SECRETS TO THE GRAVE, BY TAMI HOAG (Book 2 of Oak Knoll)
Just like the first one, Deeper Than the Dead, I had already read this one, but decided to read it again and judge it in the light of my brand-new development as raging feminist.
Synopsis: Marissa, a single mother (which, as I'm given to understand by the introduction, was a VERY scandalous thing during the 80s in America), is found brutally murdered and mutilated, creating an upheaval in the idyllic small town of Oak Knoll. Still recovering from the events in the previous book, Vince Leone, Tony Mendez and Anne Leone are called in to investigate.
Overall enjoyment: Once again, it is entertaining, but I'm left a bit disappointed. But, this time, not just because the raging feminist in me was left wanting.
Plot: It has a lot of suspense and a bit of mystery, and it is well-constructed, but way too similar to the first book. It's basically the same story, she only changed the characters around a bit.
Characters: They are well-written enough. Nothing special or outstanding. Nothing too bad either.
World/setting: She did try to play with how the people were reacting to the fact that a seemingly peaceful small town was plagued by horrific events. Still, it's a bit of a stretch to have all these crimes happening in the same place.
Writing style: Simple and fluid. Not very lyric, but not complicated and obscure, either.
Representation: No POCs. A few gay men. She plays with the idea of outing, too.
Political correctness: She does write female characters better than most. They're very complex, with their own reasons and feelings. Still, there's a subtle internalized misogyny permeating the words that is very bothersome after a while. First of all, this is the second time she throws Anne under the bus to have Vince rescue her. Sure, usually Anne can take care of herself, but the constant putting women in danger to create suspense for the men who have to save them is getting old to me. This is also the second time we have a woman who's narcissistic and self-absorbed causing trouble for everyone. I'm not denying that women who are self-absorbed and narcissistic exist, or that they're capable of causing trouble, but when you surround them with "good" women who take care of their men and are selfless to the point of self-destruction, you're sending the message that women are supposed to put other people (especially men and children) above themselves. Add to that the fact that everybody in the book defines healthy romantic relationships as a man's ownership over a woman and you have a very toxic book, especially when it tries to pass as feminist writing.
Up next: Knowing the Score, by Kat Latham