“ Author: Tami Hoag / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 09 December 2010 / Genre: Modern & Contemporary Fiction / Publisher: Orion Publishing Co / Title: Deeper Than the Dead / ISBN 13: 9780752883298 / ISBN 10: 0752883298 „
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95 Chapters later and I can conclude that this book is good. First published in the United Kingdom in 2009, Deeper than the Dead is Tami Hoag's 15th UK publication.
The book is set in 1985, before forensic science really developed into the fascinating technological art it is today; Before a DNA (created in 1995) database existed and when fingerprints had to be individually checked using the 12 point system of identification. Dental records could be obtained but the ability to source them from various states was difficult and forensic profilers were few and far between, with the notion that a profiler could help a case, being frowned upon by local Sheriff's trying to solve cases.
Hoag sets this book in the plush college town of Oak Knoll, a town with a good reputation for education and extremely low crime rate. The theme is murder. We are introduced firstly to the child witnesses of a buried body in a park (Tommy, Wendy, Dennis and Cody). Secondly Hoag introduces a school teacher (Anne Navarre) and the parents of said witnesses (the Morgans, Cranes, Farmans and Roaches), before bringing the key characters of Detective Tony Mendez, Sheriff Cal Dixon, Deputy Farman and pioneering FBI profiler Vince Leone.
Whilst other characters come and go, or die, within the storyline, the above are key to the development of this book. Tami Hoag tells her story by using short chapters to predominately tell the story from the point of view of Navarre, Mendez, Leone and the children.
This works well by enabling the reader to pick up various parts of a criminal investigation and build a picture of how the police investigate different people with different techniques and also what families have to hide once they close the door on the world.
A murderer comes to town and the police investigate cases where the victims "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil", with very little evidence.
I found it interesting to read a book which is set prior to the development of forensic science. Most crime novels concentrate on the high level of scientific involvement to define a crime scene and process the results before sending off the police to solve a murder. This book differs in that the police crave the new science which is developing, but appreciate they have to solve their case with manual police work.
This book contains a number of themes, murder being the main one, but also domestic abuse, child abuse, chauvinistic viewpoints, love and hate. I found much of the book realistic in its descriptions and definitions; however felt that the timeframe of the storyline was comparatively short for a murder investigation. I also felt that the love theme was rushed with two characters falling in love within 3 days of meeting each other.
Seeing past this, the book was gripping. I got it for Christmas and finished it in 4 days of bedtime reading. Because the chapters range between 1 and 10 pages, it is easy to take a break if needed, but also very easy to "just read one more chapter" and stay up into the early hours in doing so.
My only bug bear about this book is the synopsis on the back. I find it extremely hard to believe that a whole novel can be proof read but that nobody bothered to check the spelling of the main character on the back page. Vince Leone has had an "e" knocked off his surname in the back page synopsis. Not a huge problem, but a spectacular editing failure for such a widely published book.