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Secrets to the Grave Hardcover – December 28, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 288 customer reviews
Book 2 of 3 in the Oak Knoll Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The follow-up to Deeper Than the Dead (2009) begins in November 1986. The See-No-Evil killer’s trial is nearing when a woman’s mutilated body is found. Detective Tony Mendez and FBI profiler Vince Leone, along with Vince’s wife, Anne (who in the first book was nearly done in by the accused See-No-Evil killer), race to find the perpetrator before he kills someone else. The book is set a couple of decades later than Colleen McCullough’s Carmine Delmonico novels, but it shares the same premise. It’s a crime novel set in a time before computerized databases, instantaneous data sharing, and high-tech forensics. The story is well designed, although one of the big plot twists is very similar to twists in recent thrillers by Lisa Gardner and Linwood Barclay, and the characters are believable and (mostly) likable. Hoag does an excellent job of exploring how a shocking crime can affect a small community. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Hoag’s Night Sins cracked the New York Times bestseller list in 1995, and her next nine books followed suit. We make this one an odds-on favorite to extend the streak to 11 in a row. --David Pitt

Review

Praise for Secrets to the Grave 
“Chilling...the story zooms along to a satisfyingly creepy conclusion.” --USA Today

“Spellbinding...Hoag’s reputation for highly entertaining thrillers in well earned.” --South Florida Sun-Sentinel

“Few writers do thrillers as well as Tami Hoag...superb plotting.” --Fresh Fiction

“Hoag does an excellent job of exploring how a shocking crime can affect a small community.”  --Booklist

“Hoag is a master of the game.” --All About Romance

“A complex thriller from one of the most intelligent and craft suspense writers working today.” --Bookreporter --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton; First Edition edition (December 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052595192X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525951926
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (288 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #406,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
There are a lot of secrets being kept in Oak Knoll, California in Secrets to the Grave, author Tami Hoag's sequel to last year's Deeper than the Dead.

Hoag wastes no time plunging the reader into the story, opening the book with a horrific crime scene depicting the aftermath of the brutal knife murder of single mother Marissa Fordham. Her four-year-old daughter, Haley, was also attacked and left for dead, languishing for two days with her mother's corpse before being discovered.

Detective Tony Mendez is tapped to head up the investigation, and knows from recent experience to make use of a tremendous resource located in town, former FBI Agent Vince Leone, one of the pioneers in the field of behavioral profiling.

Mendez also seeks assistance from child advocate Anne Navarre Leone, herself nearly a victim the previous year of the so-called "See No Evil" killer that plagued Oak Knoll (the case which initially brought her then FBI Agent, now husband Vince Leone to town). Together they must try to help a traumatized child recover and, if possible, provide them with information to help catch her mother's killer.

As was its predecessor, Secrets to the Grave is set in the mid-80's, which adds an interesting twist to the reader's experience. We have all become so accustomed to crime shows on TV showing off the marvels of how modern science assists in solving crimes, we forget that it wasn't too long ago that concepts such as psychological profiling and DNA identification were either still in their infancy (profiling) or pretty much weren't on police radar at all (DNA). Nor were computers commonplace in police stations.
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Format: Hardcover
Fans of thrillers and mysteries know that small towns make great settings for novels. There are the requisite stock characters, the socially incestuous relationships and the confined geography with which to play. However, in the hands of a talented and imaginative genre writer, those themes and characters that can seem all too familiar take on a new perspective and a new life. In SECRETS TO THE GRAVE, the prolific and bestselling author Tami Hoag explores good and evil, dark secrets, and the power of families to both destroy and heal in such a small town.

The book takes place in Oak Knoll, California, the setting of Hoag's previous effort, DEEPER THAN THE DEAD. It starts a year after the events of that novel, which centered on a string of murders and attacks by the "See-No-Evil" killer. While the trial of that case is getting underway and while many of the characters here were introduced in the first book of this "microseries," SECRETS TO THE GRAVE reads just as well as a stand-alone title as Hoag makes sure readers never feel lost or confused by references to earlier actions.

The story here begins, in the fall of 1986, with a gruesome discovery. The body of the young artist Marissa Fordham is found, mutilated almost beyond recognition in her Oak Knoll home. The body of her four-year-old daughter, Haley, is nestled against her shoulder with barely a heartbeat. Haley survives, and with emotions still running high from the recent murders and attacks by the See-No-Evil killer, Oak Knoll begins a hunt for a murderer once again. Sheriff's Detective Tony Mendez, along with his mentor and former FBI profiler, Vince Leone, lead the investigation as Leone's wife, Anne, takes care of the traumatized Haley, who is both a victim and the only witness to her mother's murder.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After reading "Deeper Than The Dead", I was very much looking forward to the continued adventures of Anne, Vince, Mendez and the population of Oak Knoll. Sadly, "Secrets To The Grave" couldn't hold a candle to its prequel.

On the positive side, the book has a nice flow, some interesting prose and several interesting characters. If that sounds like faint praise, it is.

Oddly, this book fails where the last one succeeded: The characters feel contrived, lifeless and ineffective. Despite being a legendary profiler, Vince cannot figure out the killer or the killer's motive. In fact, he continually misjudges suspects, bumbling his way through a case that reaches its conclusion almost despite him. If Vince doubted his own abilities, haunted by the suspicion that his own condition may be deteriorating, then he might experience some character growth. Instead, he's relegated to puttering about Oak Knoll, following up on not very much at all and (safe one late discovery) contributing precious little.

But if Vince is merely clueless, poor Anne really gets put through the wringer, along with Haley, a four year old subjected to experiences so awful that they struck me as comical by the end of the book. The improbable, curiously contrived situations of peril felt extraneous and repetitive. Anne had much to learn but gave a lot of herself in the first book. Here, she's relegated to an overly idealistic human pincushion, making terrible decisions that put a four year old in lethal danger.

Extremely grating were the continued references to the serial killer of the first book. That killer was a much more formidable villain, a character worth returning to.
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