Monday, July 5, 2010

"Deeper Than The Dead" by Tami Hoag: 3 1/2 stars

The "romance" in this book isn't a full-fledged romance but it is enough to distract a little from suspense part of the book. Without it, the book could have been a stronger period police procedural. "Period" because the book is set in 1985 and the science of crime fighting has come a long way in 25 years. As the author notes in the introduction, DNA is not yet a standard part of the investigation, fingerprint evidence is compared manually, not by computer, and the Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI is not yet popular enough to have its own TV show.

A series of murders in a small California town leads the police to suspect they may have a serial killer in their midst and they call the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit. There isn't enough evidence for the BSU to send a team but injured agent/profiler Vince Leone offers to go help on his own. His injury was distraction enough, the romance he starts with a local teacher pushed the distraction a little too far for me, and a troubled child brought it too close to soap opera to be a really good mystery. With the various other local detectives, I didn't get a strong enough feeling for any of the characters to really care about them.

I thought the killer's identity was telegraphed a little too much (though the author gives the reader a few obvious options); I like to be surprised and learn who it is along with the investigators. Even so, it was a pleasant summer hammock read.

There is a second book coming out later this winter, "Secrets to the Grave."  I will probably read that book just to see where the series is going but it won't be at the top of my reading list.

I got this book from the library.  Support your local library!

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