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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book Review: Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag (Oak Knoll #3)

Book cover of Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag
When I listened to the audio version of the first two books in Tami Hoag's Oak Knoll series, I found myself completely absorbed by the mysteries and murders that plagued the idyllic California town.  Hoag's choice to set the books in the 1980s, before DNA testing and high-tech forensic analysis, meant that the investigators were forced to rely more on psychological profiling than on scientific evidence.  Together, FBI profiler Vince Leone and Oak Knoll detective Tony Mendez used profiling to find a serial killer.  With the third book in the series, Down the Darkest Road, Hoag explores in detail the long-term effects that victims deal with.

Summary: Detective Tony Mendez isn't sure what to make of Lauren Lawton, Oak Knoll's newest resident.  Ever since her oldest daughter was kidnapped and her husband died under mysterious circumstances, Lauren has relentlessly bothered law enforcement officers with complaints and allegations that she's being stalked. When Lauren informs Mendez that her stalker has followed her to Oak Knoll - and that he's continuing to harass her and her other daughter - Mendez must figure out whether Lauren is delusional, or if she's telling the truth.

My thoughts: Despite that fact that Tony Mendez had a more prominent role (he's one of the best characters in the Oak Knoll), Down the Darkest Road didn't live up to the previous books in the series. I'm glad I chose to read the text rather than listen to the book because I think I would have been miffed that I spent 11 hours listening for what was ultimately an unsatisfying payoff to the mystery.

This book was more psychologically gruesome than the first two Oak Knoll novels.  First, there was the absolute horror that Lauren experiences not knowing what happened to her daughter.  Beyond that is the sick possibility that her daughter is dead, and that her murderer is now terrorizing Lauren in some twisted game.  Hoag captures Lauren's fear and helplessness in a bone-chilling narrative, but that doesn't mean it's a fun or pleasant read.  Despite my sympathy for Lauren's situation, I didn't particularly like her and her single-minded focus on her stalker was frustrating to read.

I was also disappointed that Vince Leone and Anne didn't get a lot of page time - I loved their participation in the first two series and was hoping that they'd be more actively involved in this case.  I'm still really interested in reading more Oak Knoll books, and I hope Hoag plans to continue the series - I assume she will since there are still unresolved plot threads from the Deeper Than the Dead and Secrets to the Grave.  I also hope, though, that she includes more Anne and Vince and that she moves back to the detective work that made the first two books so successful.

Rating: C+
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Length: 448 pages
Sensuality: None
Other Books in This Series: Deeper Than the Dead

Romance Novel Book Reviews by Sarah The Brazen Bookworm





Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review.

6 comments:

  1. I wasn't a big fan of this one either. I mean, Lauren has some freedom to be nuts after losing a daughter like that - but she was a little (a LOT) too extreme.

    I didn't think the twists and turns of this one lived up to the others either. Much more predictable.

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  2. OK, I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one who didn't really like this one. Yeah, I felt bad for Lauren, but she was pretty obnoxious - and untruthful. Drove me crazy.

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  3. Oh how disappointing. Hopefully the next one will better. Good call reading instead of listening.

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  4. I just started reading the second book and at the same time to get irritated with Vince. I'm still hoping Mendez will let him pay for embarassing him, so I can't realy be sad for his private life with Anne to get a minor role. At the other hand, it looks like Tony will actually get a major part in this book. Looking forward to that!

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  5. I just started reading the second book and at the same time to get irritated with Vince. I'm still hoping Mendez will let him pay for embarassing him, so I can't realy be sad for his private life with Anne to get a minor role. At the other hand, it looks like Tony will actually get a major part in this book. Looking forward to that!

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  6. I have found another female author who writes in a female mindset and world view. She is second only to Slaughter in creating characters who tap into the woman's psyche. Don't pass up a Hoag thriller or the Oak Knoll series for another book. I promise you won't regret it.

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