Tag Archives: Tami Hoag

Cry Wolf by Tami Hoag: some good, some bad

Cry Wolf by Tami Hoag


 

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(3.5/5)

Pros: intriguing mystery held my interest


Cons: annoying characters who spoke a lot of French

Some very good stuff.  And some very annoying stuff.  That’s my quickie review of Tami Hoag’s Cry Wolf. 

 

 

Our heroine, Laurel, comes back home – to the French villages of Louisiana, after facing a humiliating failure in her professional career.   She just wants to reconnect with her family, and enjoy some relaxing time to herself.


 

But she does not get much of a chance to rest.  Young girls are turning up dead along the Bayou.  At the same time, Laurel finds herself involved with the local ‘bad boy’ – thinking she sees the good man underneath all the bluster.

 

But when you get involved with someone you barely know, bad things can happen.  Is it possible that Laurel’s new love is somehow involved with the girls’ murders?  Or is someone else setting up an elaborate ruse, one designed to bring harm not only to Laurel but to the rest of her family as well?

 

That’s the premise of Cry Wolf and I’ll admit, I was pretty well hooked.  I turned those pages mighty fast to find out what was really going on.  I liked Hoag’s style of bringing lots of possible suspects into the mix.  Each time I was pretty sure I had it figured out, she would add a new twist and send me soaring in another direction.


 

Overall, a fascinating “whodunit” that definitely held my interest.

 

However, the book is far from perfect.  It suffers from a couple of flaws.  The biggest is that the characters were very hard to care about, and very hard to take seriously.  Each is a one-dimensional caricature.  The good girl.  The bad girl.  The good guy.  The bad guy.  The close-minded one.  The evil one.  You see the point – each character had no more depth than my fingernail.

 

And then there was the French.  I’m Ok if an otherwise-English book adds a few foreign phrases here and there.  Especially if you can gather most of the meaning from the context.  But this book incorporates French into nearly every conversation.  And even though I could make out most of it, I found it distracting and, frankly, annoying.  Worst of all – it turns out there’s a glossary at the back of the book to help you out.  When did I discover this fact?  After I read the last page of the story, of course.  Had I known all along that the glossary was hiding back there I might have used it.  But I’m not in the habit of checking out the back pages of a book to see if there’s anything of interest!


 

So – pick up Cry Wolf if you like a good “whodunit” and don’t mind thin characters.  And, if you don’t speak French, at least you’ll have my tip – turn to the back of the book!

 

Also by Tami Hoag

Deeper Than The Dead
Secrets To The Grave
The 9th Girl

Secrets To The Grave by Tami Hoag – Decent thriller set in the 80’s

Secrets To The Grave

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(3.5/5)

Pros: Intriguing thriller

Cons: The characters weren’t the best

Tami Hoag’s Secrets To The Grave is the sequel to Deeper Than The Dead. It’s a year later and the characters are doing their best to recover from the horrific events that took place in the first book.

You’d think they could catch a break after all that mayhem, but such is not the case. A young woman, a single mother, is found brutally murdered. The only witness, her four-year-old daughter, left for dead but miraculously still alive. Traumatized beyond belief, as expected. Vince Leone is “on the case” along with his wife, Anne, a specialist in childhood development. While Anne tries to help the little girl, Vince tries to dig up clues. Who could possibly harm a woman who, on the face of it, seemed just lovely?  Further, who could try to kill a little girl?

These books are written in present day, but take place in the 80’s. As such, Vince has to investigate the case the old fashioned way. No DNA tests. No database of fingerprints to match against. Not even a cell phone or a computer. This is the 80’s and these things are barely a thought in anyone’s head. At least, in this book, we weren’t hit with this information over our heads. In the last book the characters were prescient beyond belief about technology that would someday be available. In this book, the characters were less aware and frankly, more believable.

That said, we have an intriguing case and a story that gets more and more twisted the further we go. And while I wouldn’t say these are the most likeable characters I’ve ever read about, they were “ok”. The little girl was pretty obnoxious but I guess I can give her a pass given all she’d been through. Still, I would have written her a bit gentler, a bit less cringe-worthy.

And while it’s not required to read the books in order, it makes more sense to do so. Especially as the events from the first book are frequently mentioned in this book. Overall, Secrets To The Grave is a decent thriller.

Also by Tami Hoag

Cry Wolf
Deeper Than The Dead
The 9th Girl

 

The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag – Exciting thriller, for the most part

The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag

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(4/5)

Pros: Exciting story with a lot of twists

Cons: an early reveal that wasn’t too well done

The 9th Girl is the fourth book in Tami Hoag’s series featuring detectives Liska and Kovac.  I haven’t read the first three books, but, honestly, I don’t think it matters.  The 9th Girl works just fine as a stand-alone novel.

The plot: On New Year’s Eve, a young woman is found brutally murdered.  Is it the work of “Doc Holiday” – serial killer on the loose, so-named for his fondness of killing on major holidays?  If so, it would be his 9th victim, with nary a clue to his identity.  Or, is this a separate event?  And if so, is she a random victim, or was she the target?

As Liska and Kovac uncover clue after clue about the victim’s identity and personal life, the case truly takes on a life of its own.  With plenty of suspects, the reader is kept guessing, along with the investigators.  And when another woman goes missing, the case gets even more complex.

I have to admit, this book held my interest from page 1.  I was definitely invested in the story, wanting to know what happened to the victim.  And the more we learned about her life, the juicier the story became.  Then when there’s a second victim, I was pulled in even further.

The only thing that made the book a bit less compelling than it might have been is the early reveal of the bad guy, in the second woman’s case.  Granted, there are plenty of stories where we know who the bad guy is, long before the police do.  And that’s a perfectly reasonable technique, often with its own excitement.  But in this case, I felt it hindered, rather than helped.  The details we were given were not exciting, it just made the story less thrilling. I would have preferred to have been kept in the dark about both victims, solving both cases together, instead of knowing the details regarding the second victim.

But this is a minor quibble.  In truth, The 9th Girl was a darned good mystery/thriller that keeps the reader guessing.  With plenty of twists and turns, and characters that are worth caring about, this book gets two eager thumbs up (and four stars) from me.

 

Also by Tami Hoag

Cry Wolf
Deeper Than The Dead
Secrets To The Grave

Deeper Than The Dead – Tami Hoag – Use discretion!

Deeper Than The Dead

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(3/5)

Pros: Fairly suspenseful “who done it”

Cons: Use your discretion!  Some silliness regarding the time period.

Gotta give Tami Hoag credit.  She tried something “different” with Deeper Than The Dead.  Writing a book in the murder mystery/thriller genre, but setting it in the 80’s so that modern-day forensic tools and technologies don’t exist was a pretty nifty idea.  Did it work out?  Somewhat.

It’s the 80’s in a small town, and life is good.  Until the day when four fifth-graders stumbled upon a partially-buried dead body.  From the condition of the body it was very clear that the woman was tortured – brutalized, really – prior to her death.  Police are called in, and a little research eventually reveals that there were other deaths in the past with the same pattern.  There’s a serial killer on the loose.

It’s the 80’s.  The forensic tool of “profiling” is in its infancy.  Most of the small-town cops see the concept as nothing more than “guess work”.  As for as they’re concerned, it’s a bunch of hokum.  But FBI agent Vince Leone is a pioneer in the field.  Reluctantly, the investigators turn to him for help.

Vince does his thing – coming up with a general profile for their probable killer.  Meanwhile, the four children are traumatized and dealing with their own issues – both at home and at school.  And their teacher Miss Navarre is beside herself trying to figure out how to help them cope.  Especially as the body count starts to rise.

There you have it – the general premise.  A serial killer on the loose, while a town is terrorized.

The first thing I wondered, when I found out that Ms. Hoag set the story in the 80’s was – how is that any different than just picking up a book that was actually written in the 80’s?  Well, here’s how:  Ms. Hoag never lets us forget that the book was written in the present day.  Her characters are far more prescient than folks really were, back then.  For instance, when reading a book written in the 80’s, the characters don’t talk about how “Someday there will be machines that will hold all of the fingerprints in a file, and matches will be done automatically in minutes, instead of us having to look at them to match them“.  Or, “Someday each of us will have a computer on our desk, and those computers will be able to communicate with each other, but for now, we have to write stuff down and use the photocopy machine to share information” or “Someday, we’ll be able to use DNA matching to determine who left that piece of skin behind, but for now, we’ll collect it, but not know what to do with it“.  Ok, these are not actual direct quotes from the book, but that was the sentiment.  The folks in Deeper Than The Dead spent a lot of time wistfully thinking about how great forensic tools will be in the future, with dead-on accuracy.

Did this help make the book interesting, or make it seem a bit like a parody?  A bit of both.  It was interesting to remember how old-fashioned police work was done.  Hitting the pavement, putting in the hours, following the clues.  No short-cuts.  No cell phones, Internet, email, or national crime databases to help you out.  But the characters discussing the wonderful future world that will someday exist – that was just silly.  Folks in the 80’s just didn’t talk like that.  I know.  I was there.

Beyond this, the story is your basic serial killer story, with some very disturbing violence and torture.  While we are spared from reading the details as they happen, we understand the aftermath.  And the level of torture these women went through is – believe me – brutal.  Some of the worst I’ve read. Use discretion before deciding to read this book!

Along the same vein, there is a LOT of child abuse in this book.  In many different forms.  Again, use discretion.

Beyond the cautions, Deeper Than The Dead is a decent serial killer novel, with some nice surprises along the way.  Many possible suspects to keep you guessing.  And, yes, the seems-to-be-obligatory romance tossed in.  3 stars, and a non-recommendation.

Also by Tami Hoag

Cry Wolf
Secrets To The Grave
The 9th Girl