Reviewed by Krista C.
Tami Hoag’s second installment in the Deeper Than the Dead “micro” series is suspenseful from front to back. I thought I’d figured out the ‘who-done-it’ multiple times as I read through the book but it wasn’t until the last twenty pages or so that I settled on my final culprit. I read lots of mysteries, so it was nice to find one that kept me guessing. Usually I’ve figured out the solution much earlier than I did in this book.
Secrets to the Grave opens in November 1986, with the police from the idyllic California town of Oak Knoll processing the gruesome murder scene of Marissa Fordham. Marissa was 28 and the single mother of a four year-old daughter. The action starts off with a bang and doesn’t let up much throughout. Marissa’s daughter Haley is found beside the body of her mother. She had been strangled and left for dead. But she didn’t die. The rest of the book is spent racing to see if Haley can remember anything about the murderer before the culprit finds her again.
While this is the second book in this series, it’s not essential to read the first book, Deeper Than the Dead, before reading this one. Hoag does a good job of bringing the reader up to speed on what happened in the first installment while introducing the characters who are included in both books.
This book is set in 1986, and some of the details about that era time period were interesting, and some just seemed to weigh the story down. I didn’t really care that someone’s jeans were acid-washed. That was a bit of a jarring note that distracted from the story. But it did help to be reminded that computers and DNA testing weren’t available to small town police departments ‘way’ back [amazonify]052595192X[/amazonify]then. There is discussion about suspect profiling which was also in it’s infancy at the FBI during this time. It was eye-opening to be reminded about how much the process of conducting police investigations has changed in the last 25 years.
There are some graphic details about Marissa’s murder, plenty of blood in the first few pages and a few other violent scenes included throughout the book. If those things make you squeamish you might want to steer clear of this book. Otherwise, if you like a fast-paced book that keeps you guessing, this could be the book for you.
Krista lives just outside the urban sprawl of Portland, Oregon. Lamentably, her work as a technical writer and business analyst often interferes with her reading which is a true passion.
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