Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Deeper Than The Dead.

Title/Author: Deeper Than The Dead by Tami Hoag.

Read by: Kirsten Potter.

Genre: Thriller.

Publisher: Random House Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: Franny. Wendy Morgan.

All in all: I liked it but was expecting to love it.

Synopsis: One fall day in 1985 in Oak Knoll, Calif., fifth-grader Tommy Crane and his sidekick, Wendy Morgan, are fleeing the class bully, Dennis Farman, through a local park when Tommy stumbles over the head of a dead woman buried up to her neck. Two hours from Los Angeles, Oak Knoll is not the sort of town where major crime is a problem, but a serial killer is on the loose who's already murdered and tortured several women and has another on deck in his secret lair. Fifth-grade teacher Anne Navarre, who counsels Tommy and Wendy, is soon at the center of the investigation being led by a hunky FBI agent, Vince Leone. This is serial killer lite with Hoag's romance roots dictating both the prose style and the unveiling of the killer. ~Amazon.com

My Thoughts: I've read many of Tami Hoag’s books and really enjoyed them. However, this book didn’t have the same impact for me. I’m not sure if this is because I haven’t read a book by her in a very long time and perhaps my tastes have changed or if it is just this one book.

It seemed a bit formulaic. There is a cast of characters that suspicion is thrown on. Also some of the language just stood out to me and seemed a bit cliché. The other thing that bothered me is the romance. It’s a bit cheesy for me, however, there isn’t a ton of it so it is palatable.  Hoag wrote this book set in the 80s, when forensic science wasn't as advanced as it is now, but I didn't love how procedures were explained in a very long winded way and how they kept reiterating how one day, police work would become easier when technology became more advanced. 

The narration is excellent. Kirsten Potter voiced all the characters well. Male, female, adult and child…they all worked and were very believable.  This is a major strong point in the audio book.

The main character Anne and the leading male romantic lead FBI agent Vince were good characters, and although they had plenty of backstory and insight into their characters, I didn't feel that connected to them.  I'm not sure why because everything is there.  Maybe it's because I felt I had seen these characters before. 

One of my favorite characters is Franny, Anne’s best friend and co-worker. He is gay, a little bit boisterous, HYSTERICAL and fabulous. To some he may seem a little bit stereotyped, but I know people like him and I enjoy them, just as I enjoy Franny. His line about having a carnival themed birthday party called "Fran-ival" made me choke with laughter.  It's not just his role as comic relief, it's his witty and astute observations and the way he came across made me want him for a friend.  My other favorite character is Wendy Morgan, a 5th grader in Anne’s class. It’s basically her conversations that made me laugh.  She is honest as only a child can be.

The suspects are also an interesting bunch of characters.  What makes it more interesting is that they all live in the community and have children in Anne's class.  The effect of finding a dead body, having suspicion thrown onto their parents and their own personalities to begin with make the students some of the most compelling people in the book.

It did get better towards the end for me. I was really perplexed as to who the killer is and it did turn out to be a bit of a surprise for me. I also really, really enjoyed the very end.  There is also a sequel (Secrets to the Grave) and the premise looks intriguing.  The killer is on trial when another similar crime occurs.  Although I didn't absolutely love Deeper Than The Dead, there is obviously something about the story that intrigues me enough to want to read the next book. 

After thoughts:
I looked on Amazon to check out the reviews and not many people agree with me.  Deeper Than The Dead received very high praise.  Also, someone wrote that if the reader couldn't guess the killer they should turn in their junior detective badge.  Well, consider mine turned in then.  I couldn't guess definitively who the killer is, but then again, I truly think Hoag could have made any of the suspects the killer.  I don't feel there is any one clue or personality trait that points to it. 

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