The 9th Girl (Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska Series #4)

The 9th Girl (Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska Series #4)

4.2 120
by Tami Hoag

View All Available Formats & Editions

#1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag brings back her fan-favorite Minneapolis investigators Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska in the haunting new thriller The 9th Girl.

"Kovac had seen more dead bodies than he could count: Men, women, children; victims of shootings, stabbings, strangulations, beatings; fresh corpses and bodies that


#1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag brings back her fan-favorite Minneapolis investigators Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska in the haunting new thriller The 9th Girl.

"Kovac had seen more dead bodies than he could count: Men, women, children; victims of shootings, stabbings, strangulations, beatings; fresh corpses and bodies that had been left for days in the trunks of cars in the dead of summer. But he had never seen anything quite like this . . . "
On a frigid New Year's Eve in Minneapolis a young woman's brutalized body falls from the trunk of a car into the path of oncoming traffic. Questions as to whether she was alive or dead when she hit the icy pavement result in her macabre nickname, Zombie Doe. Unidentified and unidentifiable, she is the ninth nameless female victim of the year, and homicide detectives Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska are charged with the task of not only finding out who Zombie Doe is, but who in her life hated her enough to destroy her. Was it personal, or could it just have been a crime of opportunity? Their greatest fear is that not only is she their ninth Jane Doe of the year, but that she may be the ninth victim of a vicious transient serial killer they have come to call Doc Holiday.
Crisscrossing America's heartland, Doc Holiday chooses his victims at random, snatching them in one city and leaving them in another, always on a holiday. If Zombie Doe is one of his, he has brought his gruesome game to a new and more terrifying level. But as Kovac and Liska begin to uncover the truth, they will find that the monsters in their ninth girl's life may have lived closer to home. And even as another young woman disappears, they have to ask the question: which is the greater evil—the devil you know or the devil you don't?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In bestseller Hoag’s gripping fourth outing for Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska, the two Minneapolis homicide cops (last seen in 2006’s Prior Bad Acts) have a difficult time identifying the horribly mutilated body of an adolescent girl that popped from the trunk of a moving car on New Year’s Eve. The unidentified girl is the ninth Jane Doe of the year in the Minneapolis area, possibly the victim of a serial killer who Kovac has dubbed “Doc Holiday” because all the murders were committed on or near a holiday. The task for Liska is magnified by the troubles her 15-year-old son, Kyle, is having at school with bullies. Kovac and Liska pursue leads jointly and separately as one sees the work of a serial killer and the other a crime perhaps unrelated to Doc Holiday. By the surprising conclusion, the investigation has uncovered chilling tragedy and banal evil in almost equal proportions. Agent: Andrea Cirillo. Jane Rotrosen Agency. (June)
From the Publisher
Praise for THE 9TH GIRL

“Hoag’s prose is martial-arts quick and precise, her humor is high-voltage, and her insights into the misery of high school, the toxicity of divorce, and the extreme psychosis of a serial killer are knowing and thought-provoking…one of her very best.” - Booklist

"The 9th cannily plotted and peppered with some of the sharpest dialogue in the business." - Entertainment Weekly 

"Outstanding! Tami Hoag continues to set the standard for excellence in her genre." - Suspense Magazine 

"Gripping"- Publishers Weekly

Praise for Down the Darkest Road:

“A mesmerizing psychological drama on loss, guilt, frustration and implacable, unexplainable evil.” - Kirkus

“Hoag keeps tight control over her plot in this book, raising the tension with every page that turns. She knows her characters, both good and bad, and intensifies the conflict in the most absorbing way. Not every writer of suspense can manage it so successfully, but Hoag does it from beginning to end.” —Huffington Post 

“Newcomers will have no trouble getting into this suspense novel rich in pre-DNA detecting methods.” —  Publishers Weekly 

“…the story zooms along to a satisfyingly creepy conclusion.” — USA Today

“Once again, bestselling Hoag plots craftily and creates characters readers root for.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred) 

"The chilling premise and exciting twists make Hoag's thriller in every sense of the word. Guaranteed to be in high demand" - Booklist

“Stunning…Here [Hoag] stands above the competition, creating complex characters who evolve more than those in most thrillers. The breathtaking plot twists are perfectly paced in this compulsive page-turner.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“One of the most intense suspense writers around.” —Chicago Tribune

Library Journal
Minneapolis investigators Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska starred in Hoag's two biggest hits, Ashes to Ashes and Dust to Dust, but haven't been around for the past half-dozen years. Now they're back, worrying about Jane Doe 9, the ninth unidentified body found in Minneapolis in 2012. It takes some work, but our twosome finally uncover her fractured family life and the young love that could have been her undoing.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska Series, #4
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.42(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


New Year’s Eve. The worst possible night of the year to be the limo driver of a party bus. Of course, Jamar Jackson had really not found a night or an occasion when it was good to be a limo driver. In the last two years working for his cousin’s company, he had come to the conclusion that the vast majority of people hired stretch limos for one reason: so they could be drunk, high, obnoxious, and out of control without fear of being arrested. Getting from one place to the next was secondary.

He drove the Wild Thing—a twenty-passenger white Hummer with zebra-print upholstery. A rolling nightclub awash in purple light, it was tricked out with a state-of-the-art sound system, satellite television, and a fully stocked bar. It cost a month’s rent to hire on New Year’s Eve, which included a twenty percent gratuity—which was what made hauling these assholes around worth the headache.

Jamar worked hard for his money. His evenings consisted of shrieking girls in various stages of undress as the night wore on, and frat boys who, regardless of age, never lost the humor of belching and farting. Without fail, driving party groups always involved at least one woman sobbing, one verbal and/or physical altercation between guests, some kind of sex, and a copious amount of vomit by journey’s end. And Jamar handled it all with a smile.

Twenty percent gratuity included was his mantra.

On the upside: These experiences were all grist for the mill. He was a sociology grad student at the University of Minnesota with a master’s thesis to write.

His customers for this New Year’s Eve were a group of young attorneys and their dates, drunk on champagne and a couple of days’ freedom from seventy-hour workweeks. His assignment for the evening was carting them from one party to the next until they all passed out or ended up in the hospital with alcohol poisoning.

Sadly, the night was young by New Year’s Eve standards, the booze was flowing, and if he had to listen to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” one more time, he was going to run this fucking bus into a ditch.

Twenty percent gratuity included . . .

His passengers were loud. They wouldn’t stay in their seats. If one of them wasn’t sprawled on the floor, it was another of them. Every time Jamar checked the rearview he caught a flash of female anatomy. One girl couldn’t keep her top from falling open; another’s skirt was so short she was a squirming advertisement for the salon that did her bikini wax.

Jamar tried to keep his eyes on the road, but he was a twenty-five-year-old guy, after all, with a free view of a naked pussy behind him.

They had started the evening at a private party in the tony suburb of Edina, then moved to a party in a hip restaurant in the Uptown district. Now they would make their way to downtown Minneapolis to a hot club.

The streets were busy and dangerous with drivers who were half-drunk and half-lost. Compounding the situation, the temperature was minus seventeen degrees, and the moisture from the car exhaust was condensing and instantly freezing into a thin layer of clear ice that was nearly impossible to see on the pavement. An unwelcome complication on a rotten stretch of road that was pockmarked with potholes big enough to swallow a man whole.

Twenty percent gratuity included . . .

Jamar’s nerves were vibrating at a frequency almost as loud as the music. His head was pounding with the beat. He had one eye on the girl in the back, one eye on the road. They were coming into a spaghetti tangle of streets and highways crossing and merging into one another. Hennepin and Lyndale, 55 and 94.

The girl with her top down started making out with Miss Naked Pussy. The hoots and hollers of the partygoers rose to a pitch to rival Adam Levine’s voice.

“. . . moves like Jagger . . . I got the moves like Jagger . . .”

Jamar was only vaguely aware of the box truck passing on his left and the dark car merging onto the road in front of him. He wasn’t thinking about how long it would take to stop the tank he was driving if the need arose. His attention was fractured among too many things.

Then, in a split second, everything changed.

Brake lights blazed red too close in front of him.

Jamar shouted, “Shit!” and hit his brakes in reflex.

The Wild Thing just kept rolling. The car seemed to drop then bounce, the trunk flying open.

Now his attention was laser focused on what was right in front of him, a tableau from a horror movie illuminated by harsh white xenon headlights. A woman popped up in the trunk of the car like a freak-show jack-in-the-box. Jamar shrieked at the sight as the woman flipped out of the trunk, hit the pavement, and came upright. Directly in front of him.

He would have nightmares for years after. She looked like a fucking zombie—one eye wide open, mouth gaping in a scream; half her face looked melted away. She was covered in blood.

The screams were deafening then as the Wild Thing struck the zombie—Jamar’s screams, the screams of the girls behind him, the shouts of the guys. The Hummer went into a skid, sliding sideways on the ice-slick road. Bodies were tumbling inside the vehicle. There was a bang and a crash from the back, then another. The Hummer came to a rocking halt as Jamar’s bladder let go and he peed himself.

Twenty percent gratuity included . . .

Happy New Year’s fucking Eve.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for The 9th Girl

“Cannily plotted and peppered with some of the sharpest dialogue in the business.”—Entertainment Weekly (A-)


“A smartly written one-day read.”—Suspense Magazine

“A gripping plot.”—South Florida Sun-Sentinel

And for Tami Hoag

“One of the most intense suspense writers around.”—Chicago Tribune

“One of the hottest names in the suspense game.”—People

“Ms. Hoag knows how to take her readers on a frightening ride.”—New York Journal of Books

“Hard to put down.”—The Washington Post

“A snappy, scary thriller.”—Entertainment Weekly

“A chilling thriller with a romantic chaser.”—New York Daily News

“Leave[s] the reader panting and turning the pages as fast as possible.”—The Boston Globe

“[A] no-holds-barred, page-turning thriller.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Slick and satisfying.”—The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“An exciting page-turner.”—The Kansas City Star

Meet the Author

TAMI HOAG is the #1 international bestselling author of more than thirty books. There are more than 38 million copies of her books in print in more than 30 languages. 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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The 9th Girl 4.2 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 120 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tami Hoag is one of my favorite authors so I was thrilled to learn she was bringing back Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska for another mystery. This one does not disappoint. The plot is really interesting to watch unfold. The characters, as usual, are very interesting and well developed. I highly recommend this book.
robynh More than 1 year ago
Oh My Gosh! I just hated when I had to stop reading this book. I use to read Tami Hoag all of the time,don't know what happened but I will be reading everything she does and the ones I missed. There were times when I actually held my breath. You think you have it figured out but in true form she fools you.Don't miss out on this book.
Galenakathy More than 1 year ago
As a pre-ordered of anything Tami Hoag, this latest book has a plot that keeps me reading, characters that are human, a good mix of real life facts and a twist or two that have me reading nonstop and wishing for another when I am done! Thank you again Ms. Hoag.
karen50KT More than 1 year ago
If you are a Tami Hoag fan, get this book! Was suspenseful and hard to put down. Read it in a day and a half. It was that hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The plot is twisted and unnerving yet so well put together. A must read for those of you into serial killer mysteries.
dutcheja More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. It takes place in Minneapolis and I live in a suburb of Minneapolis so a lot of the places and roads were familiar to me. The writing was excellent I didn't want to put the book down. I also really liked the characters, the relationship between the detective team, the relationship and difficulties with the female heroine and her kids. It really was a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story has twists and turns and a surprise at the end. The understanding of teengers' desire to be in the "in" crowd makes it appropriate for a younger reader. It will hold your interest until the plot unravels.
Read1atatime More than 1 year ago
It was good to have a new book by Tami Hoag as I always enjoy her writting. I have always enjoyed her books. She keeps you interested from the first chapter to the last and keeps you wondering where the next turn will take you. I think it would be a good book for Book Club discussions as the characters are always interesting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read most of Hoag's books and now all in her kovac/liska series. This was a tightly written book, spell-binding, with two major plots that didn't come together until the very end. Well developed characters...hard to put down. Hope that there more of this series in the future!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this a few weeks ago and had to go back and re read the ending so I could remember the book. I think her earlier books were much more suspenseful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easily the greatest book ive ever read. I found myself getting so attatched to the storyline and charactars that at times i thought it was all real. So captivating.
Anonymous 10 days ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book....well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please continue with the Liska and Kovac series!!! I love them!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was about to read Hoag's most recent novel "Cold Cold Heart" when I discovered it was important to read "9th Girl" first. A novel that kept me on the edge of my "seat" and was so well-written. I would highly recommend both of these novels for any reader who enjoys a good mystery. I will definitely look for more of Hoag's mystery novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Arlene70AL More than 1 year ago
This was a great mystery. Kept me in suspense to the very end. If you've read Tami Hoag before and liked her, you'll love this.
blocher9 More than 1 year ago
This might have been a fine book but I purchased as an audio book for my 2-hour daily commute.  Unfortunately, the editors should be flogged as they edited the sound by clipping the first letter off most of the sentences.  Can figure it out most of the time but very confusing to have "She" shortened to "He" which occurs dozens of times and you are constantly trying to make sense of the wrong gender.  Didn't anyone give an actual listen to the audio book before it was released.  Have had several books where the same dialogue was repeated but this is a first.  Worst listening since Harlen Coben tried to narrate one of his own books. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good book. The setting on minniapolis was amazing and the story of the serial killer would have been great except for the end, I get the high school clique but after a while it gets old real fast.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago