Secrets to the Grave opens with a brutal murder scene...
"She lay discarded like a life-sized broken doll - made up, torn up and cast aside, her brown eyes cloudy and lifeless. Beside her lay a smaller doll - her child - head resting on her shoulder, face streaked with the last of her mother's life's blood.
The she in the tableau is Marissa Fordham. Marissa and her daughter Haley were recent additions to the population of Oak Knoll, CA. With a local wealthy patron, Marissa had been making her living as an artist.
I really enjoyed the characters introduced in Deeper Than the Dead and was thrilled to see that Hoag had reprised them and carried on with the story of Oak Knoll. The neat thing is that these books are set in 1986. So, forensic methods and tools such as DNA banks as we know them from current tv shows and current headlines just don't exist yet, although they are hoped for. Mendez and Leone must use 'old fashioned' methods to investigate. I quite enjoyed the 'historical' references to movies, style and culture inserted into the story.
Hoag has created a multi level plot with some red herrings, but also some subtle clues tucked in if you read carefully. Watch for those sneaky little sentences at the ends of the chapters. Details are teased out from each character on the way to the solution - it seems that every one in Oak Knoll has secrets. Fair warning - the crime is somewhat gruesome in description,some readers may be offended.
Secrets to the Grave can certainly be read as a stand alone. But the references to the past case are tantalizing to those who haven't had a chance to read Deeper Than the Dead. So....thanks to the publisher Dutton, one lucky winner has a chance to win a copy of both books!! Simply comment to be entered. Ends Wednesday December 29 at 6 pm EST. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please.