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Secrets to the Grave    by Tami Hoag order for
Secrets to the Grave
by Tami Hoag
Order:  USA  Can
Dutton, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Secrets to the Grave is the sequel to Tami Hoag's spectacular Deeper Than the Dead, the chiller that introduced readers to empathetic teacher/psychology student Anne Navarre; FBI Behavioral Sciences Unit legend Vince Leone (who survives despite the bullet in his head); and young profiler-in-the-making Sheriff's Detective Tony Mendez, whom Vince mentors.

Anne and Vince are now married. She still suffers post-traumatic stress syndrome after being attacked by the See-No-Evil killer. A court-appointed special advocate for children, she works with disturbed twelve-year-old Dennis Farman, though most consider him beyond help - after his mother's murder, father's suicide, and his own stabbing attack on a classmate in Deeper Than the Dead, he has been housed in the county mental hospital.

The mystery begins in 1986 with a chilling phone call, 'My daddy hurt my mommy ...' At the scene, deputies find talented artist Marissa Fordham butchered, with over thirty stab wounds. Her four-year-old daughter Haley (who made the call) was strangled and left for dead - she barely survived. Marissa's wealthy art patron, Milo Bordain, who was close to the family, demands custody of Haley. But Anne, herself the victim of a violent crime and a tigress where a child's welfare is at stake, is appointed guardian.

After interviewing the victim's close friend, Gina Kemmer, Vince and Tony are convinced she's hiding something, which she is. Gina makes a bad choice of what to do next, and disappears. Tony Mendez finds himself increasingly attracted to Sara Morgan, whom he first met on the previous case. He interviews her once more as a friend of the victim's. Though Sara is married, her husband, lawyer Steve Morgan, is a serial philanderer. Tony believes he might be a murderer too.

The case's twists and turns give the detectives whiplash and the investigation itself causes collateral damage. Though Anne's gay colleague Franny provides his usual light relief, tension builds steadily as Anne's involvement puts her increasingly at risk. Once the killer is identified, investigators admit - and readers will concur - that 'Nobody saw that coming.' I can't imagine what Tami Hoag will write next to trump these first two exceptional thrillers but I'll be lining up early to read it.

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