Friday, December 26, 2014

Book Review: Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoad

Deeper Than the Dead (Oak Knoll, #1)Deeper Than the Dead by Tami Hoag

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tami Hoag once again crafted a mystery that keeps the reader engaged from the opening when four elementary school children find a dead body in the woods until the last page.

The carefully posed body, half buried, head resting on a stone, with eyes and mouth glued shut, terrifies the children and their teacher. Their safe world in a nearly crime-free town in California is safe no more. The loss of innocence of both the children and the teacher extends into the town itself.

To help the police solve the crime, an FBI investigator who has helped pioneer a new profiling technique volunteers his time. Nearly crippled by the remnants of a bullet in his brain, he is not officially on the job because his doctor hasn't cleared him to work. But he is needed and so he travels from Quantico to California.

Clues pile up as to the identity of the killer, leading to a wild ride filled with red herrings and all the men in the novel falling under suspicion of being the killer.

Hoag offers a blend of a serial killer with a twist, a host of possible suspects, a teacher desperately trying to preserve her students' innocence and an FBI agent who needs to feel vital again. The blend works on all levels.

I listened to this on a long driving trip. I recommend it for long car rides or cuddling up on a dark winter night with a cup of cocoa and the lights on.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Book Review: Real Santa by William Hazelgrove

Real SantaReal Santa by William Hazelgrove

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We expect feel-good books at Christmas. No one wants to read a downer of a story. Heck, even A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens has a happy ending. So does REAL SANTA by William Hazelgrove.

Take one father who wasn't much of a father beyond being a good provider in his first marriage. Add a second marriage with a young girl who desperately wants to keep believing in the magic of Santa. Add losing a job just before Christmas. And stir in one man's desire to keep the Santa myth alive for at least one more year. And that is REAL SANTA.

Hazelgrove takes the reader back to the intersection of childhood when we could believe in magic and to growing up and out of the wonder of such magic. George decides he can really be Santa for one night. He nearly bankrupts the family trying to fulfill a promise to a child.

With the help of a cast of zany characters, including a frustrated Australian film director who turns the idea into a full-fledged production and a man who raises and leases reindeer. George works night and day to put together the pieces of getting live reindeer up onto his roof and him down the chimney.

The story stands on its own and belongs on the shelf of Christmas stories for decades to come.

I won't be a spoiler, but it does have a happy ending.