Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag, a Review

From The Weekender (Pennsylvania) --

NOVEL APPROACH: Six feet under --

by Kacy Muir --
January 26, 2010 --

In today’s society, it is hard to imagine life without the technological advances that we have made. We have the ability to solve crime through methods of criminal profiling, DNA and ultraviolet testing. But, that of course is now, not 1985 when forensics was all but limited.

In Tami Hoag’s newest novel, “Deeper Than The Dead,” readers are introduced to Anne Navarre, a fifth-grade teacher who lives and works in Oak Knoll in the late 1980s. The town is two hours outside Los Angeles, and crime, as Anne implies, “ran along the lines of small-time drug deals, petty theft and vandalism.” In 1985, profiling is only in its beginning stages and not yet an accepted part of investigative methodology.

It is not until bullies chase two of Anne’s students that Oak Knoll is changed forever. Tommy Crane and Sara Morgan are led to a traumatizing find just outside of their school. After running and falling down a hill, Tommy finds his head has rested on top of a corpse.

The woman is partially buried, though some exposed body parts had been mauled, possibly by an animal days or nights before — “things came into focus: blood that had drizzled down her cheek and dried, a slash mark across one cheek, ants marching into and out of her nostrils.”

After the police are called to the scene, Anne witnesses what has happened. She sees the body and the children off to the side. Anne knows that the experience of seeing a dead woman so brutally dumped into the earth is traumatizing to her, let alone young children.

As Anne contemplates who could have committed such a crime, she worries how the image affects her students. Tommy is reserved about the situation and Sara is emotional but open. Anne soon realizes, however, that her relationship to these students is placing her that much closer to the same demise as this woman.

Vince Leone, one of the most notable FBI profilers, is sent from Washington to investigate further into the murder. It is not until more bodies and past cases are reopened to show that these murders are connected by a signature: all females — tortured, assaulted, and later killed, all the while their eyes and mouths are glued shut.

As Vince gets closer to unmasking the serial killer, a romantic relationship is established between Vince and Anne. Through their relationship, readers begin to understand more about Anne and how she becomes not only a teacher, but also a survivor.

While there is predictability about the identification of the serial killer, Hoag tends to allude to other characters in order to show that everyone is hiding something. Ultimately, however, I do not think any reader could expect an ending such as the one Hoag provided. It is not without warning that the reader understands the conclusion may be unsettling due to its lack of resolution. However, that is perhaps the best ending of all — one that we never see coming.

No comments:

Post a Comment