64. DOWN THE DARKEST ROAD, BY TAMI HOAG (Book 3 of Oak Knoll)
The last (at least for now) installment on the Oak Knoll series. It has been a good enough series of suspense books, and I will probably try the next one (if there is one), but some minor problems are starting to weigh.
Synopsis: Lauren Lawton’s daughter disappeared four years ago. For lack of evidence, the most likely suspect wasn’t even tried. Now, trying for a fresh start in the idyllic small town of Oak Knoll, she is once more confronted with this man, but this time she is determined to get closure.
Overall enjoyment: It was entertaining enough, but, like I said, some minor problems that have been present throughout the series are starting to become major problems. And, I suppose, in future books, the tendency would be for them to get even worse.
Plot: The suspense is so well done it *almost* covers the plot holes. I admit, I couldn’t help but get involved in the story, and kept turning the pages to the end; but, to start with, Oak Knoll has got to be the most violent “idyllic small town” in the world. Her characters (ALL OF THEM) still seem to have an almost prophetic knowledge of how technology will develop and the kinds of tests and databases that will be available for forensic procedure in the future. It goes to the point where the justification she gives for the likeliest suspect not being tried was that, even though they found a drop of blood in the guy’s living room, the detectives decided not to test it for blood type, storing it instead for when it would be possible to test for DNA. WHAT THE EVER-FLYING FUCK? Even after it was available, there was a period while most detectives simply didn’t know about DNA, and there was a long discussion of whether or not it should be admissible in court. Yet, we’re somehow expected to believe that an entire police department would be capable of looking into the future, knowing that the test would, some day, be available and determinant, and then ignore the possibilities it offered then so they would have enough of a sample if and when this future came. It really wouldn’t have been a problem if she had chosen ONE character with such foresight to give the reader this comparison between forensic procedure then vs now, but having one key factor depend on it is just unacceptable.
Characters: Nice enough. Most of the “original” ones, who took center stage in the first two books, make only small appearances. For some reason, she felt the need to include a feisty female detective (who actually does utter the famous phrase “I have four brothers, I’m used to this”, for Christ’s sake) with a tragic past (yep, she was raped) and whose sole purpose is to be Mendez’s love interest. *sigh*
World/setting: Like I said, what the fuck is wrong with Oak Knoll? Maybe the city was built on top of an old burial ground, or something.
Writing style: Hoag really can write. She’s very good at building suspense.
Representation: Once again, nope. But, honestly, after the first two books I was hardly expecting it.
Political correctness: Having the “heroine” be abducted by the “bad guy”, almost tortured and killed, and then managing to escape was interesting, and even fresh, the first time. After the third time, though, it starts to get tropey. Why do women have to be abducted and submitted to humiliation and awful menaces to have their stories legitimized? So far, in this series, no guys are subjected to this, and they still come out as heroes.
Up next: The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant