Skip to main content

Review of "Secrets to the Grave" by Tami Hoag

Imported from Goodreads.

There's something rotten in the state of Oak Knoll. Two books into Tami Hoag's newest series and I wonder why anyone would ever want to live in the so-called idyllic Oak Knoll, California, home of too many killers to count. If it were a real town, I would wonder if it was the town that created the killers or if there was something about the town that attracted them. Either way, the Oak Knoll Sheriff's Department needs an upgrade STAT.

Secrets to the Grave takes place a little over a year after the end of Deeper Than the Dead, and while this book could technically be read as a standalone novel, it would be best if you read it following the first book.

In Secrets to the Grave, Anne Navarre (now Leone) and her husband Vince are back, as are several of the other characters from the last book, including Tony Mendez, who I would love to see in more of a leading role in future books. The action in this book mainly surrounds 4 year old Haley Fordham, whose mother was found murdered in the first few pages. Because she had no family to speak of, Haley ends up staying with Anne and Vince despite the pleadings of Maureen Upchurch, Haley's social services case worker, and Milo Bordain, Haley's stand-in grandmother.

Secrets to the Grave is an engrossing read, but I had trouble with some aspects of the book. First of all, I figured out the killer fairly early on in the novel, and while at times I had my doubts as to the identity of the killer, I was nowhere near as surprised as the characters were when the killer was revealed.

My second issue, is probably more of a time period issue than it is an issue with the book itself, but the fact is I am reading this book in 2012 not 1986 and I can't see things out of a 26 year old lens. My issue of course has to do with the treatment of gay characters in the novel. Of course they were written in as possible killers and of course we were supposed to think of them as the killer because they were closeted gay men. Each time one of the character brought up the gay angle, I wanted to bang my head against something. That said, it was interesting in an anthropological/sociological way to see how people in 1986 thought and how much of that hasn't changed in the last twenty-six years. We like to think that we have become more open-minded about these things, but the fact is that many people in this country would rather see them as killers because of their gayness. But, I digress...

My final issue with this book and with Deeper Than the Dead was the representation of Dennis Farman. If you have read Deeper Than the Dead, you know that Dennis was the abused son of s psychotic sheriff's detective, and who attempted to murder two of his classmates. My problem with this is really about the way every character thought about him. Everyone, excluding Anne--at least up until a certain point, believed that Dennis was broken and that there was nothing they could have done for him. Honestly, Dennis could have been used as the perfect example of the sociological theory that claims that if we don't bond with someone--hopefully a parent--by the age of 8, we're doomed to a life of lawlessness and inadequacy. Personally, I find that theory dismal and I do not subscribe to it. Unfortunately, whether Ms. Hoag knows it or not, she seems to, at least when it comes to characters in her novels.

I gave this book a three star review despite the issues I had with it because it was a very entertaining read. Ms. Hoag's prose had me hooked from the beginning and that says a lot. I could have given up on this book several times because of the problems I had with it, but I didn't. There were a couple of reasons why. First was Ms. Hoag's narrative style. Second was that I cared about the characters. That might say more about Deeper Than the Dead than it does for Secrets to the Grave (because most of the main characters were introduced in that book), but what can I say.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Fifteen Years Later: Review of "His Sinful Touch" by Candace Camp

Title: His Sinful Touch
Author: Candace Camp
ISBN: 0373789963
Publisher: HQN
Series: Mad Morelands #5
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $5.99 (e-book) $19.96(Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2


Most readers remember their first, the first book of their particular genre that they read, whether they enjoyed the book or not.  I have two firsts--the first romance I ever read was a Harlequin Intrigue written by Amanda Stevens.  If you've read my blog before you probably already know this.  The first historical romance I read was Mesmerized by Candace Camp, which was also the first book in her Mad Morelands series.  

I was a senior in high school when this series began and I remember seeing the paperback version of Mesmerized on the shelf at the Target on Queens Blvd (yes, I spent a lot of time on Queens Blvd as a teenager), and was pulled in by the gorgeous cover.  Apparently, that book has had several covers over the last 15 years, but this is the one I remember:


Isn't it pretty?  Of course from the cover I…

Happy Bookaversary! A Review of "Edge of Darkness" by Karen Rose

Title: Edge of Darkness
Author: Karen Rose
ISBN: 9780399583087
Publisher: Berkeley
Series: Cincinnati Series
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $7.99 (e-book) $28.28(Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


It seems like I've been reading Karen Rose novels my entire life.  I remember the day I came across Count to Ten in the Duane Reade on Queens Blvd.  I'd finished the paperback I brought with me to school that day while sitting in the Dining Hall eating lunch and needed something for the long bus ride home.  I almost didn't buy it because it was $9.99 and I hadn't gotten my financial aid money yet, but the cover copy called to me.  Not even the 500+ page count could scare me away.

I recently learned that Edge of Darkness is Ms. Rose's 20th book and in a strange way, I feel like a proud mama watching her child cross the stage to get their diploma.  I'm just a big ball of happy nostalgia, thinking back to all of the other books I've read by her and hopeful about the ones to come, so befor…

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year--Christmas in September

The day after Labor Day I woke up to an email from my contacts at St. Martin’s Press, inviting me to review six of their upcoming Christmas books, all of which have release dates in early October. For most people, this would probably be a problem — who wants to think about Christmas before Halloween — but for me, I’ve always had a soft spot for the man in the red suit. Even after I stopped believing in the Christ-Myth, I still loved that one holiday. To me, Christmas represents everything that Thanksgiving is supposed to be, but with better music and no obligatory turkey. Some of my favorite books have a Christmas theme and so I jumped at the chance to review those six books (well, five of them because the sixth has to do with cowboys and if there is one sub-genre I just cannot do is cowboys). I read the first two, With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins and Deck the Halls by Donna Alward, fairly quickly, especially since they’re both novellas. Both are being released in a little o…

Review of "New York, Actually" by Sarah Morgan

Title: New York, Actually
Author: Sarah Morgan
ISBN: 0373804105
Publisher: HQN Books
Series: From Manhattan with Love #4
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $5.99 (e-book) $19.96 (Audible)
Rating: 🐶🐶🐶🐶1/2


If you follow me on social media, you'll have seen my posts about this book over the last week.  For the most part, they weren't very positive -- until about 20% into the book, I hated the hero.  If I could have set him on fire, I probably would have.  It was only Ms. Morgan's prose and the fact that I had been looking forward to this book for 6 months that kept me reading.  For once, I am glad I was so wrong about a character.

From the PublisherOne man. One woman. Two dogs.  Meet Molly—New York's most famous advice columnist, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they're other people's. Still bruised from her last breakup, Molly is in no rush to find happily-ever-after—the only love of her life is her dalmatian, Valentine.  Meet Daniel—A cynical divorce …

The Internet of Things: Review of "Hacking IT" by Kimberly Dean

Title: Hacking IT
Author: Kimberly Dean
ISBN: 9781386835561
Publisher: Self-published
Series: Hackers #1
Price: $3.99 (e-book) $9.99 (paperback)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2


Have you ever seen the description of a book and known immediately that it was going to be awesome and upon reading it were faced with the possibility that it might actually be better than you originally thought?  For me, that book was Hacking IT by Kimberly Dean.  A female white hat hacker using her skills to uncover a black hat hacker, who has stepped away from his computer and entered the real world?  Um, yes, please.

From the Publisher:
Independent software developer Kylie Grant is on top of her game in the world of IT. She has loyal clients, a good reputation, and a prestigious membership in technology giant Afire Industries’ small business accelerator. Things are going well until she stumbles across an innocuous issue with the lighting in the building where she rents space. When she digs into the problem, she discovers some…