. He also has had a chance to look at his life and decide that he wants to make some changes.

The mystery is quite complex. The suspects happen to be the fathers of the kids who discovered the body. Wendy's dad is the lawyer for the Center and knew two of the victims. Tommy's dad is the dentist who took care of the women at the Center for a reduced rate. Frank Farman is particularly noted for his generous distribution of traffic tickets which are disproportionately given to women and women from the Center particularly.

Each of the men has a variety of secrets and their outward seeming as pillars of the community hides all sorts of issues. Wendy's dad and mom are on the verge of divorce. Tommy's mom is subject to very frightening rages that cause his dad to leave the house frequently. Frank's wife and son are both subjected to his physical abuse.

I enjoyed the relationship that grew between Vince and Anne Navarre who has issues of her own. She lives with her narcissistic father who does nothing but belittle her. She also regrets not completing her schoolwork to become a child psychologist because her mother's death from pancreatic cancer and her last wish leaves her saddled with her ungrateful daughter.

There were twists and turns aplenty in the mystery and at one time or another I was sure that each one of the father's was guilty.

Favorite Quote:
"Talk to his wife," Dixon said, checking his watch. "I told him we have to do this by the book, and no one is more by the book than Frank. He'll deal with it."

Famous last words, Mendez would think later. For the moment it was just one more thing on the endless checklist of a murder investigation.
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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