California, 1985 - Four children - running through the woods behind their middle school - literally stumble upon a gruesome discovery. Partially buried in a shallow grave and covered by wet leaves is the body of a young woman, her eyes and mouth glued shut. Close behind the children is their teacher, Anne Navarre, shocked by this discovery and heartbroken for her students as she witnesses the end of their innocence. What she doesn't realize is that this discovery will also effectively mark the end of innocence for the entire community of Oak Knoll, as the ties that bind both friends and families are tested by the secrets uncovered in the wake of an apparent serial killer's escalating activity.
FBI investigator Vince Leone, fresh from a law enforcement course at FBI headquarters, is tasked with interpreting those recently revealed secrets. He's using a new technique known as profiling - to develop a theory of the case; a strategy that pulls him ever deeper into the lives of the four children, and brings him closer to the young teacher whose own interest in recent events becomes as intense as his own.
As each new victim is found and the media scrutiny of the investigation intensifies around them, both Investigator Leone and Ms. Navarre wonder if those who suffer the most are the victims themselves - or the family and friends of the killer, blissfully unaware that someone very close to them is actually a cunning, calculating psychopath; capable of such horrific brutality.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The plot was very exciting and dramatic; jam-packed with action, and filled with enough twists and turns to grab my attention right from the beginning. I was completely engrossed by the story and found that it just wouldn't let me go.
Despite having one or two books by Tami Hoag on my bookshelf already - although I don't think I could tell you where either book actually is at the moment - Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag is the first book that I've read by this author. I would give Deeper Than the Dead a definite A+! and will certainly keep my eyes open for more thrillers by Ms. Hoag to read in the future.
Overall, I thought this was a really great thriller that kept me turning the pages. The novel was set in 1985 before the days of DNA identification, wide-spread use of data analysis, and cell phones. The story is about a serial murderer who glues his victims eyes and mouth shut, deafens them, and then systematically tortures and kills them, leaving the bodies for discovery. The story starts out with one of these bodies being discovered by a group of children who turn out to be the focus of the novel along with their dysfunctional families. As I said, this was a real page-turner; however, I had a good idea who the killer was from the very first few pages. Also another killer was brought into the story and the novel did not really resolve why or who he had killed...this seemed like a major loose end. This is the first Hoag thriller I have read and I intend to read more based on this one with an overall strong recommendation.