Monday, January 10, 2011


First line: "The house stood by itself back off the road in a field of dried-golden grass, half-hidden by spreading oaks."

A five-year-old girl witnesses the brutal murder of her mother, is strangled and left for dead by the assailant she refers to as "Bad Daddy." Vince Leone is called in to help investigate the crime with Detective Tony Mendez. Their investigation leads them to an eccentric professor, an attorney whose marriage is falling apart, and the victim's benefactor. When the victim's best friend vanishes the stakes grow even higher. Has another serial killer come to Oak Knoll, California?

The main plot of SECRETS TO THE GRAVE is an excellent thriller premise and Hoag does a very good job of throwing well-timed twists and red herrings into the mix. Unfortunately the plot is weighed down by what may be excessive red herrings - detail and subplots that don't work to advance the main plot. This causes the pace of the novel to drag when a suspenseful novel should constantly move. There is a great deal that could have been eliminated from this book for a much tighter, stronger story line.

One of my personal biases in fiction is the damsel in distress and the white knight scenario. There are quite a few damsels in distress in this story, the women who need the big strong men to make everything better for them. I didn't feel that any of the females had strong characteristics, so there wasn't anyone that I connected with. This is not to say that the damsel in distress doesn't exist, simply that I don't find her to be an interesting character.

Fans of romantic suspense may find this a more engaging book than I did since the romantic relationships seem to propel the plot more so than the criminal investigation. In this case, I believe I was simply the wrong audience for the book.

This review is part of the blog tour for SECRETS TO THE GRAVE, so you can check the other stops on the tour to get additional perspectives on this novel to determine if you are a better audience fit.

SECRETS TO THE GRAVE is available from Dutton in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0-525-95192-6) as well as from Random House on audio (ISBN: 978-0-739-36583-5).


LisaMM January 10, 2011 at 11:27 AM  

Ahhh, sorry. I didn't realize there was such a romantic element to it- I thought it was more crime/suspense. Sorry it wasn't a perfect match but thank you so much for giving it a go and for being on the tour!

Kay January 10, 2011 at 3:26 PM  

I read the first one in this series, DEEPER THAN THE DEAD and I really liked it. I suspect though that I enjoy this type of book much more than you, Jen. :-)

I've just started reading this one, so will have my verdict later this week probably. Thanks for sharing!

Maria March 31, 2011 at 1:58 PM  

I loved Deeper than the Dead and am about half way through Secrets to the Grave and like this one as well. I hope there is a third! I do understand what you mean though, there probably is some stuff that could have been cut out but I still enjoyed it.

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