Deeper Than the Deadby Tami Hoag
California, 1985-Four children and young teacher Anne Navarre make a gruesome discovery: a partially buried female body, her eyes and mouth glued shut. A serial killer is at large, and the very bonds that hold their idyllic town together are about to be tested. Tasked with finding the killer, FBI investigator Vince Leone employs a new and controversial FBI… See more details below
California, 1985-Four children and young teacher Anne Navarre make a gruesome discovery: a partially buried female body, her eyes and mouth glued shut. A serial killer is at large, and the very bonds that hold their idyllic town together are about to be tested. Tasked with finding the killer, FBI investigator Vince Leone employs a new and controversial FBI technique called "profiling", which plunges him into the lives of the four children-and the young teacher whose need to uncover the truth is as intense as his own. But as new victims are found, Vince and Anne find themselves circling the same small group of local suspects, blissfully unaware that someone very near to them is a murderous psychopath...
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My hero is my dad. He is a great person. He workshard, is nice to everyone, and tries to help people.
His victim would have screamed if she could have. He had seen toit she could not open her mouth. There would have been terror in hereyes. He had made certain she could not open them. He had renderedher blind and mute, making her the perfect woman. Beautiful. Seenand not heard. Obedient. He had immobilized her so she could notfight him.
Sometimes he helps me with my homework becausehe is good at math and science. Sometimes weplay catch in the backyard, which is really funand cool. But he is very busy. He works very hard.
Her uncontrollable trembling and the sweat that ran down the sidesof her face showed her terror. He had locked her inside the prison ofher own body and mind, and there would be no escape.
The cords stood out in her neck as she strained against the bindings.Sweat and blood ran in thin rivulets down the slopes of her small,round breasts.
My dad tells me no matter what I should alwaysbe polite and respect people. I should treat otherpeople the way I would like to be treated.
She had to respect him now. She had no choice. The power was allhis. In this game, he always won. He had stripped away all of her pretense,the mask of beauty, to reveal the plain raw truth: that she wasnothing and he was God.
It was important for her to know that before he killed her.
My dad is a very important man in the community.
It was important that she had the time to reflect on that truth. Becauseof that, he wouldn't kill her just yet. Besides, he didn't have thetime.
My dad. My hero.
It was nearly three o'clock. He had to go pick up his child fromschool.
Five Days Later
Tuesday, October 8, 1985
"You suck, Crane."
Tommy Crane sighed and stared straight ahead.
Dennis Farman leaned over from his desk, right across from Tommy's,his fat face screwed up into what he probably thought was a reallytough look.
Tommy tried to tell himself it was just a stupid look. Asinine. Thatwas his new word of the week. Asinine: marked by inexcusable failureto exercise intelligence or sound judgment. Definition number two: of,relating to, or resembling an ass.
That was Dennis, all the way around.
He tried not to think about the fact that Dennis Farman was biggerthan he was, a whole year older than he was, and just plain mean."You suck donkey dicks," Farman said, laughing to himself like hethought he was brilliant or something.
Tommy sighed again and looked at the clock on the wall above thedoor. Two more minutes.
Wendy Morgan turned around in her seat and looked at him withfrustration. "Say something, Tommy. Tell him he's a dork."
"Say something, Tommy,'" Farman parroted, making his voicereally high, like a girl's. "Or let your girlfriend talk for you."
"He doesn't have a girlfriend," Cody Roache, Farman's scrawnytoady, chimed in. "He's gay. He's gay and she's a lesbo."
Wendy rolled her eyes. "Shut up, Cockroach. You don't even knowwhat that means."
"Yes, I do."
"Because you are."
Tommy watched the clock tick one minute closer to freedom. Atthe front of the room, Miss Navarre walked back to her desk from thedoor with a yellow note in her hand.
If someone had tortured him, held fire to his feet, or stuck bambooshoots under his fingernails, he would have had to admit he was kindof in love with Miss Navarre. She was smart and kind, and reallypretty with big brown eyes and dark hair tucked behind her ears.
"Twat," Cockroach said, just loud enough that the bad word shotlike a poisoned dart straight to Miss Navarre's ear, and her attentionsnapped in their direction.
"Mr. Roache," she said in that tone of voice that cut like a knife."Would you like to come to the front of the room now and explain tothe rest of the class exactly why you will be staying in the room forrecess and lunch hour tomorrow?"
Roache wore his most stupid expression behind his too-big glasses."Uh, no."
Miss Navarre arched an eyebrow. She could say a lot with thateyebrow. She was sweet and kind, but she was no pushover.Cody Roache swallowed hard and tried again. "Um…; no,ma'am?"
The bell rang loudly, and everyone started to bolt from their seats.Miss Navarre held up one finger and they all froze like they were insuspended animation.
"Mr. Roache," she said. It was never a good thing when she calledsomeone Mr. or Miss. "I'll see you first thing tomorrow morning atmy desk."
She turned her attention to Dennis Farman, holding up the note inher hand. "Dennis, your father called to say he won't be able to pickyou up today, and you should walk home."
The second Miss Navarre dropped her hand, the entire fifth-gradeclass bolted for the door like a herd of wild horses.
"Why don't you stand up to him, Tommy?" Wendy demanded as theywalked away from Oak Knoll Elementary School and toward the park.Tommy hiked his backpack up on one shoulder. "'Cause he couldpound me into a pile of broken bones."
"He's all talk."
"That's easy for you to say. He hit me once in dodgeball and Ididn't breathe for like a week."
"You have to stand up for yourself," Wendy insisted, blue eyesflashing. She had long, wavy blonde hair like a mermaid's, which shewas always wearing in the styles of rock stars Tommy had never heardof. "Otherwise, what kind of man are you?"
"I'm not a man. I'm a kid, and I want to stay that way for a while."
"What if he went after me?" she asked. "What if he tried to hit meor kidnap me?"
Tommy frowned. "That's different. That's you. Sure, I'd try to saveyou. That's what a guy is supposed to do. It's called chivalry. Like inthe Knights of the Round Table or Star Wars."
Wendy flashed a smile and wound one blonde braid into a shapelike a cinnamon roll pressed against her ear. "Does that make mePrincess Leia?" she said, batting her eyelashes.
Tommy rolled his eyes. They turned off the sidewalk and onto atrail that cut through Oakwoods Park.
Oakwoods was a big park with part of it clipped and cleared andset up with picnic pavilions and a bandstand and playground. The restof it was more wild, like a forest with simple trails cut through it.A lot of kids wouldn't cut through the park because there werestories about it being haunted and homeless weirdos living in it, andsomeone claimed they once saw Bigfoot. But it was the shortest wayhome, and he and Wendy had been going this way since they were inthe third grade. Nothing bad had ever happened.
"And you're Luke Skywalker," Wendy said.
Tommy didn't want to be Luke Skywalker. Han Solo had all thefun, blasting around the galaxy with Chewbacca, breaking the rulesand doing whatever they liked.
Tommy had never broken a rule in his life. His day-to-day existencewas orderly and scheduled. Up at seven, breakfast at seven fifteen, toschool by eight. School let out at three ten. He had to be home by threeforty-five. Sometimes he walked. Sometimes one of his or Wendy'sparents picked them up, depending. When he got home he would havea snack and tell his mother everything that happened that day. From four until six fifteen he could go out and play—unless he had a pianolesson—but he had to be cleaned up and at the dinner table at sixthirty sharp.
It would have been a lot more fun to be Han Solo.
Wendy had moved on to other topics, chattering about her latestfavorite singer, Madonna, who Tommy had never heard of because hismother insisted they only listen to public radio. She wanted him togrow up to be a concert pianist and/or a brain surgeon. Tommy wantedto grow up to be a baseball player, but he didn't tell his mother that.That was between him and his dad.
Suddenly, behind them, came a blood-curdling war cry and whatsounded like wild animals crashing through the woods.
"RUN!!" Tommy yelled.
Dennis Farman and Cody Roache came leaping over a fallen log,their faces red from shouting.
Tommy grabbed Wendy's wrist and took off, dragging her alongbehind him. He was faster than Dennis. He'd outrun him before.Wendy was fast for a girl, but not as fast as he was.
Farman and Roache were catching up to them, their eyes buggingout of their heads like a gargoyle's. Their mouths were wide-open.They were still yelling, but Tommy could only hear the pounding ofhis heart and the crashing sound they made as they bounded throughthe woods.
"This way!" he yelled, veering off the trail.
Wendy looked back, yelling, "FART-MAN!!"
"JUMP!!" Tommy shouted.
They went over the edge of an embankment and flew through theair. Farman and Roache came flying after them. They landed like somany stones, hitting the ground and tumbling.
All the colors of the forest whirled past Tommy's eyes like a kaleidoscopeas he rolled, until he finally came to a stop on a soft moundof dirt.
He lay still for a moment, holding his breath, waiting for DennisFarman to jump on him. But he could hear Dennis moaning loudlysomewhere behind him.
Slowly Tommy pushed himself up on his hands and knees. Theground he was on had been turned over recently. It smelled like earth and wet leaves, and something else he couldn't name. It was soft anddamp and crumbly like someone had dug it up with a shovel. Likesomeone had buried something…; or somebody.
His heart jumped into the back of his throat as he raised hishead…; and came face-to-face with death.
At first, all Tommy could see was that the woman was pretty. Shelooked peaceful, like in The Lady of the Lake. Her skin was pale andkind of blue. Her eyes were closed.
Then slowly other things came into focus: blood that had drizzleddown her chin and dried, a slash mark across one cheek, ants marchinginto and out of her nostrils.
Tommy's stomach flipped over.
"Holy shit!" Dennis exclaimed as he came to stand beside thegrave.
Cody Roache, dirt on his face, glasses askew, screamed like a girl,bolted, and ran back the way they had come.
Wendy was as white as a sheet as she stared at the dead woman,but, as always, she had her wits about her. She turned to Dennis andsaid, "You have to go call your dad."
Dennis wasn't listening to her. He got down on his hands and kneesfor a closer look. "Is she really dead?"
"Don't touch her!" Tommy snapped as Dennis reached out a grubbyfinger to poke at the woman's face.
He had only ever seen one dead person in his whole life—his grandmotheron his father's side—and she was in a coffin. But he knew it justwasn't right to touch this woman. It was disrespectful or something."What if she's just asleep?" Dennis said. "What if she was buriedalive and she's in a coma?"
He tried to push up one of the woman's eyelids, but it wouldn'tbudge. He couldn't seem to take his eyes off the woman's face.To Tommy it looked as if something had been digging at the grave.One of the woman's hands was out of the dirt, as if she had been trying to reach out for help. The hand was mangled, like maybe someanimal had chewed on her fingers, tearing flesh and exposing bones.
He had fallen right on top of a dead woman. His head swam. Hefelt like someone had just poured cold water over him.
As Dennis reached out to touch the woman again, a dog steppedout of some bushes on the other side of the body and growled deep inits throat.
None of them moved then. The dog was mean-looking, white witha big black spot around one beady eye and over the small ear. The dogmoved forward. The kids moved backward.
"He's protecting her," Tommy said.
"Maybe he killed her," Dennis said. "Maybe he killed her and buriedher like a bone, and now he's back to eat the body."
He said it as if he hoped that was the case, and he couldn't wait towatch the next gruesome scene.
Then as suddenly as it had appeared, the dog stepped back into thebushes and was gone.
In the next second, a man in a sheriff's deputy's uniform appearedat the top of the bank the kids had tumbled over. He looked like agiant looking down at them, his hair buzzed flat on top, his eyes hiddenby mirrored sunglasses. He was Dennis Farman's father.
Tommy stood well back from the deputies who had come with yellowcrime-scene tape to mark off the area around the shallow grave.
He should have been home by now. His mother was going to be reallymad. He had a piano lesson at five. But he couldn't seem to make himselfleave, and he thought maybe he wasn't supposed to.
The light was fading in the thick woods. Somewhere out there wasa mad dog, and maybe even a murderer. He didn't want to walk homeanymore.
The adults on the other side of the tape weren't paying any attentionto him or Wendy. Dennis hung around just outside the tape, tryingto get a better look as the deputies did their jobs.
Cody Roache had run all the way back to the street and nearly gothimself run over by Dennis's father in his squad car. Tommy had heardthe deputies telling each other. Mr. Farman had come straight to thescene, but Cody had not come back.
"I wonder who she is," Wendy said quietly. She sat on the stump ofa tree that had been cut down over the summer. "I wonder how shedied."
"Somebody killed her," Tommy said.
"I think I want to go home now," Wendy said. "Don't you?"
Tommy didn't answer her. He felt like he was inside of a bubble,and if he tried to move the bubble would burst and all sorts of feelingswould wash over him and drown him.
People had come into the park to see what was going on. Theystood up on the bank—teenagers, a mailman, one of the janitors fromschool.
As he watched them, Miss Navarre appeared at the edge of thegroup. She spotted him and Wendy right away and made her way downto them.
"Are you guys all right?" she asked.
"Tommy fell on a dead person!" Wendy said.
Tommy said nothing. He had started to shake all over. Inside hishead all he could see was the dead woman's face—the blood, the gashin her cheek, the ants crawling on her.
"A deputy came into the school and said something had happened,"Miss Navarre said, looking over at the place where the deadlady was. She turned back then and touched Tommy's forehead andbrushed some dead leaves out of his hair. "You're really pale, Tommy.You should sit down."
Dutifully he sat down on the stump beside Wendy. Miss Navarrelooked as pale as either of them, but there was no more room on thestump.
"Tell me what happened," she said.
The tale spilled out of Wendy like rushing water. When she cameto the part where Tommy fell on the grave, Miss Navarre closed hereyes and said, "Oh my God."
She bent down to Tommy's level and looked him straight in theeyes. "Are you all right?"
Tommy gave the smallest nod. "I'm okay."
His voice sounded like it came from far away.
"Wait here," she said. "I'm going to ask the deputies if I can takeyou home."
She walked over to the yellow tape stretched between the trees andtried to get the attention of Dennis Farman's dad, who seemed to bethe big shot on the scene.
The two exchanged words. Miss Navarre gestured toward Dennis.Farman's father shook his head. They were arguing. Tommy could tellby the way they were standing—Miss Navarre with her hands on herhips, Mr. Farman puffing himself up and leaning over her. Then MissNavarre raised a hand and ended the discussion.
She was angry when she came back, although she did her best tohide it. Tommy could feel it all around her like frozen air.
"Come on," she said, reaching out her hands to them. "I'm takingyou home."
At ten Tommy generally considered himself too old to hold handswith an adult. He couldn't remember the last time his mother had heldhis hand. Kindergarten, maybe. But he didn't feel so grown-up now,and he took Miss Navarre's soft, smooth hand and held on tight as sheled them away from the terrible scene and out of the woods.
But the scene came with Tommy, stuck in his head; he felt sick atthe idea that it might never go away.
Meet the Author
Tami Hoag is the #1 international bestselling author of thirty books. Renowned for combining thrilling plots with character-driven suspense, Hoag first hit the New York Times bestseller list with Night Sins, and each of her books since has been a bestseller. She lives in Florida.
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In 1985 in Oak Knoll in Southern California, fifth-grader Tommy Crane and Wendy Morgan run away from the class bully Dennis Farman and his flunkie Cody Roach when the fleeing pair trips over over the head of a dead woman. The victim was buried in the woody section of Oakwood Park up to her neck; her eyes and mouth glued shut. Their fifth grade teacher Anne Navarre tries to help the two children cope. Sheriff's Detective Tony Mendez has just come home from attending an eleven-week profiling class at the FBI Academy. He points out this is the third victim in two years, but Dennis' father Chief Deputy Frank Farman says it is only two inside their jurisdiction and insists "signatures" have nothing to do with the case. Sheriff Cal Dixon points out the differences in the profile between this case and the previous two. Meanwhile Anne becomes the prime suspect as FBI Agent Vince Leone arrives to lead the investigation. This is an exhilarating serial killer thriller made fresh by using the mid 1980s as the date so that profiling remains voodoo to some old time law enforcement officials. The story line is fast paced from the moment Tommy trips over the head of the mostly interred victim and never slows down until the climax in a hospital room and a drive on the Interstate. Although too many threads are left dangling even for a sequel or two, fans will relish Tamu Hoag's enjoyable Reagan Era police procedural. Harriet Klausner
I could not stop reading Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag. I think its her best book yet. I liked it so much I bought the hardback for my mom, who also loved it. It is a crazy, dark story that keeps you guessing up 'til the very end. Of course I guessed totally wrong, but that's the way I like my murder/mysteries. I want to be surprised so I can read it again and find every detail and clue I missed. I am not really a hard core murder/mystery buff, but I have now read two of Tami Hoag's books and I am very impressed. Her writing hooks you right away and leaves you needing to read "just one more chapter" before you go to sleep. Be careful, you will find yourself reading into the wee hours of the night without even getting sleepy!
I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the characters and plot but it was well written and carried everything that was going on very well. The children were well placed throughout the story as well as the adults. I especially liked the FBI agent's input into the investigation without trying to take over and the mentoring he was doing. The young teacher was a wonderful addition to the characters which showed a dedicated,caring person and very tolerant of a father who was a very bitter and self centered man. It was difficult at times to remember what it was like back in the 80's when the DNA was just coming into the picture and cell phones were almost non-existant. (How did we ever survive?)
At the beginning, I thought this was going to be written with a feminists' agenda. That was short-lived. I found this author to be sensitive to all views. Although I sensed who the culprit was (and there were many possibilities) it was the author who revealed at the end....and then some. I recommend this book to the avid reader. I plan to look for her other works.....enjoy....xcptnc (pronounced "acceptance")
Just when I thought I knew who the bad guy was, it changed ... several times!! Bad language was only used in appropriate place to tell us what kind of person we are dealing with. Not too much sexual discriptions to distract from the thrilling plot. I love it when I'm surprised at an ending, and I was!
I really enjoyed this book. I actually couldn't put it down. Every page was a new twist with something happening. You get to know the characters and feel their emotions, while wanting to hurry to the next page.One of the best books I've read in a long time.
I have not been a Tami Hoag fan. I've tried in the past to get into her books, but the books haven't clicked with me. Not so with this new series: setting in 1985, during the early criminal profiling era appealed to me as I lived it live myself. Also, extremely appealing is the character development of the two protagonists: Vince and Anne. They are attention grabbing characters with fascinating backgrounds and character traits. I could not get enough of those characters, and can't wait to read the next in this series. The voice of the characters is real; I found myself reading SLOWLY, just so the book would not end! Now, THAT is the mark of a terrific read!
The story is very fast paced, something you can't put down and forget about it for a hour. I had to read, breathe, sip my hot tea every now and then because that's how hot it was!! Hoag delivers punches after punches, and leaves you wondering what's next. Some of the characters - you can't help but feel sorry for. I enjoyed reading this book. This one was probably one of her best written books ever, and hope she continues in the same line with this. I'd be interested to see Mendez's character develop after the surprise ending of her book. Let's just say...the ending was a total mind-blowing surprise! I'm still trying to reel my head around it!
I am an avid reader of all the popular authors of fictional literature, and this is by far the most engulfing book I have ever read. From word one, I was hooked. I cannot remember another book having such a hold on me as this one did. 5 stars is not enough for this captivating story. Be prepared, dear readers, to feel your heart literally rise and fall in your chest. I finished the book in 5 days. A must read if you're a fan of the serial crime novel. BRAVO
CAN'T PUT IT DOWN...AM READING IT EVERY WHERE I GO, CAN'T WAIT TO SEE "WHO DONE IT"! WRITTEN SO WELL. IT IS LIKE YOU ARE ACTUALLY LIVING IT WITH THEM. CAN'T WAIT TO READ HER OTHER BOOKS NOW! MY GRANDAUGHTER IS READING A COPY I BOUGHT FOR HER AS WELL. SHE IS BEATING ME. SHE CAN'T WAIT TO FINISH IT AS WELL! WE DISCUSS THE BOOK AND TRY TO FIGURE WHO THE KILLER MAY BE. SO MUCH FUN AND WONDERFUL READING. GRUESOME, BUT THRILLING!
In a stunning return to writing, Tami Hoag changes the game by returning her readers to forensics of the past in "Deeper than the Dead". As fans, we find books cluttering the store shelves where protagonists need only turn on their blackberry to solve the most heinous crimes. It often seems to be a competition-similar to that of our favorite television shows-to offer us storylines that are more and more implausible yet easily solved using state-of-the-art technology. "Deeper than the Dead" returns us to a time where crimes are solved using instinct, people skills and good old-fashioned hard work. Without the benefit of computers or mobile devices, the authorities begin their manhunt when a small group of children stumbles upon the body of an unknown woman. In this small, peaceful California town-where families go to get away from crime-appearances are everything and the anxiety escalates as the body count rises and the suspect pool expands. Hoag's fans will agree that she has always had an amazing knack for creating strong, believable characters with interlocking plot lines but "Deeper than the Dead" displays a new chapter in this author's body of work. Readers will find themselves locked into a true gut wrenching suspense; surprised until the very end as unexpected turns remind us that books aren't always predictable. Reviewed by Suspense Magazine www.suspensemagazine.com
Four Families and a Serial Killer...Scary, intense with plenty of twists and turns! Worth your time!
When four children stumble across the body of a young, female, homicide victim in a local public park, lives are changed forever. Not only for the children but for the rest of the town as well. A community is rocked by the revelation of horror in the midst of their sleepy little town. Tami Hoag takes us on a page turning, nail biting ride through this tale and leaves us wondering what will become of the youths who were changed forever on that fateful day. (A great read, not to be passed by!)
An engaging thriller that that takes place in 1984, the dawn of modern criminal investigation tools that we now take for granted. No DNA tests, computer records, fingerprint matches done by eye alone and more. The FBI think tank "The Nine" are just starting to scientifically investigate crime, i.e. profiling, taking a closer look at the smaller but very important factors that make each crime unique. In a sleepy California college town, four fifth graders are running through a wooded park when one falls onto a murdered woman who is buried up to her neck. They react in different ways and are lucky to have a committed teacher that tries to help them deal with their gruesome discovery. She also winds up helping the police and FBI by providing a conduit for information. She finds out many secrets that lie behind the 'small town' facade. Will that prove to be the tipping point that leads to the solution? Can they solve the mystery before anyone else is killed?
I couldn't put this book down. I have read several of her books and this book is right up with her best.
OK, so I enjoy a serial killer thriller as much as the next guy. This one was even more fun to read because I was actually an adult in the mid-80s and remember these types of story-lines on TV shows. The absence of techno here makes the investigators efforts and thought processes a more central part of the story than many contemporary thrillers. Hoag renders a tight plot-line and keeps the story moving toward the inevitable discovery of the killer/killers. Standard, but well written and entertaining for an afternoon read.
Great book that will keep you reading til all hours! Three children & their teacher find the body of women and the local police discover they have a serial killer on the loose. The killings marks the end of innocence for a small California town in 1984 as the ties that bind families are tested by secrets yet uncovered and everyone is a suspect in these brutal killings. You will follow the lives of the teacher, the cops, the locals and the children who found the body, never ever figuring out who dunnit til the very last neatly wrapped up chapter. BRAVO!!! If you loved Guilty as Sin as much as I did, this one somehow tops it!
One of the best books Ive read! Picked it up on a whim and loved every page of it!
Great suspense novel. I just downloaded the next book in the series and can' t wait to start reading!
This is one of the best I've read in a long long time. Keeps you on the edge of your seat until the very end. You don't want to miss it.
Tami Hoag's Deeper than the Dead Is a definitely a keeper. The plot twists and turns and leaves you too horrified to turn the page- or put it down! I would recommend this book to all thrill seekers!
Tami Hoag did it again. The book is thrilling, rife with suspense and emotion. She explores the parent-child relationship, mostly abusive, and how it can mold and change us. I must admit, I had moments of true fear while I read and found I coudln't put the book down. I felt that I knew who the serial killer was the entire time, but she keeps throwing in suspects that make second guess ourselves--she literally keeps us guessing until the very end. I can't wait for her next book!
As usual, the latest book was great. It was exciting to the end. Wish it had been longer as I did not want to put it down. Keep up the good work Tami Hoag. You are one of my favorite authors who stays true to your books.
I have always liked Hoag books after I discovered them in paperback at a Walmart years ago. I then read everything she had written and anxiously await the next one. This was no exception. Many twists and turns and at the end you still wonder really who the bad guy was. Worth waiting for and a great read for all mystery readers.
I love Tami Hoag thrillers. Deeper Than the Dead was not disappointing. It was well written and very captivating. I found it difficult to put down. The plot of the story may seem typical to suspense novels, but the mystery of "who dunnit" was what made this book so great. With the information the author provides for the characters, you think you know what's going on, and then you're doubting yourself when faced with new facts. This book is a must for anyone who loves mystery/suspense.