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Tami Hoag's 'Down The Darkest Road': A Review
'Down The Darkest Road' doesn't appear to be the kind of book I'd pick up for myself. Interestingly, I pulled this book from the stacks and never looked back. I'd never heard of Hoag before, but my little inner voice told me that this would be a story that I needed to read. I'm certainly glad that I listened to my gut instinct. No offense to Hoag, but she writes like a man. Crude in the perfect places, suspenseful at just the right times, she certainly doesn't pull any punches when she tells a story. These are all traits that I respect in any storyteller. I was so impressed that I'll certainly check out some of her other works.
The Lawtons: Lauren, Lance, Leslie and Leah are your typical suburban family. Two moderately successful parents who dote on their two smart and lovely daughters. Leslie is outgoing, flirty and can be overly emotional. Leah is quiet, introverted and always seeks the approval of those around her. One day, Leslie is stolen by a mysterious stalker and Lauren must dive head in and lead the efforts to recover her daughter. As Lance stands accused of horrible acts against Leslie, he gives into the pressure and drives himself over the side of a secluded mountain road. Some say it was an accident, others call it suicide. Lauren and Leah simply call it heartbreaking. How did this well liked family fall from the top and become a repeat victim of tragedy?
Four years and nothing but dead ends later, Lauren moves herself and Leah in the hopes of starting a new life away from all the horrendous memories that plague the family. Old ghosts rise from their dusty graves when Lauren runs into Roland Ballencoa, the man Lauren has accused of stealing her family from her. Without substantial proof or cooperation from police officers, grief stricken all over again, Lauren is forced to take measures into her own hands. As Ballencoa begins stalking the Lawton family all over again, Lauren and Leah have to fight for their lives. Will Lauren be able to protect Leah? Will she find out what fate befell Leslie? On the other hand, will Lauren really want to know?
I must admit that I came very close to putting the book away after the first few chapters. The beginning is incredibly dry and dull. Fortunately, the intrigue and suspense pick up and continue to build and build until the final page is turned. Full of plot twists and tricks, Hoag did a great job of keeping me on the edge of my seat with surprises. I don't want to sound sexist or stereotypical, but it seems that majority of the female authors I've read focus more on emotional characters and dwell overly on their mental anguishes. What really impressed me was Hoag's ability to perfectly balance Lauren's sadness and desperation with her determination for closure. Impeccably placed emotional scenes plus page turning action make a great equation for drama. With that said, I encourage both men and women to sit down with this novel. Men will certainly appreciate the gritty and borderline raunchy adventures of detectives Mendez and Tanner. Women will love being able to delve into the psyche of Lauren. Most will find a role model who almost comes alive and jumps off the pages. Lauren is perfectly identifiable and will draw everyone's sympathies. Hoag has done a terrific job with thinking of her target audience and still including a little something for everyone.
The only thing that stops me from awarding 'Down The Darkest Road' a perfect score are the first few chapters. Muscle your way past them and a wonderful tale of tragedy and triumph will emerge. Believable characters and an intense storyline are rewarded huge points. Please don't pass on this novel, I'm glad that I didn't!
Click here to find the wonderfully empowering story from Tami Hoag.