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VINE VOICEon December 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tami Hoag gives us an entertaining and thought-provoking story in this smoothly-written book. It is 1985, and we are in a small, quiet town in California. There, we meet four children in Anne Navarre's fifth-grade class. Dennis is a foul-mouthed bully. Roach is his toady. Tommy is bright and well-behaved. Wendy is smart and cool. She and Tommy are best friends.
Their lives change forever one afternoon when they cut through a park on the way home from school. Tommy stumbles and falls into a depression and comes face to face with a dead woman - obviously a victim of a horrible murder. Terrified, Roach runs away. Wendy and Tommy are paralyzed with fright. Dennis thinks it is all pretty cool. We see the huge effects the event has on the children and on their very different families.
Detective Tony Mendez notes that the victim was rendered deaf by the murderer, and her eyes and mouth were glued shut, so she was helpless before being murdered by a peculiar pattern of stab wounds. A victim in another county died similarly, and Mendez learns that another young woman is missing. It looks like a serial killer. He calls for help from the FBI, and it comes in the form of FBI Profiler Vince Leone. Together, they set out to track down the killer, while matters become steadily more-frightening.
If you can't identify the serial killer immediately, you should turn in your junior detective badge, but the identity is not obvious to the detectives until we reach a breathless climax late in the story. It is a tale that is well worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tami Hoag's "Deeper than the Dead" takes place in the "civilized upscale town" of Oak Knoll, California in 1985. A sadistic serial killer is abducting, assaulting, mutilating, and murdering young women. He is organized and extremely careful to leave no incriminating evidence behind. One day, while roughhousing in a neighborhood park, ten-year old Tommy Crane accidentally comes across one of the victims, who had been "killed and discarded like a broken doll." Tommy and his close friend, Wendy Morgan, are deeply traumatized by this experience. Life in Oak Knoll will ever be the same.

The author's taste for the grisly is in full evidence here. She not only examines the physical damage that one crazed human being can inflict upon another, but also tears away the façade that hides an unpleasant truth from the world. Some apparently happy and intact families are, in reality, deeply dysfunctional. The book's heroine, Anne Navarre, is a fifth-grade teacher who is twenty-eight and unmarried. She has mixed feelings when forty-eight Vince Leone, an FBI man and a pioneer in criminal profiling, comes to town and takes a fancy to her. Should she open her heart to someone who is twenty years her senior and who might leave as quickly as he came? As conditions in Oak Knoll deteriorate, Anne's main concern is for the welfare of her students. She wonders if they will end up in psychiatric care for the rest of their lives.

"Deeper than the Dead" is a suspenseful and mildly entertaining thriller, marred by some prosaic, heavy-handed, and cliché-ridden writing. (Example: "With his victim, he was in control, he could let loose the self that existed in the innermost part of him.") However, some vividly described characters do get our undivided attention: Anne is lovely, compassionate, and altruistic; Vince is tough, clever, and determined. The children's plight is truly poignant; they are at the mercy of fate and their parents; it is difficult to decide which is worse. One twist is that, since the action takes place in the mid-eighties, the authorities do not have the advantage of computer databases, DNA profiling, or other modern techniques to move the investigation along more quickly. Be warned that only those who can handle an uncompromising look into the murkiest and most depressing recesses of the human psyche will be able to stomach the bleak tone of Hoag's latest novel. There is plentiful gore and profanity, and only occasional bits of sardonic humor to lighten up the gloomy proceedings.
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VINE VOICEon December 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This story takes place in 1985 and the first chapter opens with a child's type of writing about his dad with things like "My hero is my dad. He is a great person..." and below each writing are the thoughts of the killer as he thinks of the woman he is murdering as "perfect" because she is blind and mute and beautiful. A very chilling beginning especially as after the killer drops the body, he remembers he has to pick his kid up after school!

About five days later, one mean boy, Dennis Farman, who is a year older than the other kids who are ten is trying to get the other kid, Tommy Crane, in trouble with taunts. Wendy Morgan who is Tommy's friend, tells him to speak up for himself. A fourth child, Cody Roache, who is a follower of Dennis manages to get himself in trouble with the teacher, Anne Navarre. Miss Navarre is young and pretty and like most young boys, Tommy adores her. Luckily the last bell rings and the kids take off. Tommy and Wendy live near each other and so take a trail that leads through a big park that is part of a forest. As they do they hear Dennis and Cody yell and head after them so Tommy grabs onto Wendy and they take off running and veer off the trail. They jump over an embankment and Cody and Dennis jump too and when they land Tommy realizes he smells something awful and comes face to face with a dead woman. As the other three see this, Cody screams and runs away. Wendy keeps her cool and tells Dennis he has to call his Dad who is a deputy sheriff. Dennis thinks it is pretty cool.

This is just the beginning of a tale of murders and the hunt for the killer which due to the children finding the body also involves Ann Navarre, Detective Tony Mendez and his friend from the FBI, Vince Leone. Vince is one of a new breed at the FBI using a new technique called profiling to get into the mind of a serial killer.

This is a very fascinating story but I did find there were a few too many references to the fact that they DIDN'T have DNA testing yet which would have simplified things. It wasn't really needed more than once.

Good read - recommended.
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on January 9, 2010
All of the components are there: good author, tight plot, a few interesting characters.......For me it fell apart with the 'back in time' bit. I didn't think that making the story set in the mid 80's pre profiling pre a PC on every desk, pre cell phones, etc. made this any more intriguing or any better a story. I frankly thought it was a gimmick on the part of a writer who doesn't need a gimmick. I also figured out the killers identity in the first few chapters---way too many red herrings and too much going on. Additionally I was disturbed, not so much at the graphic sickness exhibited by the killer, that is sort of expected in this sort of novel. It was the destruction of so many young lives that bothered me. From a writing perspective I was offended by the abrupt, almost throwaway ending. All in all, not what I expect from Ms. Hoag.
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on December 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I started reading this yesterday morning, finished it last night. It's not a small book, mind you, but I walked around all day with this book glued to my face.

There is, of course, a serial killer...and an FBI profiler with an interesting back story...a love interest...and kids. The children in this story discover one of the victims buried in the woods, and their teacher tries to be supportive in the face of some widely varying reactions from the families.

There is such a good representation of families in their 'public' versus 'private' faces. Are they all good parents? Are the families dysfunctional? Or are they Dysfunctional with a capital D?

Well, all of the above can be found in this book, but it's not always easy to figure out which is which.

There are a lot of surprises, and several times I thought (heh) I had figured out who was guilty, but the truth left me thinking, OH WOW!

I'll be looking for additional books by this author to read on my Kindle!
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on July 11, 2010
This is a review of the audiobook read by Kirsten Potter. I would give Kirsten's reading of Deeper than the Dead four stars. If I was reviewing the book alone I would probably drop it to three or three and a half stars. I am still looking forward to reading the next in the series, Secrets to the Grave so I am not giving up on Ms. Hoag.

It just seemed that there was too much head hopping without a really satisfactory resolution. We go from Mendez's view point to Vince's view point,to Tommy's view point, to Wendy's viewpoint, to Ann's viewpoint, to the victim's viewpoint and to the Killer's viewpoint without a satisfactory conclusion to the experience of more than a couple of the characters.

Ms Potter's voice is cool and strong, giving weight but not portentousness to the events she narrates. She dials down the drama, which makes it tolerable to listen to even the horrendous descriptions of the things people can and will do to each other.

As for Ms. Hoag's book, as others have said, it is set in 1985. That lead to a couple of discussions with friends about what we could remember about 1985. While most of it seemed right, the one thing we couldn't resolve was whether hotels then had coffee makes routinely available. I remember running into my first "honor bar" in 1989 in San Diego at an Omni, but I'm not sure there was a coffee maker, also. Yeah, that is pretty trivial, but it's the little things that can sometimes leave you wondering or give you a satisfying feeling that you are in the past.

As I said, the focus of the book was too diffuse for my taste, but it was intriguing enough to keep me listening for the entire almost 14 hours of the audiobook. (The abridged version, also read by Ms Potter is a little over 6 hours, but I have not listened to it. I don't normally recommend abridged books of any sort.)
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on December 25, 2010
This book is about a serial killer stalking young women in an upscale town in 1985. The main suspects are the fathers of 4 children who attend school there. The author takes us into the lives of 3 of these children and shows us how their dysfunctional parents affect them. The year 1985 is key as technology like cell phones and DNA profiling are in their infancy and the the killer does not leave any trace evidence behind.

Certain plot points are unresolved. Who is the woman found in the pig sty? Where is she from? What happened in the serial killer's past that made him become such an evil person? How does the wife just up and leave without police tracking her down since she obviously knew what was going on with her husband (evidence conveniently in her possession, his disappearing in the middle of the night).

I give this book an average rating; a good beach read but not on my list of keepers. If you want to read it, borrow it from the library.
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on August 29, 2015
Read another book of hers which i thoroughly enjoyed. Friend gave me this book so read it too.. At first didn't think I would like it. However enjoyed it as well. So i purchased the other 2 in the series. Almost done with it and will read the 3rd. Enjoying it as well. Suspense and dying to get to the end.
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VINE VOICEon February 9, 2011
Tami Hoag and I go way back. In the early/mid-90s, she was one of the first authors I poached from my parents' bookshelf. She introduced me to romantic suspense long before I even knew what romantic suspense was. And then I read Kill the Messenger, which didn't connect with me at all, and she fell further down my list of go-to authors. Thankfully, with Deeper Than The Dead, she is back.

First of all, I think the title and the meaning behind it is genius. It refers to the location of the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit in its early days; the office is in the bowels of the building, and therefore its inhabitants are deeper than the dead. But really, the book has very little to do with the BSU as a unit. The focus is Vince Leone, a profiler who takes it upon himself to go help a promising young detective who thinks he's found a serial killer.

Also involved in the case is 5th grade teacher Anne Navarre, who is sucked in when her students find the latest body. One of the things I think worked really well in this book was the way Hoag used the children to show us some of what was happening behind the scenes. I think she captured each one of them perfectly, especially the troubled bully, Dennis. It helps us remember that even the most disturbed child was probably a victim.

Vince and Anne make an unexpected and unusual team, but I liked them together. I actually wild-guessed who the bad guy was quite early in the story, but I think it comes from the sheer amount of these sorts of books I read -- you eventually learn how things work. Hoag does a good job of making me doubt my guess on more than one occasion.

Beneath all this effusive praise, I do have a few nits to pick. 1) I didn't see the point of Anne's despicable father, except to serve as yet another example of bad parenting in a story in which crappy parents abound. 2) Anne's best friend Franny was a little too flaming, especially for a kindergarten teacher in 1985. And 3) Hoag uses the term "person of interest" on several occasions, and this was a term that wasn't widely used, even amongst law enforcement, until at least the mid-90s. But none of this was enough to pull me away from the story, and I look forward to not only reading the sequel, but to bumping Tami Hoag back up a few spots on my "must-read" list.
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on August 16, 2015
You have to be ready for the darkness of the scenes that will mostly likely pop in your mind. It makes one question the human stain...
I love the way Tami Hoag writes and the material she gathers; suspense at its best.
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