Title: Deeper Than The Dead
Author: Tami Hoag
Publication Date: December, 2008
Hardcover: 416 pages
Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Description: California, 1984. Three children, running in the woods behind their school, stumble upon a partially buried female body, eyes and mouth glued shut. Close behind the children is their teacher, Anne Navarre, shocked by this discovery and heartbroken as she witnesses the end of their innocence. What she doesn't yet realize is that this will mark the end of innocence for an entire community, as the ties that bind families and friends are tested by secrets uncovered in the wake of a serial killer's escalating activity.
Detective Tony Mendez, fresh from a law enforcement course at FBI headquarters, is charged with interpreting those now revealed secrets. He's using a new technique-profiling-to develop a theory of the case, a strategy that pushes him ever deeper into the lives of the three children, and closer to the young teacher whose interest in recent events becomes as intense as his own.
As new victims are found and the media scrutiny of the investigation bears down on them, both Mendez and Navarre are unsure if those who suffer most are the victims themselves-or the family and friends of the killer, blissfully unaware that someone very close to them is a brutal, calculating psychopath.
My Thoughts: Initially, I contemplated giving up on this book as parts of the story seemed to drag and come to a near standstill as the story seemed to focus on minor supporting characters. I’m glad I stayed with it as the author was able to bring these characters more into the spotlight so that I could see how integral to the story they were. Though my suspicions about the identity of the See No Evil killer proved to be accurate, I was not anticipating several other events involving other characters that were a surprise and disturbing in their level of the sinister and macabre. The story takes place in the early ‘80s when DNA testing is not as common or widely used as it is now. The town soon realizes there is a serial killer loose when it is discovered that another woman has gone missing.
At the center of the story is elementary school teacher, Anne Navarre, who is trying to make sense of the grisly discovery by some of her students of a dead woman. I liked this character. She cares deeply for her students and is very protective of them. We also learn that Anne is living with and caring for her elderly father, a very mean spirited and hateful man. Fortunately, she doesn’t take his crap and is willing to put him in his place when he becomes verbally abusive. Tony Mendez is one of the sheriff’s deputies working the case along with the help of Vince Leone, an FBI agent who specializes in profiling. We also get to see more into the lives of the children, Tommy, Wendy and Dennis. No story would be complete without the addition of detestable characters and this one delivers. I couldn’t stand Tommy’s mother and Dennis’s father.
Though this story dragged in part for me, I am glad I stuck with it because once it kicked into gear, I couldn’t put it down.
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