Bestseller Hoag’s so-so third thriller set in the small California community of Oak Knoll (after 2010’s Secrets to the Grave) focuses on 42-year-old Lauren Lawton, who arrives in Oak Knoll in 1990 with her nearly 16-year-old daughter, Leah. Four years earlier, Lauren’s other daughter, Leslie, disappeared at age 16 in Santa Barbara, where the police never managed to find a shred of tangible evidence against the obvious suspect in the abduction, creepy photographer Roland Ballencoa. The trauma of Leslie’s unknown fate and her father’s subsequent suicide left Lauren emotionally shattered and barely able to function. But Oak Knoll proves no refuge. Within months, she’s horrified to spot Ballencoa in town. Despite Lauren’s best efforts to shield Leah from further terror, history repeats itself. The major plot twist won’t surprise many readers, and neither the characters nor the cliché-hobbled story line are among Hoag’s best work. Author tour. Agent: Andrea Cirillo. (Dec.)
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Deeper Than the Dead introduced Tami Hoag's millions of fans to Oak Knoll, a small California town that, in the mid-eighties, seemed as idyllic as any . . . until the See-No-Evil killer shattered that notion. It took FBI agent Vince Leone and a new technique called "profiling" to put an end to the trauma.
Secrets to the Grave brought Leone's teacher-turned-child- advocate wife, Anne, into a central role. Together with Vince and local sheriff 's deputy Tony Mendez, she solved an Oak Knoll murder with a particularly challenging mystery: The victim never existed.
And now Hoag returns once more to Oak Knoll for the third installment of this bestselling series. Through Leone's pioneering, science-based investigatory skills, Hoag explores the early days of forensic police work. And through the chilling case at the heart of Down the Darkest Road, she hooks ever more readers into the meticulously crafted, all-too-terrifying world of Oak Knoll, where the scariest secrets of all can be found . . . Down the Darkest Road.
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Praise for Down the Darkest Road
“Eerie, suspenseful, tragic, and thought provoking.”—USA Today
“A mesmerizing psychological drama on loss, guilt, frustration and implacable, explainable evil.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The setting and [Hoag's] consummate skill as a plotter add to plenty of old-school thrills that pack a punch and will leave fans breathless.”—Booklist
“Hoag…rais[es] the tension with every page that turns.”—The Huffington Post
“Well written, well executed and darn near brilliant.”—All About Romance
“This taut novel of suspense is a true nail-biter.”—Library Journal
“If you have time to read only one book, you really should make it this one. You won't regret it.”—Suspense Magazine
“With complex characters and crisp, believable dialogue, [this] is a sophisticated thriller.”—Houston Press
“A masterful tale...Ms. Hoag knows how to take her readers on a frightening ride.”—New York Journal of Books
In Hoag's (Secrets to the Grave, 2010, etc.) latest literary suspense novel, Lauren Lawton, "ragged and torn and shredded," has retreated to bucolic Oak Knoll to heal. The Lawtons lived the perfect life in nearby trendy Santa Barbara, and then their older daughter, Leslie, only 16, disappeared. It was certainly kidnapping, although no body was ever discovered. Lauren's husband couldn't recover from the tragedy and eventually died, apparently a suicide. Lauren always believed she knew who took Leslie, and her relentless pursuit of the shadowy Roland Ballencoa cost Lauren her social reputation and the support of the police. As the story moves to Oak Knoll, Hoag's regulars, Sheriff Detective Tony Mendez and retired FBI profiler Vince Leone and his wife Anne, a counselor, enter the narrative. Mendez begins an investigation, slowly coming to comprehend that Lauren isn't simply a woman mired in an unreconcilable past. Mendez learns that Ballencoa, a part-time photographer who has supposedly gone straight after serving time for a youthful sex crime, has followed Lauren to Oak Knoll. An intriguing new character in the familiar Hoag milieu is Santa Barbara police detective Danni Tanner, hard-bitten, cynical, sarcastic and totally dedicated. As Mendez probes deeper into Ballencoa's history and finds little solid evidence, Lauren relentlessly pushes for action, considers vigilantism and nears collapse because of guilt over her emotional neglect of younger daughter, Leah, now the same age as Leslie when kidnapped. With a shady private investigator named Gregory Hewitt as catalyst, the narrative ramps up to a gut-wrenching and violent conclusion, albeit one that leaves a minor plot point adrift. Hoag has an eye for a writerly turn of phrase—"another verse in a poem of futility"—which makes it all the more disconcerting to stumble upon a cliché or to find the author posing an analogy that compares both the bad guy's and the hero's gaze to that of a shark. A mesmerizing psychological drama on loss, guilt, frustration and implacable, unexplainable evil.
|Publisher:||Penguin Random House|