Friday, February 25, 2011

Deeper Than the Dead

Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag
Penguin Group, October 2010
Paperback , 560 pages
ISBN-13: 9780451230539
Highly Recommended

California, 1985. Four children and a 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 whether 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:

Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag is a mystery/thriller set in 1985. A serial killer is on the loose in Oak Knoll, California, at a time when many modern technological advances, such as computer data bases and identification by DNA, were not available for police departments in their investigations. At this time the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit was in its early days and profiling was a new technique.

Even though the title Deeper Than the Dead refers to the sub-basement location of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, the focus of the novel is not the FBI's BSU, but the investigation in California. Ready to retire FBI profiler, Vince Leone, travels to Oak Knoll to help Tony Mendez, a young detective who had attended the FBI's National Academy where he met Leone and learned about profiling. Involved in the story of the investigation are also four fifth graders who discovered the latest body, their families, and their teacher, Anne Navarre. In an unexpected love connection, Vince and Anne are attracted to each other after they meet.

Early on Hoag gives us several likely suspects. While astute mystery readers may narrow it down rather quickly and guess who the killer is, the action is fast paced and the suspense builds beautifully, ensuring you will keep reading the story. What helped with this is that Hoag did a very nice job in all of her characterizations, especially with the four children. I was not only interested in the investigation, but also in the characters.

There were a few flaws. Hoag made it a point to open up the novel with an author's note to make it clear that the novel was set in the mid 1980's, but there were a few things in the book that wouldn't have happened at that time. (I was definitely an adult at that time.) For example I don't think the term "skankopotamus" was in usage and the term "person of interest" was also not widely used in law enforcement. Anne's friend Franny was a bit too flamboyant for a kindergarten teacher in a small town in 1985. My only other complaint would be the loose ends left when the story ended. (I'm hoping they are cleared up in the next novel, Secrets to the Grave.)
Highly Recommended

Disclosure: I received this copy from the publisher.


My hero is my dad. He is a great person. He works hard, is nice to everyone, and tries to help people.
His victim would have screamed if she could have. He had seen to it she could not open her mouth. There would have been terror in her eyes. He had made certain she could not open them. He had rendered her blind and mute, making her the perfect woman. Beautiful. Seen and not heard. Obedient. He had immobilized her
so she could not fight him. opening

She had to respect him now. She had no choice. The power was all his. In this game, he always won. He had stripped away all of her pretense, the mask of beauty, to reveal the plain raw truth: that she was nothing, and he was God.
It was important for her to know that before he killed her. pg. 2

Slowly Tommy pushed himself up on his hands and knees. The ground he was on had been turned over recently. It smelled like earth and wet leaves, and something else he couldn’t name. It was soft and damp, and crumbly like someone had dug it up with a shovel. Like someone had buried something . . . or somebody.
His heart jumped into the back of his throat as he raised his head. . . and came face to face with death. pg. 8

Tommy stood well back from the deputies who had come with yellow crime scene tape to mark off the area around the shallow grave. He should have been home by now. His mother was going to be really mad. pg. 11

Anne Navarre felt herself shaking inside as she walked away from Frank Farman and the crime scene her students had stumbled upon - shaking from the shock of what she had just seen, shaking with anger at Frank Farman. pg. 14

"This is the third victim in two years."
"It's the second."
"In our jurisdiction. The second vic was in the next county, but it's the same perp. Same MO, same signature." pg. 23

"Why are we watching this? You know I hate the news at ten o'clock. The only people who think the news should be on at ten live in Kansas and have to be in bed by ten thirty so they can get up at dawn and watch the corn grow." pg. 28

Anne had been a quiet child, a watcher. She had taken in everything that had gone on around her, processed it, and kept her conclusions to herself.
She recognized those same qualities in Tommy Crane. He tended to stand back a little from those around him, taking in their moods and actions, reacting accordingly. pg. 33


samantha.1020 said...

I read this one myself not to long ago and really enjoyed it. Hoag is an author I go to when I'm in the mood for a good suspenseful thriller and I'm really looking forward to the sequel. Great review!

Lori L said...

I just finished the sequel and it is great!