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Books 58-59: Down the Darkest Road and Two for the Dough

Book 58: Down the Darkest Road (Oak Knoll #3).
Author: Tami Hoag, 2011.
Genre: Police Procedural. Crime Fiction. Period Fiction.
Other Details: Hardback. 432 pages

The third in this series moves forward a few years to 1990 and happily Oak Knoll has been free from further serial killers. At the opening of the novel Lauren Lawton, widowed after the death of her husband, has moved with her daughter, Leah, to Oak Knoll. Four years previously in Santa Barbara Lauren's 16-year old daughter Leslie had disappeared. No trace of her was ever found and no one was ever arrested even though Lauren was certain she knew the identity of the man who had taken her oldest daughter. However, with no evidence the Santa Barbara police had been powerless to move against him even when Lauren reported he was stalking her and her remaining family.

When Lauren spots the suspect in Oak Knoll it seems that the nightmare is beginning again. An encounter with detective Tony Mendez brings the case to the attention of Oak Knoll Sheriff's Department and they begin to investigate both the cold case and the possibility that there is another predator in their midst.

Even though now set in 1990, Hoag is still able to explore an earlier time when forensic and other investigative techniques were still being developed. Hoag paints a powerful portrait of a woman whose loss of her teenage daughter and inability to see the man she believes responsible for her abduction brought to justice has taken her to the brink of madness. I didn't find Lauren particularly sympathetic though as the story developed I could better appreciate her character. My sympathies lay more with Leah, who was 12 when her sister disappeared, and since had been over-protected and sidelined at the same time.

I chose this as a final book for a 7-day Read-a-thon confident that once began I'd have a hard time putting it down. I do hope that Tami Hoag continues to write more in this series, as she suggests in her introduction.

Book 59: Two for the Dough (Stephanie Plum #2) .
Author: Janet Evanovich, 1996.
Genre: Chick Lit Crime Fiction. Comedy/Drama.
Other Details: Audio Book, Unabridged 9 hours, 1 min. Read by C. J. Critt.

Novice bounty hunter Stephanie Plum attempts to track down Kenny Mancuso, who has just shot his best friend. Mancuso is also a distant relation of Joe Morelli, whom we we were introduced to in the first outing for Stephanie.

A friend who is very into this series advised our reading group at the meeting to discuss One for the Money that the second book was even funnier. As I had certainly enjoyed the first, I decided to have this as my audiobook in the car. I find myself in agreement with my friend. The characters and setting having been established in One for the Money, Evanovich seemed to allow herself to have a lot of fun with her rather inept bounty hunter.

I found myself giggling quite often at the situations that Stephanie found herself in. Overall it proved perfect for in-car listening as the plot is quite simple and its first person narration engaging.
Tags: audio book, chicklit, crime fiction, police drama, sexual violence, thriller
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