Title: Deeper Than the Dead
Author: Tami Hoag
Release Date: December 29, 2009
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
It’s 1984 in California, and when four children come across the body of a woman in the woods, the community is shocked. Their teacher, Anne Navarre, takes it upon herself to ensure that the children suffer no lasting damage from the encounter. Vince Leone, an FBI agent with a trauma in his recent past, comes to town in order to help with the investigation.
Deeper Than the Dead is a grisly crime fiction novel with a twist – because it takes place in 1984, the authorities don’t have the vast technological resources of our contemporary crime labs. DNA profiling? Fingerprint databases? These weren’t available in 1984, and as a result, this is a completely different kind of investigation. Vince Leone must rely on his instincts and the untested art of criminal profiling to catch this twisted killer.
Anne Navarre is a great character, especially because it is clear how much she cares for her students. She knows that Dennis is a school bully, and that he is the reason the children came upon the body – he was chasing young Tommy and Wendy through the woods. However, this does not stifle her compassion for Dennis. She realizes that he likely has a difficult home life, and even after his actions turn to the despicable, she wants nothing more than to help him. She refuses to give up, even when those around her tell her it’s too late for Dennis.
The mystery in Deeper Than the Dead is well-written and takes the reader on many twists and turns. By the end of the book, it’s pretty clear who the murderer is, and though it takes the characters more time than the reader to figure that out, it never becomes frustrating. The descriptions are definitely a bit gruesome, so if you shy away from that in your reading, I’d pass on this book, or at least plan on skimming those sections.
This is a great start to a new series. The well developed character and unique time period set it apart from similar offerings. If you’re looking for an easy and engaging read after a long day at work, this is a perfect novel to pick up.