Title: Secrets to the Grave
Author: Tami Hoag
Release Date: October 25, 2011
Genre: Crime Fiction
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5
After the difficult events of Deeper than the Dead, Anne Navarre and Vince Leone have married, and Anne is working to be a legal child advocate. But when a beautiful young mother is found murdered, it brings back difficult memories for Anne and Vince. Marissa Fordham is viciously killed, and though the murderer tried to kill her four-year-old daughter Haley as well, she miraculously escaped. Now, Anne must work with Haley to help find the identity of her mother’s killer before it’s too late.
Like Deeper than the Dead, Secrets to the Grave has an interesting premise. The series is set in the 1980’s before the advent of fingerprint matching technology and a DNA database, not to mention cell phones, so it gives the novel an entirely different flavor. Vince and Detective Tony Mendez must rely on their wits, as the evidence doesn’t tell them nearly as much as we are used to today. I’ll admit that the constant references to the lack of technology (or the characters’ wishes that it was available) grated in this installment, but it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book.
The main storyline, involving the murder of Marissa Fordham, is intriguing and well-written. There are many suspects to choose from, each with a motive, and Hoag fleshes out these secondary characters well. It’s not too much of a stretch to guess the identity of the killer by the time the book is finished, but Hoag makes the ride to get there a lot of fun. I was impressed with the quality of this mystery, especially considering the “sophomore slump” that so many less-seasoned series writers face.
However, there is much more going on in Secrets to the Grave than just Marissa’s murder. The trial of the See-No-Evil killer is approaching, and the community is rocked by this new murder. Indeed, many of the names that Vince and Tony visit as possible suspects are very familiar, as readers became acquainted with them in the last book. As a result, this is in no way a standalone novel. Storylines and characters, both main and secondary, carry over, and though Hoag does try to summarize for the reader, it serves much better as a refresher than a primer. As a fan of series novels, though, I really appreciated that Hoag treated her series this way.
Overall, Secrets to the Grave is an easy read that would be perfect for some light plane fare. Hoag has done well with this series, creating memorable characters and gripping storylines, so if you’re a crime fiction fan and are looking for a new series to start, this is a great choice.