Though this month's installment of “By the Book” may not fit any theme for November (other than having an autumn like look to the cover), but I find myself excited to review it. The book is a mystery/thriller entitled Deeper than the dead and I was thoroughly surprised with it, since I did not expect to enjoy it as much as I have.
As I mentioned before, when I was younger my tastes in books gravitated around sci-fi and fantasy. My interests have expanded over the recent years since moving in with my wife, as she made me discover police dramas and thrillers. It started with TV shows that featured murder mysteries, series like Criminal Minds, Castle, the Mentalist and CSI became part of my routine TV watching ritual. Then Linda’s family gave us a large box full of books, which included various thrillers and I started going through those. Needless to say became captivated in stories where there is a mystery to solve.
This story takes place in 1985, in a Californian town by the name of Oaknoll. This quiet little suburb is portrayed as the perfect place to live, until one day a woman's corpse is found in a playground. Four school kids fall upon the half buried female body, who has had her eyes and mouth glued shut. An FBI profiler comes to town to help the local law enforcement with the investigation, but when other women are reported missing, what is originally thought to be a brutal murder soon becomes a possible serial killer. The story keeps us guessing as to the identity of the killer until the very end, as it follows three possible suspects, each as suspicious as the next.
Back of the Book:
“California, 1985. Four children, running in the woods behind their school, stumble upon a partially buried female body, eyes and mouth glued shut. Close behind the children is their teacher, Anne Navarre, shocked by this discovery and heartbroken as she witnesses the end of their innocence. What she doesn’t yet realize is that this will mark the end of innocence for an entire community, as the ties that bind families and friends are tested by secrets uncovered in the wake of a serial killer’s escalating activity.
Detective Tony Mendez, fresh from a law enforcement course at FBI headquarters, is charged with interpreting those now revealed secrets. He’s using a new technique—profiling—to develop a theory of the case, a strategy that pushes him ever deeper into the lives of the three children, and closer to the young teacher whose interest in recent events becomes as intense as his own.
As new victims are found and the media scrutiny of the investigation bears down on them, both Mendez and Navarre are unsure if those who suffer most are the victims themselves—or the family and friends of the killer, blissfully unaware that someone very close to them is a brutal, calculating psychopath.“
What I learned:
- Forensic Procedures: The author has shown such extensive knowledge in the field of forensics, that I could believe she actually worked in law enforcement. I have taken notes in the hopes use some of this information in my own stories. This information will be useful when having my main characters trying to decipher clues to a mystery.
- Staying in tune with the times: Law enforcement in the eighties was very different from what it is today. Tami Hoag did an amazing job of reflecting society as it was in the eighties, and managed to show the limitations of forensics research at the times and use those limitations to show the character's strength.
- Different perspectives: There are many different characters in this story. The perspective used to tell the tale vary from five viewpoints; those of the suspects, those of the victims, those of the law enforcement, those of the bystanders/witnesses and those of the children. These viewpoints vary wildly, and each bring something different to the story.
- Playing the suspects: Tami Hoag blew my mind and had me doubting my answer until the very last few chapters. She succeeded in drip feeding information to the reader in a way that makes them doubt all the suspects, without ever really being able to declare one innocent. Not to mention the tension builds up with every clue she gives, making you point the finger at people faster then you can keep reading.
This story proved to be one wild ride and had me second guessing every step of the way. For those interested in learning more about the author, Tami Hoag, please check out her websites here:
Tami Hoag : http://tamihoag.com/
In closing, I would like to thank my wife Linda and her family for lending us these incredible books, and for all the encouragement and support they keep giving me during my journey.
Until next time!