Last year, I discovered Tami Hoag's mystery/crime novels and read everything available in the Sam Kovac & Nikki Liska series. Many readers also recommended the Oak Knoll series, so after checking at the library, Deeper Than The Dead came home with me.
There is a fascinating Author's Note that precedes the novel about the cultural phenomena and the lack of forensic science and technology. Computers were not readily available to every police department; mobile phones, large and bulky, were also rare--nothing like the cell phones in the hands of nearly every citizen of today; matching fingerprints was still done by the naked eye; DNA was first used as evidence in 1987 and controversial; and profiling was a fledgling science. So many things to consider when setting a novel in the 1980's.
In a small California town in 1985, four children literally stumble over a female body, partially buried, and intended for someone to discover. Anne Navarre, their teacher, is shocked and saddened that these children will be forever altered by their gruesome discovery.
While the Author's Note provides an interesting reminder of how quickly we have learned to take technology and forensic science for granted, I found the repeated references within the novel to future technology distracting. The "romance" between Anne Navarre and the FBI profiler Vince Leone didn't feel real and was certainly too fast--more sexual attraction than anything else.
On the other hand, Hoag was able to present several good suspects and to keep the reader off-center about the real killer. The uncertainty about who the killer might be kept me engaged and frequently changing my mind.
I much prefer the Kovac/Liska novels, which have better character development and are more skillfully plotted, but I will read the next one (Secrets to the Grave) if the library has a copy because Tami Hoag has the ability to engage readers and there aren't any more Kovac & Liska novels available yet.
Mystery/Suspense. 2008. 421 pages.