Monday, January 25, 2010

Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag

See-No-Evil, Speak-No-Evil, Hear-No-Evil - The three monkeys of the Japanese proverb form the MO of the monster who is kidnapping and brutally murdering young women.  Three fifth-grade friends running from the school bully and his sidekick literally stumble on the body of the first victim in the local park.   Their teacher, Anne Navarre, teams up with FBI agent Vince Leone and Detective Tony Mendez as they search for the killer.  Their search gives them a look inside the families of each of the five children and reminds us how superficially we really know most people.

This was our first book by Tami Hoag and we both enjoyed it - probably Dave more than me.  I always get hung up when an author tries to put me inside the head of a murderer or his victim.  I really don't need to know what creepy, disgusting satisfaction a sociopath gets from torturing his victim or what terrifying thoughts are in the victims head just before they die.  I think that kind of garbage encourages the weird-o's of the world.  But that's just me!  So, in usual fashion, I just had Dave read those portions silently and we moved on.  And - no surprise - the story wasn't missing a thing.  Leaving them out didn't slow the pace or make the story hard to follow so I can only deduce that those chapters were included simply for shock value.  Ok, moving on beyond my personal hang-ups...

The story is set in 1985, before cell phones, internet and DNA testing - three things which would have made this crime much easier to solve. The time setting added a twist to the story and reminded us how much science and technology have progressed in 25 years - and how much we take them for granted. 

Possible Spoiler Alert: The book opens with excerpts from a child's school essay intertwined with the thoughts of the killer, and probably shouldn't have.  It gives away a key clue to the puzzle that helped us figure out the killer's identity long before the end.  I would recommend that you just start with Chapter Two - there's really nothing else in the first chapter that matters to the plot - if you like to guess right up to the end. 

Several other reviewers of this book mentioned that this is Ms. Hoag's first foray into the serial killer genre, which makes me intrigued to try some of her previous works.  Deeper Than the Dead is a well written, gripping book with a bit of romance mixed in and a smattering of family psychology in the dynamics of the various families  Her writing and imagination are excellent.  Without the psychopath sequences, this would have rated 5 stars.  As it is, I would give it 4 out of 5.

This book was our "Read Your Doppleganger" selection for Jenners' Take Another Chance Challenge  Finding someone else who spells Tami "correctly" is rare. This was also our first entry in our own Read Together Challenge


  1. I've never read anything by this author -- I sometimes feel the way you do about "serial killers." I'm glad she spells her name right though!! : )

    I love that you read it together too. I wish my husband would read along with me on something. Our tastes are so incredibly different though.

  2. Our tastes are very different also, although Tami has been doing her best to broaden my horizons - and I have learned that there really are good books other than westerns and Michener. My biggest leap from my comfort zone was Stephen King's Dark Tower series - I loved them and Tami hasn't wanted to try them. Maybe it's time for me to drag her out of her comfort zone.