There are a lot of secrets being kept in Oak Knoll, California in Secrets to the Grave, author Tami Hoag’s sequel to last year’s Deeper than the Dead.
Hoag wastes no time plunging the reader into the story, opening the book with a horrific crime scene depicting the aftermath of the brutal knife murder of single mother Marissa Fordham. Her four-year-old daughter, Haley, was also attacked and left for dead, languishing for two days with her mother’s corpse before being discovered.
Detective Tony Mendez is tapped to head up the investigation, and knows from recent experience to make use of a tremendous resource located in town, former FBI Agent Vince Leone, one of the pioneers in the field of behavioral profiling.
Mendez also seeks assistance from child advocate Anne Navarre Leone, herself nearly a victim the previous year of the so-called “See No Evil” killer that plagued Oak Knoll (the case which initially brought her then FBI Agent, now husband Vince Leone to town). Together they must try to help a traumatized child recover and, if possible, provide them with information to help catch her mother’s killer.
As was its predecessor, Secrets to the Grave is set in the mid-80’s, which adds an interesting twist to the reader’s experience. We have all become so accustomed to crime shows on TV showing off the marvels of how modern science assists in solving crimes, we forget that it wasn’t too long ago that concepts such as psychological profiling and DNA identification were either still in their infancy (profiling) or pretty much weren’t on police radar at all (DNA). Nor were computers commonplace in police stations. Secrets to the Grave takes readers back to a time when detectives still had to slog through reams of paperwork by hand and spend all day on the phone in order to track down information that could be found within minutes today by using computers and the internet.
Cell phones were also virtually unheard of, which allows Hoag to put Anne in several “out of touch and in jeopardy” situations that would be hard for an author to believably pull off in today’s society. All of these “old school” conditions make for a refreshing change of pace, especially as Hoag absolutely nails the feel of the time period. From references to Dynasty to Cyndi Lauper to Bartles & Jaymes in the fridge, Hoag’s subtle incorporation of pop culture references paints a vivid picture of small town Oak Knoll at the height of the 80’s.
Which is not to say the mystery gets lost in the scenery. Hoag has conjured up a truly compelling crime and given her investigators – and the reader – an amazingly colorful cast of characters to sift through to get to the truth. And though enough subtle clues are left that a seasoned reader of the genre may potentially guess the killer’s identity prior to the formal reveal, that in no way detracts from the wonderfully tangled web of a story Hoag has woven. Between the clever plot twists, dedicated and determined heroes, and downright Machiavellian residents of Oak Knoll, Secrets to the Grave is a supremely entertaining and engaging mystery.
Secrets to the Grave will be released on December 28th, just in time for you to use one of the Christmas gift cards or some of the holiday cash Santa will surely be bringing you.
– CONTEST: Win Secrets to the Grave and Deeper than the Dead –
Tami Hoag’s publisher, Dutton, has generously provided a copy of both Secrets to the Grave and Deeper than the Dead for me to give to one of my readers. To be entered for a chance to win, just leave a comment below. Be sure to include your email address in the comment form so you can be contacted if you’re the lucky winner! Contest open to U.S./Canada addresses only (no P.O. Boxes), and runs through midnight on December 27, 2010.
Be sure to check out all of Tami’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:
Monday, December 6th: A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, December 7th: Luxury Reading
Wednesday, December 8th: Musings of an All Purpose Monkey
Thursday, December 9th: Under the Boardwalk
Friday, December 10th: Life in Review
Monday, December 13th: The Well-Read Wife
Tuesday, December 14th: My Two Blessings
Wednesday, December 15th: Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Thursday, December 16th: Bewitched Bookworms
Friday, December 17th: Presenting Lenore
Monday, December 20th: Man of La Book
Tuesday, December 21st: I’m Booking It
Wednesday, December 22nd: Rundpinne (Deeper Than the Dead)
Thursday, December 23rd: Rundpinne (Secrets to the Grave)
Monday, December 27th: Reviews by Molly
Monday, January 3rd: Teresa’s Reading Corner
Wednesday, January 5th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Monday, January 10th: Jen’s Book Thoughts