Monday, November 5, 2012

Deeper than the Dead by Tami Hoag

Read while home alone? mmm…probably wouldn’t
Tissues needed? No.
Overall rating: 3 stars

A serial killer with a “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” theme is on the loose in an idyllic California town. A group of 5th graders discover a body and their lives dramatically change. Enter their teacher, parents, a shouldn’t-be-alive FBI agent, and a sheriff’s department full of personalities for quite a range of characters.

Deeper than the Dead was written in 2010, but set in 1985—a time when computers for all were in the distant future, “profiling” was a new pseudo-science, and fingerprints were matched by hand. The author notes this in a forward and it makes the story an interesting, if sometimes frustrating, one. I kept thinking, “Check the internet! Scan those pictures and send them out to all the other police departments in the area! Use your cell phone!” Alas, none of those were options for most law enforcement folks in 1985. I did enjoy some of the culture throwbacks mentioned in the book—clothing, music, hair styles. I could definitely picture friends and myself in some of the scenes.

The story line kept my interest with some interesting twists. I had a good idea whodunit by midway through the book, though there were two candidates in my mind and it wasn’t until the last part of the book that it was clear. Some of the descriptions of what happened to victims were a little graphic for my taste, but I just skipped over those sections when necessary. The bit of romance thrown in was nice, but not a big addition to the book. The relationship between the teacher and her dad was just weird to me. Again, it didn’t add much.

The conclusion wrapped things up for the most part, but didn’t give me complete closure. The kids involved in finding the body are given closure, but it was weak. I’m not satisfied with where they ended their stories. The teacher and her dad just kind of finish the book without an ending. And some of the parents are left mid-story as well.

In all, it was an interesting read, but not high on my list of recommendations. I’ve read other books by Tami Hoag that were much more enjoyable.

Because I was a teacher, I hold books that include teachers as characters or schools as settings to a different standard; what are your "special standard" characters or settings?


  1. Great question! I definitely hold fiction that deals with infertility to a high standard - when they get it right I love it almost to the point of worship but when they get the logistics wrong it really annoys me.

    1. I can totally see that. I have a decent amount of "suspension of disbelief," EXCEPT when it comes to my own little areas. In those cases, things better be spot on!