Down the Darkest Road

Tami Hoag. Dutton, $26.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-525-95239-8
Bestseller Hoag’s so-so third thriller set in the small California community of Oak Knoll (after 2010’s Secrets to the Grave) focuses on 42-year-old Lauren Lawton, who arrives in Oak Knoll in 1990 with her nearly 16-year-old daughter, Leah. Four years earlier, Lauren’s other daughter, Leslie, disappeared at age 16 in Santa Barbara, where the police never managed to find a shred of tangible evidence against the obvious suspect in the abduction, creepy photographer Roland Ballencoa. The trauma of Leslie’s unknown fate and her father’s subsequent suicide left Lauren emotionally shattered and barely able to function. But Oak Knoll proves no refuge. Within months, she’s horrified to spot Ballencoa in town. Despite Lauren’s best efforts to shield Leah from further terror, history repeats itself. The major plot twist won’t surprise many readers, and neither the characters nor the cliché-hobbled story line are among Hoag’s best work. Author tour. Agent: Andrea Cirillo. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 11/14/2011
Release date: 12/27/2011
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