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Night Sins

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Every once in a while a thriller comes along that stretches the limits of the genre and takes readers places they have never been before. There are the fears we hide deep inside where the real world isn't supposed to touch us. In the night - any night - these fears, terrors, and emotions can drive us to commit the darkest sins. Now there is an author who knows these secrets and has woven them into a relentlessly compelling thriller, a book of such page-turning power that it is time to declare there is a new ...
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Overview

Every once in a while a thriller comes along that stretches the limits of the genre and takes readers places they have never been before. There are the fears we hide deep inside where the real world isn't supposed to touch us. In the night - any night - these fears, terrors, and emotions can drive us to commit the darkest sins. Now there is an author who knows these secrets and has woven them into a relentlessly compelling thriller, a book of such page-turning power that it is time to declare there is a new modern master of suspense - and her name is Tami Hoag. Deer Lake is a small Minnesota town where people know their neighbors and crime is something that happens on the evening news. But the illusion of safety is shattered when eight-year-old Josh Kirkwood disappears from a hockey rink as he waits for his mother to pick him up after practice. The only thing the police find is his duffel bag with a note stuffed inside: ignorance is not innocence but SIN. With each passing hour the search for Josh takes on a more ominous intensity. For Megan O'Malley, the new regional officer of the state criminal investigative unit, it is the first test of whether she can cut it in the all-male world of local cops. For police chief Mitch Holt, it is a frightening reminder of the big city crime that devastated his life before he fled to Deer Lake. All the while someone watches, preparing the next move in a deadly game to which only he knows the rules, a game of terrifying clues leading to one final twist of the trail - and a snare set by a warped mind as black as death, as guilty as sin....
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in a pastoral Minnesota small town, Hoag's thriller has an ill-matched pair of detectives trying to trace a sadistic kidnapper. (Jan.)
Library Journal
This well-crafted romantic suspense novel by the author of Lucky's Lady (Bantam, 1992) is a tautly written account of life in a small Minnesota town. Megan O'Malley, the first female field officer of the state's criminal investigation bureau, is forced into a close working relationship with Mitch Holt, the town's police chief, when a child goes missing. Against the background of a multijurisdictional criminal investigation, dialog and plot flow smoothly, and elements of romantic tension that serve to define the characters further are seamlessly inserted into the basic mystery/suspense theme. Current news topics, such as the presence of known pedophiles in a community and the problems of childcare in homes with two working parents, help fuel important subplots. The investigatory techniques are all presented intelligently and provide a strong framework for this gripping suspense tale. Highly recommended for current fiction collections.-Erna Chamberlain, SUNY at Binghamton
Library Journal
An eight-year-old boy disappears from a small town in Minnesota. The same day, Megan O'Malley begins her new job in town as the first woman field agent for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. She feels the pressure to perform with distinction. The chief of police is fairly open-minded, but the county sheriff, the local news reporter, and the father of the missing boy are somewhat less than liberated. Old personal business and new personal relationships play out against the race to find the boy and his kidnapper. Hoag's story follows a fairly predictable formula: the characters are clearly good or bad; good triumphs over evil. Read by Joyce Bean, this is an enjoyable potboiler; recommended for fiction collections.-Joanna M. Burkhardt, Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Univ. of Rhode Island, Providence Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
“One of the most intense suspense writers around.”—Chicago Tribune

“Tami Hoag is the queen of the crime story.”—New York Post
 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568760582
  • Publisher: Soundlines Entertainment, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: 2 Cassettes
  • Product dimensions: 4.13 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Tami Hoag

Tami Hoag is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous thrillers including Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes, Night Sins, Cry Wolf, Dark Paradise and Still Waters. She lives in Virginia.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


January 12, 1994. Day 1
5:26 p.m. 22¡

Josh Kirkwood and his two best buddies burst out of the locker room, flying into the cold, dark late afternoon, hollering at the tops of their lungs. Their breath billowed out in rolling clouds of steam. They flung themselves off the steps like mountain goat kids leaping from ledge to ledge and landed hip-deep in the snow on the side of the hill. Hockey sticks skittered down, gear bags sliding after. Then came the Three Amigos, squealing and giggling, tucked into balls of wild-colored ski jackets and bright stocking caps.

The Three Amigos. That was what Brian's dad called them. Brian's family had moved to Deer Lake, Minnesota, from Denver, Colorado, and his dad was still a big Broncos fan. He said the Broncos used to have some wide receivers called the Three Amigos and they were really good. Josh was a Vikings fan. As far as he was concerned, every other team was just a bunch of wusses, except maybe the Raiders, 'cause their uniforms were cool. He didn't like the Broncos, but he liked the nickname—the Three Amigos.

"We are the Three Amigos!" Matt yelled as they landed in a heap at the bottom of the hill. He threw back his head and howled like a wolf. Brian and Josh joined in, and the racket was so terrible it made Josh's ears ring.

Brian fell into a fit of uncontrollable giggles. Matt flopped onto his back and started making a snow angel, swinging his arms and legs in wide arcs, looking as if he were trying to swim back up the hill. Josh pushed himself to his feet and shook like a dog as Coach Olsen came out of the ice arena.

Coach was old—at least forty-five—kind of fat and mostly bald, but he was a good coach. He yelled a lot, but he laughed a lot, too. He told them at the beginning of hockey season that if he got too cranky they were to remind him they were only eight years old. The team had picked Josh for that job. He was one of the co-captains, a responsibility that pleased him a lot even though he would never say so. Nobody liked a bragger, Mom said. If you did your job well, there wasn't any reason to brag. A good job would speak for itself.

Coach Olsen started down the steps, tugging down the earflaps of his hunting cap. The end of his nose was red from the cold. His breath came out of his mouth and went up around his head like smoke from a chimney. "You guys have rides home tonight?"

They answered all at once, vying for the coach's attention by being loud and silly. He laughed and held his gloved hands up in surrender. "All right, all right! The rink's open if you get cold waiting. Olie's inside if you need to use the phone."

Then Coach jumped into his girlfriend's car, the way he did every Wednesday, and off they went to have dinner at Grandma's Attic downtown. Wednesday was Grandma's famous meat loaf night. All-U-Can-Eat, it said on the menu. Josh imagined Coach Olsen could eat a lot.

Cars rumbled around the circular drive in front of the Gordie Knutson Memorial Arena, a parade of minivans and station wagons, doors banging, exhaust pipes coughing. Kids from the various Squirt League teams chucked their sticks and equipment in trunks and hatches and climbed into the cars with their moms or dads, talking a mile a minute about the plays and drills they had worked on in practice.

Matt's mom pulled up in their new Transport, a wedge-shaped thing that to Josh looked like something from Star Trek. Matt scrambled for his gear and dashed across the sidewalk, calling a good-bye over his shoulder. His mother, wearing a bright red stocking cap, buzzed down the passenger window.

"Josh, Brian—you guys have rides?"

"My mom's coming," Josh answered, suddenly feeling eager to see her. She would pick him up on her way home from the hospital and they would stop at the Leaning Tower of Pizza to get supper and she would want to hear all about practice. Really want to hear. Not like Dad. Lately, Dad just pretended to listen. Sometimes he even snapped at Josh to be quiet. He always apologized later, but it still made Josh feel bad.

"My sister's coming," Brian called. "My sister, Beth Butt-head," he added under his breath as Mrs. Connor drove away.

"You're the butt-head," Josh teased, shoving him.

Brian shoved back, laughing, three big gaps showing in his mouth where teeth had been. "Butt-head!"

"Butt-breath!"

"Butt-face!"

Brian scooped up a mitten full of snow and tossed it in Josh's face, then turned and ran up the snow-packed sidewalk, bounded up the steps, and dashed around the side of the brick building. Josh let out a war whoop and bolted after him. Immediately they were so involved in their game of Attack, the rest of the world ceased to exist. One boy hunted the other to deliver a snowball up close in the face, in the back, down the neck of the jacket. After a successful attack the roles reversed and the hunter became the hunted. If the hunter couldn't find the hunted in a count of a hundred, the hunted scored a point.

Josh was good at hiding. He was small for his age and he was smart, a combination that served him well in games like Attack. He smashed Brian in the back of the head with a snowball, whirled and ran. Before Brian had shaken the snow off his coat, Josh was safely tucked behind the air-conditioning units that squatted beside the building. The cylinders were covered with canvas for the winter months and blocked the wind. They sat well back along the side of the building, where the streetlights didn't quite reach. Josh watched as Brian ventured cautiously around a Dumpster, snowball in hand, pouncing at a shadow, then drawing back. Josh smiled to himself. He had found the all-time best hiding place. He licked the tip of a gloved forefinger and drew himself a point in the air.

Brian homed in on one of the overgrown bushes that lined the edge of the parking lot and separated the ice rink grounds from the fairgrounds. Tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, he crept toward it. He hoped Josh hadn't gone farther than the hedges. The fairgrounds was the creepiest place in the world this time of year, when all the old buildings stood dark and empty and the wind howled around them.

A car horn blared and Brian swung around, heart pounding. He groaned in disappointment as his sister's Rabbit pulled up around the curve.

"Come on, hurry up, Brian! I've got pageant practice tonight!"

"But—"

"But nothing, twerp!" Beth Hiatt snapped. The wind whipped a strand of long blond hair across her face and she snagged it back behind her ear with a bare hand white with cold. "Get your little butt in the car!"

Brian heaved a sigh and dropped his snowball, then trudged toward his gear bag and hockey stick. Beth the Bitch raced the Rabbit's motor, put the car in gear, and let it lurch ahead on the drive, as if she might just leave him behind. She had done that once before and they had both gotten hollered at, but Brian had gotten the worst of it because Beth blamed him for getting her in trouble and spent four days tormenting him for it. Instantly forgetting his game and the remaining amigo, he grabbed his stuff and ran for the car, already plotting ways to get his sister back for being such a snot.

Behind the air-conditioning units, Josh heard Beth Hiatt's voice. He heard the car doors slam and he heard the Rabbit roar around the circle drive. So much for the game.

He crawled out of his hiding spot and went back around the front of the building. The parking lot was empty except for Olie's old rusted-out Chevy van. The next practice didn't start for an hour. The circular drive was empty. Packed over the asphalt by countless tires, the snow gleamed in the glow of the streetlights, as hard and shiny as milky-white marble. Josh tugged off his left glove and shoved up the sleeve of his ski jacket to peer at the watch Uncle Tim had sent him for Christmas. Big and black with lots of dials and buttons, it looked like something a scuba diver might wear—or a commando. Sometimes Josh pretended that he was a commando, a man on a mission, waiting to meet with the world's most dangerous spy. The numbers on the watch face glowed green in the dark: 5:45.

Josh looked down the street, expecting to see headlights, expecting to see the minivan with his mom at the wheel. But the street was dark. The only lights glowed dimly out the windows of houses that lined the block. Inside those houses, people were having supper and watching the news and talking about their day. Outside, the only sound was the buzz of the street lamps and the cold wind rattling the dry, bare branches of winter-dead trees. The sky was black.

He was alone.

5:17 p.m. 22¡

She nearly escaped. She had her coat halfway on, purse slung over her shoulder, gloves and car keys clutched in one hand. She hurried down the hall toward the west side door of the hospital, staring straight ahead, telling herself if she didn't make eye contact, she wouldn't be caught, she would be invisible, she would escape.

I sound like Josh. That's the kind of game he likes—what if we could make ourselves invisible?

A smile curved Hannah's lips. Josh and his imagination. Last night she'd found him in Lily's room, telling his sister an adventure story about Zeek the Meek and Super Duper, characters Hannah had made up in stories for Josh when he was a toddler. He was passing on the tradition, telling the tale with great enthusiasm while Lily sat in her crib and sucked her thumb, her blue eyes wide with astonishment, hanging on her brother's every word.

I've got two great kids. Two for the plus column. I'll take what I can get these days.

The smile faded and tension tightened in Hannah's stomach. She blinked hard and realized she was just standing there at the end of the hall with her coat half on. Rand Bekker, head of maintenance, shouldered his way through the door, letting in a blast of crisp air. A burly man with a full red beard, he pulled off a flame-orange hunting cap and shook himself like a big wet ox, as if he could shake off the chill.

"Hiya, Dr. Garrison. Decent night out there."

"Is it?" She smiled automatically, blankly, as if she were speaking with a stranger. But there were no strangers at Deer Lake Community Hospital. Everyone knew everyone.

"You bet. It's looking good for Snowdaze."

Rand grinned, his anticipation for the festival as plain as a child's eagerness for Christmas morning. Snowdaze was big doings in a town the size of Deer Lake, an excuse for the fifteen thousand residents to break the monotony of Minnesota's long winter. Hannah tried to find some enthusiasm. She knew Josh was looking forward to Snowdaze, especially the torchlight parade. But it was difficult for her to feel festive these days.

For the most part, she felt tired, drained, dispirited. And stretched over it all was a thin film of desperation, like plastic wrap, because she couldn't let any of those feelings show. People depended on her, looked up to her, thought of her as a model for working women. Hannah Garrison: doctor, wife, mother, woman of the year; juggling all the demanding roles with skill and ease and a beauty queen smile. Lately the titles had felt as heavy as bowling balls and her arms were growing weary.

"Rough day?"

"What?" She jerked her attention back to Rand. "I'm sorry, Rand. Yeah, it's been one of those days."

"I better let you go, then. I got a hot date with a boiler."

Hannah murmured good-bye as Bekker pulled open a door marked Maintenance Staff Only and disappeared through it, leaving her alone in the hall. Her inner voice, the voice of the little goblin that kept the cling wrap pulled tight over her emotions, gave a shout.

Go! Go now! Escape while you can! Get away!

She had to pick up Josh. They would stop and get a pizza, then go on to the sitter's for Lily. After supper she had to drive Josh to religion class. . . . But her body refused to bolt in response. Then the great escape was lost.

"Dr. Garrison to ER. Dr. Garrison to ER."

That selfish part of her prodded once more, telling her she could still get away. She wasn't on call tonight, had no patients in the hundred-bed facility who were in critical need of her personal attention. There was no one here to see her escape. She could leave the work to the doctor on duty, Craig Lomax, who believed he had been set on earth to rush to the aid of mere mortals and comfort them with his cover-boy looks. Hannah wasn't even the backup tonight. But guilt came directly on the heels of those thoughts. She had taken an oath to serve. It didn't matter that she'd seen enough sore throats and bruised bodies to last her one day. She had a duty—a bigger one now that the hospital board had named her director of the ER. The people of Deer Lake depended on her.

The page sounded again. Hannah heaved a sigh and felt tears warm the backs of her eyes. She was exhausted—physically, emotionally. She needed this night off, a night with just herself and the kids; with Paul working late, keeping his moods and his sarcasm in his office instead of inflicting them on the family.

A wavy strand of honey-blond hair escaped her loose ponytail and fell limply against her cheek. She sighed and brushed it back behind her ear as she stared out the door to the parking lot that looked sepia-toned beneath the halogen lights.

"Dr. Garrison to ER. Dr. Garrison to ER."

She slipped her coat off and folded it over her arm.

"God, there you are!" Kathleen Casey blurted out as she skidded around the corner and hustled down the hall, the tails of her white lab coat sailing behind her. The thick, cushioned soles of her running shoes made almost no sound on the polished floor. Not a fraction of an inch over five feet, the nurse had a leprechaun's features, a shock of thick red hair, and the tenacity of a pit bull. Her uniform consisted of surgical scrubs and a pin that proclaimed No Whining. She drew a bead on Hannah that had all the power of a tractor beam.

Hannah tried to muster a wry smile. "Sorry. God may be a woman, but she's not this woman."

Kathleen gave a snort as she curled a hand around Hannah's upper arm. "You'll do."

"Can't Craig handle it?"

"Maybe, but we'd rather have a higher life form with opposable thumbs."

"I'm not even on call tonight. I have to pick up Josh from hockey. Call Dr. Baskir—"

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Chapter 1

January 12, 1994. Day 1

5:26 p.m. 22¡

Josh Kirkwood and his two best buddies burst out of the locker room, flying into the cold, dark late afternoon, hollering at the tops of their lungs. Their breath billowed out in rolling clouds of steam. They flung themselves off the steps like mountain goat kids leaping from ledge to ledge and landed hip-deep in the snow on the side of the hill. Hockey sticks skittered down, gear bags sliding after. Then came the Three Amigos, squealing and giggling, tucked into balls of wild-colored ski jackets and bright stocking caps.

The Three Amigos. That was what Brian's dad called them. Brian's family had moved to Deer Lake, Minnesota, from Denver, Colorado, and his dad was still a big Broncos fan. He said the Broncos used to have some wide receivers called the Three Amigos and they were really good. Josh was a Vikings fan. As far as he was concerned, every other team was just a bunch of wusses, except maybe the Raiders, 'cause their uniforms were cool. He didn't like the Broncos, but he liked the nickname--the Three Amigos.

"We are the Three Amigos!" Matt yelled as they landed in a heap at the bottom of the hill. He threw back his head and howled like a wolf. Brian and Josh joined in, and the racket was so terrible it made Josh's ears ring.

Brian fell into a fit of uncontrollable giggles. Matt flopped onto his back and started making a snow angel, swinging his arms and legs in wide arcs, looking as if he were trying to swim back up the hill. Josh pushed himself to his feet and shook like a dog as Coach Olsen came out of the ice arena.

Coach was old--at least forty-five--kind of fat and mostlybald, but he was a good coach. He yelled a lot, but he laughed a lot, too. He told them at the beginning of hockey season that if he got too cranky they were to remind him they were only eight years old. The team had picked Josh for that job. He was one of the co-captains, a responsibility that pleased him a lot even though he would never say so. Nobody liked a bragger, Mom said. If you did your job well, there wasn't any reason to brag. A good job would speak for itself.

Coach Olsen started down the steps, tugging down the earflaps of his hunting cap. The end of his nose was red from the cold. His breath came out of his mouth and went up around his head like smoke from a chimney. "You guys have rides home tonight?"

They answered all at once, vying for the coach's attention by being loud and silly. He laughed and held his gloved hands up in surrender. "All right, all right! The rink's open if you get cold waiting. Olie's inside if you need to use the phone."

Then Coach jumped into his girlfriend's car, the way he did every Wednesday, and off they went to have dinner at Grandma's Attic downtown. Wednesday was Grandma's famous meat loaf night. All-U-Can-Eat, it said on the menu. Josh imagined Coach Olsen could eat a lot.

Cars rumbled around the circular drive in front of the Gordie Knutson Memorial Arena, a parade of minivans and station wagons, doors banging, exhaust pipes coughing. Kids from the various Squirt League teams chucked their sticks and equipment in trunks and hatches and climbed into the cars with their moms or dads, talking a mile a minute about the plays and drills they had worked on in practice.

Matt's mom pulled up in their new Transport, a wedge-shaped thing that to Josh looked like something from Star Trek. Matt scrambled for his gear and dashed across the sidewalk, calling a good-bye over his shoulder. His mother, wearing a bright red stocking cap, buzzed down the passenger window.

"Josh, Brian--you guys have rides?"

"My mom's coming," Josh answered, suddenly feeling eager to see her. She would pick him up on her way home from the hospital and they would stop at the Leaning Tower of Pizza to get supper and she would want to hear all about practice. Really want to hear. Not like Dad. Lately, Dad just pretended to listen. Sometimes he even snapped at Josh to be quiet. He always apologized later, but it still made Josh feel bad.

"My sister's coming," Brian called. "My sister, Beth Butt-head," he added under his breath as Mrs. Connor drove away.

"You're the butt-head," Josh teased, shoving him.

Brian shoved back, laughing, three big gaps showing in his mouth where teeth had been. "Butt-head!"

"Butt-breath!"

"Butt-face!"

Brian scooped up a mitten full of snow and tossed it in Josh's face, then turned and ran up the snow-packed sidewalk, bounded up the steps, and dashed around the side of the brick building. Josh let out a war whoop and bolted after him. Immediately they were so involved in their game of Attack, the rest of the world ceased to exist. One boy hunted the other to deliver a snowball up close in the face, in the back, down the neck of the jacket. After a successful attack the roles reversed and the hunter became the hunted. If the hunter couldn't find the hunted in a count of a hundred, the hunted scored a point.

Josh was good at hiding. He was small for his age and he was smart, a combination that served him well in games like Attack. He smashed Brian in the back of the head with a snowball, whirled and ran. Before Brian had shaken the snow off his coat, Josh was safely tucked behind the air-conditioning units that squatted beside the building. The cylinders were covered with canvas for the winter months and blocked the wind. They sat well back along the side of the building, where the streetlights didn't quite reach. Josh watched as Brian ventured cautiously around a Dumpster, snowball in hand, pouncing at a shadow, then drawing back. Josh smiled to himself. He had found the all-time best hiding place. He licked the tip of a gloved forefinger and drew himself a point in the air.

Brian homed in on one of the overgrown bushes that lined the edge of the parking lot and separated the ice rink grounds from the fairgrounds. Tongue sticking out the side of his mouth, he crept toward it. He hoped Josh hadn't gone farther than the hedges. The fairgrounds was the creepiest place in the world this time of year, when all the old buildings stood dark and empty and the wind howled around them.

A car horn blared and Brian swung around, heart pounding. He groaned in disappointment as his sister's Rabbit pulled up around the curve.

"Come on, hurry up, Brian! I've got pageant practice tonight!"

"But--"

"But nothing, twerp!" Beth Hiatt snapped. The wind whipped a strand of long blond hair across her face and she snagged it back behind her ear with a bare hand white with cold. "Get your little butt in the car!"

Brian heaved a sigh and dropped his snowball, then trudged toward his gear bag and hockey stick. Beth the Bitch raced the Rabbit's motor, put the car in gear, and let it lurch ahead on the drive, as if she might just leave him behind. She had done that once before and they had both gotten hollered at, but Brian had gotten the worst of it because Beth blamed him for getting her in trouble and spent four days tormenting him for it. Instantly forgetting his game and the remaining amigo, he grabbed his stuff and ran for the car, already plotting ways to get his sister back for being such a snot.

Behind the air-conditioning units, Josh heard Beth Hiatt's voice. He heard the car doors slam and he heard the Rabbit roar around the circle drive. So much for the game.

He crawled out of his hiding spot and went back around the front of the building. The parking lot was empty except for Olie's old rusted-out Chevy van. The next practice didn't start for an hour. The circular drive was empty. Packed over the asphalt by countless tires, the snow gleamed in the glow of the streetlights, as hard and shiny as milky-white marble. Josh tugged off his left glove and shoved up the sleeve of his ski jacket to peer at the watch Uncle Tim had sent him for Christmas. Big and black with lots of dials and buttons, it looked like something a scuba diver might wear--or a commando. Sometimes Josh pretended that he was a commando, a man on a mission, waiting to meet with the world's most dangerous spy. The numbers on the watch face glowed green in the dark: 5:45.

Josh looked down the street, expecting to see headlights, expecting to see the minivan with his mom at the wheel. But the street was dark. The only lights glowed dimly out the windows of houses that lined the block. Inside those houses, people were having supper and watching the news and talking about their day. Outside, the only sound was the buzz of the street lamps and the cold wind rattling the dry, bare branches of winter-dead trees. The sky was black.

He was alone.



5:17 p.m. 22¡



She nearly escaped. She had her coat halfway on, purse slung over her shoulder, gloves and car keys clutched in one hand. She hurried down the hall toward the west side door of the hospital, staring straight ahead, telling herself if she didn't make eye contact, she wouldn't be caught, she would be invisible, she would escape.

I sound like Josh. That's the kind of game he likes--what if we could make ourselves invisible?

A smile curved Hannah's lips. Josh and his imagination. Last night she'd found him in Lily's room, telling his sister an adventure story about Zeek the Meek and Super Duper, characters Hannah had made up in stories for Josh when he was a toddler. He was passing on the tradition, telling the tale with great enthusiasm while Lily sat in her crib and sucked her thumb, her blue eyes wide with astonishment, hanging on her brother's every word.

I've got two great kids. Two for the plus column. I'll take what I can get these days.

The smile faded and tension tightened in Hannah's stomach. She blinked hard and realized she was just standing there at the end of the hall with her coat half on. Rand Bekker, head of maintenance, shouldered his way through the door, letting in a blast of crisp air. A burly man with a full red beard, he pulled off a flame-orange hunting cap and shook himself like a big wet ox, as if he could shake off the chill.

"Hiya, Dr. Garrison. Decent night out there."

"Is it?" She smiled automatically, blankly, as if she were speaking with a stranger. But there were no strangers at Deer Lake Community Hospital. Everyone knew everyone.

"You bet. It's looking good for Snowdaze."

Rand grinned, his anticipation for the festival as plain as a child's eagerness for Christmas morning. Snowdaze was big doings in a town the size of Deer Lake, an excuse for the fifteen thousand residents to break the monotony of Minnesota's long winter. Hannah tried to find some enthusiasm. She knew Josh was looking forward to Snowdaze, especially the torchlight parade. But it was difficult for her to feel festive these days.

For the most part, she felt tired, drained, dispirited. And stretched over it all was a thin film of desperation, like plastic wrap, because she couldn't let any of those feelings show. People depended on her, looked up to her, thought of her as a model for working women. Hannah Garrison: doctor, wife, mother, woman of the year; juggling all the demanding roles with skill and ease and a beauty queen smile. Lately the titles had felt as heavy as bowling balls and her arms were growing weary.

"Rough day?"

"What?" She jerked her attention back to Rand. "I'm sorry, Rand. Yeah, it's been one of those days."

"I better let you go, then. I got a hot date with a boiler."

Hannah murmured good-bye as Bekker pulled open a door marked Maintenance Staff Only and disappeared through it, leaving her alone in the hall. Her inner voice, the voice of the little goblin that kept the cling wrap pulled tight over her emotions, gave a shout.

Go! Go now! Escape while you can! Get away!

She had to pick up Josh. They would stop and get a pizza, then go on to the sitter's for Lily. After supper she had to drive Josh to religion class. . . . But her body refused to bolt in response. Then the great escape was lost.

"Dr. Garrison to ER. Dr. Garrison to ER."

That selfish part of her prodded once more, telling her she could still get away. She wasn't on call tonight, had no patients in the hundred-bed facility who were in critical need of her personal attention. There was no one here to see her escape. She could leave the work to the doctor on duty, Craig Lomax, who believed he had been set on earth to rush to the aid of mere mortals and comfort them with his cover-boy looks. Hannah wasn't even the backup tonight. But guilt came directly on the heels of those thoughts. She had taken an oath to serve. It didn't matter that she'd seen enough sore throats and bruised bodies to last her one day. She had a duty--a bigger one now that the hospital board had named her director of the ER. The people of Deer Lake depended on her.

The page sounded again. Hannah heaved a sigh and felt tears warm the backs of her eyes. She was exhausted--physically, emotionally. She needed this night off, a night with just herself and the kids; with Paul working late, keeping his moods and his sarcasm in his office instead of inflicting them on the family.

A wavy strand of honey-blond hair escaped her loose ponytail and fell limply against her cheek. She sighed and brushed it back behind her ear as she stared out the door to the parking lot that looked sepia-toned beneath the halogen lights.

"Dr. Garrison to ER. Dr. Garrison to ER."

She slipped her coat off and folded it over her arm.

"God, there you are!" Kathleen Casey blurted out as she skidded around the corner and hustled down the hall, the tails of her white lab coat sailing behind her. The thick, cushioned soles of her running shoes made almost no sound on the polished floor. Not a fraction of an inch over five feet, the nurse had a leprechaun's features, a shock of thick red hair, and the tenacity of a pit bull. Her uniform consisted of surgical scrubs and a pin that proclaimed No Whining. She drew a bead on Hannah that had all the power of a tractor beam.

Hannah tried to muster a wry smile. "Sorry. God may be a woman, but she's not this woman."

Kathleen gave a snort as she curled a hand around Hannah's upper arm. "You'll do."

"Can't Craig handle it?"

"Maybe, but we'd rather have a higher life form with opposable thumbs."

"I'm not even on call tonight. I have to pick up Josh from hockey. Call Dr. Baskir--"
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 95 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(42)

4 Star

(27)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(12)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 95 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 1999

    Good read

    Excellent book.. couldn't put it down! Was just a teensy disappointed in the ending, but there is a sequel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Good for light reading...

    This is the first book I've read from Tami Hoag. It's terrific for light reading, but it's certainly not a mind bender. I've enjoyed the twists and turns in this "whodunnit" mystery, and it's definately a page turner! The love scenes are a little hokey, like something out of a romance novel. But, the characters have true personality - you either love them or hate them! I'm definately willing to try some of Tami Hoag's other books, with hopes they'll be addictive page turners as well!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 29, 2010

    Book was just ok...it had the potential to be so much better.

    Keep in mind while reading this book there will be no closure. You must read Guilty as Sin to find out who done it. Fortunately I bought the double volume of both books. That was a total of 1,130 pages to find out who done it...ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! Definitely too long for the story line...it could have been written in 600 pages or less.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Awful

    Ok...worst book I have read in a long time. The ending sucked...if you can even call it an ending. It didn't really even end.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2007

    The Quiet before the storm????

    I recently took a break from reading the awesome romance novels and jumped into Tami Hoag's novel 'Night Sins'. This is an awesome horror story about a small town and a little boy of 8 being kidnapped. Tami had a lot of twist and turns in her novel that kept you guessing about who did the kidnapping. It's also a great story about letting go of the past horrific events and being able to move on. Tami did a wonderful job in writing this great suspensful novel. Thanks Tami!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2006

    Don't bother

    Normally I enjoy Tami's books. This is the first one to disappoint, and boy, what a disappointment! The two main characters have about as much chemistry together as George W. Bush and Al Gore. They just never meshed well for me. The book leaves the reader with many loose ends and many unanswered questions. Also the story was extremely drawn out. I found myself skipping over paragraphs to get to the meat of the story, and even at one point considered just reading the end to see 'who done it', which by the way is something I NEVER do. If you want to read a good Tami Hoag book with likeable characters and a good story line try 'Lucky's Lady'. I highly recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    Big Fan

    This was the first Tami Hoag book I read almost 15 years ago....been a fan ever since. Havent read one I didnt like.....all are page turners with some twisted plots....she keeps you guessing. I usuallyfind myself not wanting the book to end

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2013

    Keeps you on your toes

    This was the first book that I read by Tami Hoag. I really enjoyed this book as well as the romance that occurs in it. Over all it kept me guessing and wondering who did it every step of the way. I do feel that it could have been written just as well if it was shorter. It kept me up a couple nights to the wee hours of the morning because i just needed to know who did it, but that never came. Little to say at 3:15 AM I was a little mad. I would have liked if it had an ending, this book really did not have any closure what so ever. I felt this was a dissapointment. I guess I have to read the follow up book to get my ending.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 25, 2013

    I loved this book. The characters were awesome some you loved



    I loved this book. The characters were awesome some you loved and some you loved to hate. The mystery was thrilling from beginning to end. I can't wait to read the sequel.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    Seriously??

    This book started off well, but ended terribly! What a waste of time! SPOILER ALERT: Josh lives.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 23, 2012

    Great Book, I would really recommend this

    I liked this book very much and have purchased more of this author, she is an awesome writer. I will purchase more of her books.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome read!!

    This book touched on everything thats scary! A great and captivating read from beginning to end. I've just purchased Guilty as Sin and cannot wait to dive in!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    not worth buying!!!!

    Wow! what a waste of money this is!!!! I only made it to page 60. I felt like I was reading a cheesy romance novel, were they try to fit in sexual tension anywhere even if it doesn't make sense! The scene on page 60 is just retarded. This is the first Tami Hoag book I ever bought, and honestly don't think I will buy one of her books again. Wasted money! It was just a silly book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2008

    First book I read by Hoag

    The book was fair, but I think that Michael Connelly has upped my expectations a bit for this type of story (romance set aside- no romance really when it comes to Michael) I recently discovered his books...Anyway- I was worried almost immediately that I would not like the lead character after her line-badly timed joke-about the person she replaced. (page 25). I found it completely thoughtless and it made me almost dislike her immediately. As for Mitch, I totally got that he would let himself get rusty/let himself lose his edge, but he did not seem to grow the way he should have. I think the author could have done a much better job with this/missed a good opportunity there. I found myself asking if he was ever a good cop. I will read the sequel that I think is out there, but not sure if I will become a Tami Hoag fan.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2006

    Outstanding!

    I fell in love with Night Sins while being lazy on a saturday and watching part of the movie on TNT. When i bought the book, i was very eager to read it! I acctually got hooked on it, and was spending more time reading than anything else. I reccomend this book to absolutley anyone who reads for fun and loves a good thriller. Also, for those of you who say that the book left you with unsolved questions, you might want to try reading the sequal. Anyway, I hope to be reading more of Tami Hoags books soon and i am hoping to find one as good as Night Sins!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2006

    page turning

    I enjoyed this book.I didn't want to put it down until I knew the end.It was a combination of a weird, complicated romance and suspense.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2006

    novel just doesn't work

    I wrote a 'kind of' personal review of Hoag's book a few days ago, but to be honest, I couldn't even finish it. I reached page 200-or-so and threw it in the closet -- such was my disgust. I don't know whether the book is suspense or Harlequin romance, and the suspense just didn't build at all. The whole thing was a string of stereotypes, hackneyed writing and characters, 'telegraphed' plotting. When Hoag actually has some possible suspense, she lets it get away. Major, major disappointment for me.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2006

    AWESOME READ!

    Great story and characters. A real page turner! I could not put this book down!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2005

    A Must Read

    Excellent. Definitely a book everyone should read. Couldn't put it down. Very suspenseful and thrilling. Makes you look over your shoulder. Gives you goosebumps.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2004

    Excellent!

    This is the best book I have ever read. I bought it one night, and stayed up til 4 am to finish it. Once you read the first chapter, you will read the rest. The climax has you on the edge of your seat. The chemisrty between the charcters is just out of this world!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 95 Customer Reviews

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