Sunday, April 17, 2011

Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag

About the book: Marissa Fordham had a past full of secrets, a present full of lies. Everyone knew of her, but no one knew her. When Marissa is found brutally murdered, with her young daughter, Haley, resting her head on her mother's bloody breast, she sends the idyllic California town of Oak Knoll into a tailspin. Already on edge with the upcoming trial of the See- No-Evil killer, residents are shocked by reports of the crime scene, which might not have been discovered for days had it not been for a chilling 911 call: a small child's voice saying, "My daddy hurt my mommy." Sheriff's detective Tony Mendez faces a puzzle with nothing but pieces that won't fit. To assist with his witness, Haley, he calls teacher-turned-child advocate Anne Leone. Anne's life is hectic enough-she's a newlywed and a part- time student in child psychology, and she's the star witness in the See-No-Evil trial. But one look at Haley, alone and terrified, and Anne's heart is stolen. As Tony and Anne begin to peel back the layers of Marissa Fordham's life, they find a clue fragment here, another there. And just when it seems Marissa has taken her secrets to the grave, they uncover a fact that puts Anne and Haley directly in the sights of a killer: Marissa Fordham never existed.

First Line: The house stood by itself off the road in a field of dried-golden grass, half hidden by spreading oaks.

My thoughts: This is the second book in Hoag's Deeper than the Dead series. This one continues to explore the early days of forensic investigation. It was interesting going along with Leone and Mendez as they used old fashioned investigation methods while dreaming of the future. Since this story takes place in 1986, Hoag wrote in historical facts and pop culture references common to the day. The fact that there were virtually no cell phones added to the danger for some of the characters as they were placed in situations where they couldn't just whip out the phone and call for help. I enjoyed this look into the recent past, it really set the feel of the setting!

It takes up a year after the events in Deeper Than the Dead and I liked catching up with the main characters Ann, Vince, Mendez, Franny and others. Some of the minor were revisited as well, in a sub plot that I think is leading into another book in this series.

The first scene is fairly graphic and heartbreaking so like the first book I'll tell you to beware. This was a page turner for me and would do quite well as a stand alone, but I'm glad I got to know the back story. This one kept me guessing till the end as well as keeping me on the edge of my seat.


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