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Down the Darkest Road

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Once upon a time I had the perfect family. I had the perfect husband. I had the perfect children. I had the perfect life in the perfect home. And then, as in all fairy tales, evil came into our lives and destroyed us. Four years after the unsolved disappearance of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Lauren Lawton is the only one still chasing the ghosts of her perfect Sant Once upon a time I had the perfect family. I had the perfect husband. I had the perfect children. I had the perfect life in the perfect home. And then, as in all fairy tales, evil came into our lives and destroyed us. Four years after the unsolved disappearance of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Lauren Lawton is the only one still chasing the ghosts of her perfect Santa Barbara life. The world has given her daughter up for dead. Her husband ended his own life in the aftermath. Even Lauren's younger daughter is desperate to find what's left of the childhood she hasn't been allowed to have. Lauren knows exactly who took her oldest child, but there is not a shred of evidence against the man. Even as he stalks her family, Lauren is powerless to stop him. The Santa Barbara police are handcuffed by the very laws they are sworn to uphold. Looking for a fresh start in a town with no memories, Lauren and her younger daughter, Leah, move to idyllic Oak Knoll. But when Lauren's suspect turns up in the same city, it feels to all the world that history is about to repeat itself. Leah Lawton will soon turn sixteen, and Oak Knoll has a cunning predator on the hunt. Sheriff's detective Tony Mendez and his team begin to close in on the suspected killer, desperate to keep the young women of their picturesque town safe. But as the investigators sift through the murky circumstances of an increasingly disturbing case, a stunning question changes everything they thought they knew. In Down the Darkest Road, #1 New York Times bestseller Tami Hoag proves again why she is one of the world's most beloved storytellers.


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Once upon a time I had the perfect family. I had the perfect husband. I had the perfect children. I had the perfect life in the perfect home. And then, as in all fairy tales, evil came into our lives and destroyed us. Four years after the unsolved disappearance of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Lauren Lawton is the only one still chasing the ghosts of her perfect Sant Once upon a time I had the perfect family. I had the perfect husband. I had the perfect children. I had the perfect life in the perfect home. And then, as in all fairy tales, evil came into our lives and destroyed us. Four years after the unsolved disappearance of her sixteen-year-old daughter, Lauren Lawton is the only one still chasing the ghosts of her perfect Santa Barbara life. The world has given her daughter up for dead. Her husband ended his own life in the aftermath. Even Lauren's younger daughter is desperate to find what's left of the childhood she hasn't been allowed to have. Lauren knows exactly who took her oldest child, but there is not a shred of evidence against the man. Even as he stalks her family, Lauren is powerless to stop him. The Santa Barbara police are handcuffed by the very laws they are sworn to uphold. Looking for a fresh start in a town with no memories, Lauren and her younger daughter, Leah, move to idyllic Oak Knoll. But when Lauren's suspect turns up in the same city, it feels to all the world that history is about to repeat itself. Leah Lawton will soon turn sixteen, and Oak Knoll has a cunning predator on the hunt. Sheriff's detective Tony Mendez and his team begin to close in on the suspected killer, desperate to keep the young women of their picturesque town safe. But as the investigators sift through the murky circumstances of an increasingly disturbing case, a stunning question changes everything they thought they knew. In Down the Darkest Road, #1 New York Times bestseller Tami Hoag proves again why she is one of the world's most beloved storytellers.

30 review for Down the Darkest Road

  1. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. My least favorite book of the series. This book barely included any of the original characters. The main mystery was never really solved and the perpetrator in the novel were easily determined and stated from the beginning. I was let down with this book of the series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Vivisection

    I'm not gonna lie. Since I got an eReader, I rarely grab books at the grocery store any more. My cart is pristine and guiltless except for the fact that I don't always buy organic. And I buy a lot of booze. I make my shameful purchases in the dark at two a.m. and then record them here for the world to see. So I feel badly about adding this to grocery store impulse purchase shelf EXCEPT that I saw this at Ralph's and knew to download it. So it counts. For the record: NO SPINSTERS DIE. NO SLUTTY G I'm not gonna lie. Since I got an eReader, I rarely grab books at the grocery store any more. My cart is pristine and guiltless except for the fact that I don't always buy organic. And I buy a lot of booze. I make my shameful purchases in the dark at two a.m. and then record them here for the world to see. So I feel badly about adding this to grocery store impulse purchase shelf EXCEPT that I saw this at Ralph's and knew to download it. So it counts. For the record: NO SPINSTERS DIE. NO SLUTTY GIRLS ARE MURDERED. AND despite her track record, Oak Knoll's secret treasure, Anne Leone DOES NOT GET STABBED. So whew, right? Oh, Lifetime novels. Instead, we get those hard boiled cops who call the perps bastards and psychos; there's also the trope of there-is-no-love/grief/anger/rage-like-that-of-a-MOTHER. Once again, MOTHERHOOD is revered and MOTHERS are the only pure force in the world seeking justice for their CHILDREN. Rest assured though, the evil doers are really EVIL, FRUIT OF THE DEVIL, EVIL and the attempt to suss them out and capture them dead or alive is quite suspenseful.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    I am usually a big fan of Tami Hoag and have been following her novels for years, but this one is absolutely awful, mainly due to the presence of the most self-absorbed, navel-contemplating, sniveling protagonist I have encountered in long time...Lauren Lawson is so despicable that I had a hard time finishing this book. I did not care in the least what happens to this poor excuse for an adult human being, and this totally colors my interest in the other characters. Luckily the parts of the book I am usually a big fan of Tami Hoag and have been following her novels for years, but this one is absolutely awful, mainly due to the presence of the most self-absorbed, navel-contemplating, sniveling protagonist I have encountered in long time...Lauren Lawson is so despicable that I had a hard time finishing this book. I did not care in the least what happens to this poor excuse for an adult human being, and this totally colors my interest in the other characters. Luckily the parts of the book in which she wallows in self-pity are printed in italic typeface, so I could skip over them. The book is otherwise hampered by a plot that is about adequate for a short story, elongated into more than 400 pages. This book is the antithesis of a good read. So glad this was a library book.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    Please note that I gave this book 3.5 stars. However, I rounded it up to 4 stars on Goodreads. Down the Darkest Road is not my favorite Tami Hoag book and I think the reason why is that because I read the series out of order. I hate doing that. In my defense though I bought this at the bookstore and asked a sales associate if this was the first book in the series because the books are not identified in any way as number 1, 2, or 3. So this is my roundabout way of saying that Barnes and Noble, yo Please note that I gave this book 3.5 stars. However, I rounded it up to 4 stars on Goodreads. Down the Darkest Road is not my favorite Tami Hoag book and I think the reason why is that because I read the series out of order. I hate doing that. In my defense though I bought this at the bookstore and asked a sales associate if this was the first book in the series because the books are not identified in any way as number 1, 2, or 3. So this is my roundabout way of saying that Barnes and Noble, you are kind of sucking lately. Even without the book not being read in order though I had a hard time getting into this one. We had so many points of views in this book and I wish that we had just stuck with the mother and detective in this one. Instead we throw in the possible serial rapist/killer along with the mother's daughter and I was tired halfway through. Especially because the serial rapist/killer's points of view were just full of awfulness and generally made me want to shower and check on the locks on my doors. Down the Darkest Road is number three in the Oak Knoll series. Apparently murderers and serial killers love the place. Serious question though, who the heck keeps living there when it seems like ugly things/people keep settling down there. Same question I always had about people that kept right on living in Sunnydale. Told in the third person, Down the Darkest Road follows Lauren Lawton and her teenage daughter Leah move to Oak Knoll after dealing with two crippling blows. First, the abduction (and probable murder) of Lauren's older daughter Leslie. Two years later, Lauren's husband Lance (yes they all have L's it drove me crazy while reading) dies and Lauren feels stuck. Moving to Oak Knoll she hopes will give her and Leah a fresh start. However, Lauren quickly realizes that the man she blames for her daughter's abduction has followed them and she decides she will do whatever it takes to take him down. So we get a little of Linda Hamilton in Terminator Judgement Day and also a heck of a lot of woman who sometimes seems to not have any type of common sense at all with the character of Lauren. As a reader you feel sympathetic to her plight, but once you realize that you kind of had your eyes closed to what was going on (with a reveal that just seemed to happen with no fanfare) you kind of want to smack Lauren upside the head. Or at least I did. Besides Lauren we also get Leah's perspective in this book and it's pretty apparent she is just as messed up as her mother is and just doesn't know what to do. She has pretty much taken to being the mother in the relationship. Detective Mendez I really didn't get much of a handle on in this book besides him being old fashioned when it comes to not swearing in front of women and opening doors for them. I know in this case it was because of the fact we already see the guy in books #1 and 2. I just needed a bit more history included in this one about him. I thought the writing was typical Tami Hoag. She always has a way of turning a phrase or just making you think that the woman has looked into the darkest scariest minds out there. The POV from the serial rapist/killer were just awful. That said, the flow was all over the place. There were too many POVs to track and I wish that we had just either followed Lauren or if we needed more than one POV to just include Leah's perspective too. They were the new characters and I wanted to read more about them. I can see including Martinez's perspective, but maybe cut it down even more. And yes I know I just complained that I didn't get much history from the guy in this book, but there are happy mediums. The setting of Oak Knoll though it takes place in California really did read as either in the mid-west or east coast to me. I don't know why, it's just the book read as "dark" to me so having it take place in California really didn't work. Or maybe it's because I just finished a Kovac/Liksa book and my brain was set to Minnesota. The ending came out of nowhere and I may have coughed "bullshit" a few times when I got to it. Because seriously? There is a mention somewhere that can lead some readers to this ending, but you really have to be looking for it. Other than that I was not really blown away by the book. I think the gimmick of it taking place during I believe is 1990 to show how cases got solved prior to DNA testing and FBI profiling is a really cool idea. But, other than that, I really don't see what makes this book different than other mystery novels that take prior to those things being in existence either. I mean I read Sue Grafton novels and those books have all so far taken place in the 1980s.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Medeiros

    I know better than to start a Tami Hoag book when I want to accomplish anything else because once I started this one, I didn't want to put it down. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. It was so nice to revisit characters from her former novels like Vince and Anne Leone and Mendez. What Tami does best is incorporate emotion into her stories. (Probably a gift from her years as a bestselling romance author.) Even when she's writing police procedure, it's never JUST procedure. You feel every emot I know better than to start a Tami Hoag book when I want to accomplish anything else because once I started this one, I didn't want to put it down. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. It was so nice to revisit characters from her former novels like Vince and Anne Leone and Mendez. What Tami does best is incorporate emotion into her stories. (Probably a gift from her years as a bestselling romance author.) Even when she's writing police procedure, it's never JUST procedure. You feel every emotion the characters are feeling. This was a harrowing story in that Lauren's rage and grief as a mom whose teenage daughter disappeared without a trace is so real. You get frustrated by her apparent willingness to sacrifice her younger daughter Leah's happiness while seeking the truth, yet you also entirely identify with her and that's the sign of a skilled storyteller. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough and the action-packed conclusion was definitely worth the wait. Tami Hoag's gift is similar to Stephen King in that she can take you down the darkest roads of the human psyche but ultimately lead you back to a place where hope is still out there on the horizon. If you love suspense, I highly recommend this novel!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bill Garrison

    DOWN THE DARKEST ROAD is Tami Hoag's third thriller in the Oak Knoll Series. The novel is set in the late 1980s long before the internet, cell phones, DNA testing and other advances made it easier to catch criminals. This book is by far the worst in the series. While the characters were interesting, it felt like it never got out of the first act. The first 350 pages seemed to be just a set up for the final 75 page finale. Some might claim the suspense was more psychological. I'm not claiming tha DOWN THE DARKEST ROAD is Tami Hoag's third thriller in the Oak Knoll Series. The novel is set in the late 1980s long before the internet, cell phones, DNA testing and other advances made it easier to catch criminals. This book is by far the worst in the series. While the characters were interesting, it felt like it never got out of the first act. The first 350 pages seemed to be just a set up for the final 75 page finale. Some might claim the suspense was more psychological. I'm not claiming that wasn't well written or interesting, but there are only so many times you can read about the suffering of Lauren Lawton. Lauren has lots of reasons to suffer. Her 16-year-old daughter vanished and the suspected kidnapper/murder Roland Ballencoa was never even arrested for the crime. To make matters worse, Ballencoa had been harrassing Lauren through the years. Lauren and surviving daughter Leah moved to Oak Knoll to escape the specter of her other daughter's disappearance (she can't even stand the thought of thinking she is dead.) The jacket novel summary states that "a stunning question changes everything they thought they knew." I kept waiting for that stunning question. For a twist to break the monotony of the plodding plot. But nothing happens. Instead we get regulars like Tony Mendex and Anne Leone trying to comfort Lauren while at the same time trying to find evidence that Ballencoa is anything more than a major creep. Hoag has been one of my favorite authors for years, and I'll continue to read her books. Others may have enjoyed the plotting of this novel. I don't think Hoag made a mistake, she just chose to write a different type of novel that didn't really mesh with the jacket description.

  7. 5 out of 5

    CD {Boulder Blvd}

    This is the third book in the Oak Knoll Series by Tami Hoag. I have enjoyed all three books and having discovered them later was able to read all three books in a Tami Hoag binge reading week.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sandra Valente

    I absolutely loved this book even though it was completely heart wrenching. It's been a while since I have read anything by Tami Hoag and I felt like slapping myself for it, needless to say that I shall get my backside into gear. I've now realised that there were two books prior to this one with the first being 'Deeper than the Dead' and the second, 'Secrets to the Grave'. All I know is that I'm thankful it can be read as a stand alone. Vince Leone, an FBI agent and Tony Mendez, a detective - wh I absolutely loved this book even though it was completely heart wrenching. It's been a while since I have read anything by Tami Hoag and I felt like slapping myself for it, needless to say that I shall get my backside into gear. I've now realised that there were two books prior to this one with the first being 'Deeper than the Dead' and the second, 'Secrets to the Grave'. All I know is that I'm thankful it can be read as a stand alone. Vince Leone, an FBI agent and Tony Mendez, a detective - who is one of the main characters in 'Down the Darkest Road', make appearances in all three. I know I won't be the only one who will read or has read this book, to think or even try to imagine what it must be like for parents to lose a child, in any manner. This book affected me in more ways than one although the premise was different with the end result being the same. I personally haven't experienced the loss of a child and hope to God that I never do, but my neighbours have. Having offered as much support as is humanly possible in a situation such as this, I have seen and experienced first hand how acts of pure unnecessary evil can and continues to leave a gaping hole and permanent scar within a family. Some families, however much they try, aren't strong enough or don't have a support structure much as Lauren Lawton didn't have. My neighbours, bless them, had a support structure and are still holding strong - as strong as is God's will. So, as I sit here with tears in my eyes, I can only but smile up at Ryan, letting him know he will never be forgotten - for he hasn't really left, he is only but in the next room. Lauren Lawton's family is torn apart when her 16 year old daughter, Leslie, goes missing. Not only do Lauren and Lance lose a daughter, but 12 year old Leah, loses a sister. Lance, unable to bear the loss tragically ends his life by driving off a mountain. As far as Lauren and Leah, separately, are concerned, he took the easy way out. Although she will always love him, Lauren can never forgive him for this. She knows who is responsible for Leslie's disappearance, but nothing could and still cannot be proven. Technology as we know it today, was still unavailable in the 80's. She knows it's Roland Ballencoa, she's told the police it's him, but without proof he can't be charged. He's good though, and has had years of practice. He leaves nothing to chance making it that much more difficult to pin anything, however minute on him. Deciding that she and Leah need a change from Santa Barbara, they move to Oak Knoll, a town with a high college prescence, and stay at the girls' godparents' house. At the supermarket one day Lauren thinks she sees Ballencoa - could be her imagination, maybe she's just gone crazy or is exhausted beyond belief - and rams her trolley into that of Tony Mendez. Rushing out in order to see if it's really Ballencoa, with Tony Mendez in pursuit and unbeknowst to Lauren, she proceeds to drive dangerously. Tony stops her, not really for the way she was driving, but for the fact that what he witnessed inside of the supermarket, peaked his curiosity. After speaking with Lauren, he decides to learn more about the case, and if predator of young girls has indeed moved into his town. Periodically throughout the story, Lauren is writing her own book relating to the events that led to the night in question including her feelings of helplessness and ignorance as a mother to Leah. The parts that really got my hackels up in this story were those between Lauren and Leah. Lauren gave birth to two daughters, not one. Yes, Leslie is missing, has been missing for four years, but, Leah is still very much alive. She needs her mother, now probably more than ever. She has suffered as much of a tragedy and true to teenage angst, drugs or self mutilation are ways to stop the pain, if only for a while. Covering pain with pain is never a solution. It's truly a story that has many facets which both left me sympathising with Lauren, or wanting to shake some sense in to her at the same time in regards to her Leah. A cast of interesting characters are mixed and varied in this story with one of my favourites being Danni Tanner. She comes equipped with quite a foul mouth, yet despite this, she didn't come across as simply disgusting. Sometimes, it's necessary. The vibe I got throughout the book eludes to a love interest in a future book between Danni and Tony, although at the beginning I somehow thought it would be Lauren and Tony. Tony Mendez is one of the good guys and it always shows. As for the perp, that he unfortunately got away with what he was doing for so many years is disgusting. That a thing such as him had the gall to lay complaints against the police for harrassment and Lauren for stalking, had to be the most frustrating thing ever and although technology has evolved in leaps and bounds, its still very much evident in today's society that a lot of criminals can and do get away with most things whether due to insufficent evidence, or proper evidence gathering at crime scenes. Innocent until proven guilty is all well and good, but what about those that are truly guilty, yet are free to roam, further committing heinous crime after heinous crime, until such time as they are proven guilty? This said, it's a catch 22, caught between a rock and a hard place. I would hate for an innocent person to be locked up as if they are guilty until such time as they are proven innocent. Tough situation, one always open for debate (and no, I am not inviting such a debate) and it has happened, numerous times. A book worth my time, and yours.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie

    Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog! Down the Darkest Road was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Penguin Group (USA). 3.5 stars Set in the early 90s, ‘Down the Darkest Road’ is the third installment in Tami Hoag’s ‘Oak Knoll’ series. Once again we’re thrown into the world of Vince and Anne and Mendez where the current investigation deals with missing 16 year-old Leslie who disappears without a trace and her mother Laura who is left to cope with her absence. This was definitely a he Interested in more of my reviews? Visit my blog! Down the Darkest Road was kindly provided to me by Netgalley for Penguin Group (USA). 3.5 stars Set in the early 90s, ‘Down the Darkest Road’ is the third installment in Tami Hoag’s ‘Oak Knoll’ series. Once again we’re thrown into the world of Vince and Anne and Mendez where the current investigation deals with missing 16 year-old Leslie who disappears without a trace and her mother Laura who is left to cope with her absence. This was definitely a heartbreaking and emotional story; one that could’ve been plucked right from the front pages which made it scarily realistic. I’m becoming a big fan of Tami Hoag’s mysteries as she’s such a talented writer who is able to successfully write a concrete mystery with strong characters. Each detail is described extremely well and the story practically absorbs you straight into the pages. The pages flew with this one and I quite enjoyed the wrap-up on this one. The books in this series continue to be intense and exciting. Definitely recommended for existing Tami Hoag and for fans of mystery/thrillers!

  10. 4 out of 5

    ♥Rachel♥

    Imagine having your sixteen-year old daughter abducted; disappear without knowing if or where she's alive. Imagine knowing who took her and not being able to do anything about it! This is the situation Lauren Lawton finds herself in for the last four years. The Lawton family was once a happy family of four, husband and wife, with two daughters: Leslie and Leah, living a charmed life in Santa Barbara, California. Leslie being abducted has destroyed that. Lance, Lauren's husband couldn't take t Imagine having your sixteen-year old daughter abducted; disappear without knowing if or where she's alive. Imagine knowing who took her and not being able to do anything about it! This is the situation Lauren Lawton finds herself in for the last four years. The Lawton family was once a happy family of four, husband and wife, with two daughters: Leslie and Leah, living a charmed life in Santa Barbara, California. Leslie being abducted has destroyed that. Lance, Lauren's husband couldn't take the pain of losing Leslie, and in a tragic accident, he drove off a mountain road two years after Leslie's disappearance. For the last four years, Lauren's main focus in life is finding a way to make the man responsible, Roland Ballencoa pay. Needing a change in scenery for both her and Leah, Lauren decides to leave Santa Barbara and move to a small college town north, Oak Knoll. This all seems to be working out well until Lauren thinks she sees Roland in Oak Knoll, at the grocery store! Has he followed them up there or is her mind, tired from grief and lack of sleep, playing tricks on her? Lauren drops everything and pursues him out of the parking lot to see if it's really him. This captures the attention of Detective Tony Mendez, whom we've already met in the past two books. He pulls Lauren over for her erratic driving. When Tony finds out whom Lauren is and who she thinks she's seen he goes to work finding out more about this case. Tony wants to know if this child predator has moved into his backyard, and what his plans are. Also, if there is a female around in distress, Tony is there to save the day (can I have a Tony, please?)! This story is set in the same universe as Tami Hoag's previous novels Deeper than the Dead and Secrets to the Grave (Oak Knoll, #2). Both novels are set in the 1980's. Vince Leone an FBI agent and Tony Mendez a detective in Oak Knoll are central characters in all three. I loved both of these books, and was happy to get to see all these characters again! Tami does a wonderful job of capturing the feel of the 80's, bringing back a lot of memories for me! It was interesting to see how cases were worked without all of our modern technology. Both Vince and Tony are very involved in the "new concept" of profiling. I love Tony's character, he's so protective and chivalrous *swoon*! In both the first two books, Tony had lost on his love interest, so I was hoping for a match up for him here. There is, sort of but unfortunately it wasn't with the person I was hoping for him. Maybe it was a little too soon. Hopefully it works out in the next book. If you're looking for a well plotted mystery with romance, these books are a definite recommend! Thank you to NetGalley and The Penguin Group for allowing me to read this!

  11. 4 out of 5

    John

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I occasionally have to read something light and easy to read. Tami Hoag will not win the Nobel Prize for literature. However, her novels are easy to read and do have a twist usually hard to predict. This one was easy to see a mile away and the ending was a bit far fetched. I mean by that the serial killers suddenly got very sloppy. Like other reviewers I preferred her earlier books. The main protagonist Lauren has gone through two tragedies her daughter went missing and her husband drove off a cl I occasionally have to read something light and easy to read. Tami Hoag will not win the Nobel Prize for literature. However, her novels are easy to read and do have a twist usually hard to predict. This one was easy to see a mile away and the ending was a bit far fetched. I mean by that the serial killers suddenly got very sloppy. Like other reviewers I preferred her earlier books. The main protagonist Lauren has gone through two tragedies her daughter went missing and her husband drove off a cliff. Now she has moved to the same city of where the man she believes kidnapped and killed her daughter lives. She is not a likable character and makes some questionable life choices, very repetitive in places and the PI she uses is odd. Along comes Detective Perez who has to help solve this very solvable story but all they lack is evidence. It is part of a series of three books with this the final one although I would not rush out and buy them.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shaun

    The third in the Oak Knoll series, I actually thought this was the best. Hoag has a talent for creating angst and tragic characters. Nothing new here, but then again something doesn't have to be new or different to be entertaining. While occasionally cliche, I find her characters well-developed and likeable. Bottom line: Solid mystery, heavy on the psychological suspense with just enough action to keep it moving. The third in the Oak Knoll series, I actually thought this was the best. Hoag has a talent for creating angst and tragic characters. Nothing new here, but then again something doesn't have to be new or different to be entertaining. While occasionally cliche, I find her characters well-developed and likeable. Bottom line: Solid mystery, heavy on the psychological suspense with just enough action to keep it moving.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tez

    WARNNG: Self-harm, rape threats.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shania

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Well, what can I say? I had no clue that this was a "series" and, what do you know, I ended up reading the latest one. I feel a little cheated, but then again, I did do it to myself. But because I didn't read the first two, I think that may be why I wasn't so impressed? I wasn't attatched to any of the characters such as others may be, and so I started the book with a clean slate. And let me just say, I have no need to read the first two. First off, I want to just put this little fact into your Well, what can I say? I had no clue that this was a "series" and, what do you know, I ended up reading the latest one. I feel a little cheated, but then again, I did do it to myself. But because I didn't read the first two, I think that may be why I wasn't so impressed? I wasn't attatched to any of the characters such as others may be, and so I started the book with a clean slate. And let me just say, I have no need to read the first two. First off, I want to just put this little fact into your head, I AM A TEENAGER. Now, I do hear my fair share of foul language and crude remarks in my high school, so usually this kind of thing wouldn't throw me off. BUT HOLY CRAP! The story started perfectly normal - teen goes missing, parents are heart-broken, father kills himself, you know, the norm. But then towards the middle of the book, LORD HAVE MERCY! The mother, Lauren Lawton, relives her filthy night sleeping with her private investigator, Greg Hewitt, and then does it again on the front porch. Oh my, I felt as if I was reading "The 50 Shades of Gray". After reading the scenes, I felt like I needed a shower and to go to church and pray for forgiveness. I've ran into intimate scenes before in previous books I've read, but not quite as...DETAILED. Another point that sort of turned me away from liking this book is Roland Ballencoa. One thing I hated was his name, however, this was a personal thing, so I doubt anyone felt the same way. I had just finished the lovely book "Book of Lost Things" by John Connolly, and one of the characters was named Roland whom I absolutely adored. So then reading about how Tami Hoag's Roland was a pervert and a murderer was quite painful. But that's just me being me. Anyways, I was also disapointed about the fact that the kidnapper of Leslie really was Roland Ballencoa. Actually, Greg Hewitt was also involved, but still! I was expecting this HUGE plot twist, like maybe it really was Leslie's father, or maybe it was their family friend, Bump Bristol? But no. It was Roland (and Greg). Because of these silly little personal things, I never enjoyed this book. Though the end was fast-paced and exciting, the rest of the book was enough to cancel the ending out of the "love" equation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Curlyhair

    Book 3 in the series and my least favourite. Only one of the main characters from earlier books, played a big part. The main character, the mother, while in a bad position, just plain got on my nerves. Sorry to say, spoiler alert, it’s not difficult to know what is coming at the end. Not one the authors best in my humble opinion. Sorry!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nrithya

    In this one, the crime is already committed when the story begins. The person responsible for the crime is also known. The story is about how the villain finally gets what he deserves. Like one of the detectives says in the novel, "This isn't even a whodunit. This is a what-the-hell?". Set in 1990, a family goes through the tragedy of losing the first daughter (kidnapping) and later, the father (suicide). The narration is a bit disturbing as it follows a broken family (both literally and figurat In this one, the crime is already committed when the story begins. The person responsible for the crime is also known. The story is about how the villain finally gets what he deserves. Like one of the detectives says in the novel, "This isn't even a whodunit. This is a what-the-hell?". Set in 1990, a family goes through the tragedy of losing the first daughter (kidnapping) and later, the father (suicide). The narration is a bit disturbing as it follows a broken family (both literally and figuratively) where the younger daughter is trying to keep it together and live a normal life and the mother continues to obsess over the loss of the first daughter and keeps working on finding ways to make the culprit pay for what he has done to her family. You can feel the pain as you read about what goes on in the minds of the mother and the younger daughter. The culprit here is a very nasty and sick pervert who, for lack of conclusive evidence, has escaped the claws of the law for many years. The story moves at a reasonably brisk pace. The climax is a bit long-drawn and over-dramatic but all-in-all, another easy, engaging, quick read. My second Tami Hoag novel. This is book #3 in the Oak Knoll Series. Unlike me who first read book #2, I would suggest that you read the series in the right order so as to get introduced to the characters, their lives and the crime stories in the right sequence. "If you are going through hell, keep going" - Churchill's immortal words make an appearance!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Polley

    This book is about a mother who’s 16 year old daughter disappeared 4 years ago and who’s husband killed himself 2 years ago. Lauren is trying to rebuild a life with her youngest daughter (or is she?), who is now also about to turn 16. As we go deeper into the story, we find out that Lauren is the one stalking the man that she suspects took her daughter. Although it is obvious that Lauren has the right man, I didn’t see the twist coming and I thought it was a suitably dramatic ending. I would have l This book is about a mother who’s 16 year old daughter disappeared 4 years ago and who’s husband killed himself 2 years ago. Lauren is trying to rebuild a life with her youngest daughter (or is she?), who is now also about to turn 16. As we go deeper into the story, we find out that Lauren is the one stalking the man that she suspects took her daughter. Although it is obvious that Lauren has the right man, I didn’t see the twist coming and I thought it was a suitably dramatic ending. I would have liked a nice ending for Leslie and thought maybe they had been holding her somewhere all this time but at least the story had closure. I also wanted Mendez to get with Lauren but it seems like he’s going to get with Tanner. I see that this is the 3rd in a series so I will definitely look out for the other books.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

    I was glad to be back in the reading world of Oak Knoll. The author writes well, the story is heart wrenching, and there are a few surprises and twists. I was able to guess one of the twists, but it was pretty far into the story that I realized what was going on. The young girls and their senses of loss, of well-being, were ones I wanted to see become whole again. If there are more Oak Knoll stories, I will find them!

  19. 5 out of 5

    M.E. Tudor

    I had a hard time feeling sorry for the main character of this story, but it's still really good. I wanted to kill the bad guy several times over. I'm sure anyone who reads this will too. It's also a good example of how the laws are set up to protect the bad people. I had a hard time feeling sorry for the main character of this story, but it's still really good. I wanted to kill the bad guy several times over. I'm sure anyone who reads this will too. It's also a good example of how the laws are set up to protect the bad people.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    The plot and story lines eclipsed the characters.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Keri

    Down the Darkest Road was very hard to read, not because it wasn’t a good book. It was, but child abduction is never easy to read about….ever. Lauren and her 16 year old daughter, Leah, have moved to Oak Knoll to try and get away from the past 4 years. Four years ago Lauren’s daughter was kidnapped and she was never located. Two years ago Lauren’s husband died in an accident. The only thing that has been keeping her together was her hatred of the man that she knows had something to do with the d Down the Darkest Road was very hard to read, not because it wasn’t a good book. It was, but child abduction is never easy to read about….ever. Lauren and her 16 year old daughter, Leah, have moved to Oak Knoll to try and get away from the past 4 years. Four years ago Lauren’s daughter was kidnapped and she was never located. Two years ago Lauren’s husband died in an accident. The only thing that has been keeping her together was her hatred of the man that she knows had something to do with the disappearance of her daughter. She hasn’t let up on the police, the public, the man she holds responsible or herself. Not once. Now Lauren is on the edge of collapse and Leah isn’t in much better shape. Was Lauren there to try and heal or was there a more sinister purpose on the horizon? Who was actually stalking who? It is easy to read the book and say I would have done that, or I would have done this, but who knows how we would react in these horrible circumstances. This is a pretty gritty book and TH doesn’t pull in punches when she brings us into the mind of our perpetrator, pervert and/or stalker , depending on how you look at it. Things are not as black and white as they seem with Lauren or Leah and I felt sorry for them both. Anne had it right, with the blind leading the blind. I figured the twist out about halfway through the book. I also felt for Lauren as she was going to find out just how far a betrayal was going to go. I know that you read this series for the sexy Vince Leon, but he and Anne have a small role in this one. Nick plays the bigger part and I am ok with that. He does a fine job of playing leading man. Does he actually have a love interest that isn’t a wounded bird? I liked Tanner equally and wanted to wash her mouth out with soap at the same time. I also think she is a good foil for Nick. This does well as a stand alone without having read the other books in the series as this one doesn’t really relate to the other two. There is passing mention of cases worked, but nothing a person couldn’t follow. The only niggle I had was that I wish we could have had a bit more ending with Lauren and Leah. We had lived with their anguish for so long; I would have liked to have been with them more at the end. Letting us see the ways that their relationship was on the mend and also mental strides Lauren and Leah was taken to heal.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Leslie - MamaNeedsABook

    Once upon a time I had the perfect family. I had the perfect husband. I had the perfect children. I had the perfect life in the perfect home. And then, as in all fairy tales, evil came into our lives and destroyed us. That quote makes for a pretty good summary of the book! Lauren Lawton has a perfect life that comes crashing down when her oldest daughter, Leslie, is kidnapped. The book opens 4 years later when Lauren and her remaining daughter Leah move to Oak Knoll to start over. Lauren's husban Once upon a time I had the perfect family. I had the perfect husband. I had the perfect children. I had the perfect life in the perfect home. And then, as in all fairy tales, evil came into our lives and destroyed us. That quote makes for a pretty good summary of the book! Lauren Lawton has a perfect life that comes crashing down when her oldest daughter, Leslie, is kidnapped. The book opens 4 years later when Lauren and her remaining daughter Leah move to Oak Knoll to start over. Lauren's husband has killed himself. The case is still open. Yeah, it's not going well for the Lawtons. But to top it off they know exactly who kidnapped Leslie, but have no proof. So he is just roaming free and this fact has pretty much driven Lauren Lawton over the edge. This was my first book by Tami Hoag - it was given to me along with another of her books. So I started in the middle of this series - I wish I would have started at the beginning, I think I may go back and read them! All in all I thought it was great! I usually really hate rich characters - which this family was. But there was so much tragedy falling on these people I guess they had to have something going for them! And the writing was very readable and intriguing so it had me hooked! I really enjoyed the book. The ending was satisfying but a bit far-fetched so I'm going with 3.5 rounded to 4 stars. Follow me and see all my reviews @ mamaneedsabook.blogspot.com

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sherri F.

    Audio (MP3): This #3 in Oak Knoll series, but my first in this series & by this author, and it definitely won't be my last. It makes references to cases in #1 & 2, but detailed enough that it is not nec. to read first, but I plan to go back to them b/c liked story-telling style as well as re-occurring characters. Good, intense & haunting, esp. for parents of girls. Good read or listen (narrated by good & popular Kristen Potter); suspenseful page-turner. I look forward to others in this series as Audio (MP3): This #3 in Oak Knoll series, but my first in this series & by this author, and it definitely won't be my last. It makes references to cases in #1 & 2, but detailed enough that it is not nec. to read first, but I plan to go back to them b/c liked story-telling style as well as re-occurring characters. Good, intense & haunting, esp. for parents of girls. Good read or listen (narrated by good & popular Kristen Potter); suspenseful page-turner. I look forward to others in this series as well as trying out some of her other series. Set in Oak Knoll, CA in 1990 and begins 4 yrs after 16 yr old Santa Barbara girl goes missing and 2 yrs after girl's father kills himself in a car accident. Missing girl's mother (Lauren) and now 16 yr old sister (12 at the time) are staying a family friend's home in Oak Knoll to get away from memories and awareness of their story in SB. Lauren believes she knows who took her daughter and is determined to prove it; however, it overshadows her daughter that is still alive. After Lauren knocks into Detective Tony Mendez in grocery store and he sees her driving erratically out of the parking lot b/c she sees the suspected predator, Tony learns of the situation and begins looking into the case. Also, a former PI Lauren hired shows up in Oak Knoll and a lot of cat & mouse games begin and drama of all kinds as disturbing new information is learned as it comes to a suspenseful and violent conclusion.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    Frightening plot (parent's nightmare), definitive characters, graphic sex (POV mostly), foul language, it's stand-alone & well-read (Kirsten Potter) in audio version. The title concerns the mother's decisions not just the tragedy - she is, easily, the most selfish character I've met in a novel - ever. It's ALL about her. I came to actively dislike her. I dislike 'the bad guys' (who doesn't?). I liked others, including the remaining child. Consequently, the author did succeed in making me "like o Frightening plot (parent's nightmare), definitive characters, graphic sex (POV mostly), foul language, it's stand-alone & well-read (Kirsten Potter) in audio version. The title concerns the mother's decisions not just the tragedy - she is, easily, the most selfish character I've met in a novel - ever. It's ALL about her. I came to actively dislike her. I dislike 'the bad guys' (who doesn't?). I liked others, including the remaining child. Consequently, the author did succeed in making me "like or dislike," which shows talent. However, novels aren't meant to be sex manuals or instruction books for cussing. I know very few people who use such language even under stress & not being a voyeur or requiring "instruction" in either, guess I'm blessed....

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lorrie

    Difficult to get out of my car with this audio CD playing. Found so many excuses to go somewhere for a bit. Sixteen year old female disappears without a trace. This catches your interest. The only reason for 4 instead of 5 stars is that the pervert in this book is so creepy and does such disgusting things, I felt slightly sickened sometimes. He is horrid!!! The ending is really done nicely. I'd love to recommend this book to people but the disgusting parts won't let me. Difficult to get out of my car with this audio CD playing. Found so many excuses to go somewhere for a bit. Sixteen year old female disappears without a trace. This catches your interest. The only reason for 4 instead of 5 stars is that the pervert in this book is so creepy and does such disgusting things, I felt slightly sickened sometimes. He is horrid!!! The ending is really done nicely. I'd love to recommend this book to people but the disgusting parts won't let me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    ~☆~Autumn♥♥☔ Wells

    There are many books about serial killers but this is one of the best as she gives us pointers on protecting ourselves from all the vicious monsters that are out there. She says women are too helpful and its true. Its too bad that the state of Colorado didn't execute Ted Bundy when they had him in jail as they would have saved the lives of many women and one little girl in Florida. I hope they will all be executed sooner. There are many books about serial killers but this is one of the best as she gives us pointers on protecting ourselves from all the vicious monsters that are out there. She says women are too helpful and its true. Its too bad that the state of Colorado didn't execute Ted Bundy when they had him in jail as they would have saved the lives of many women and one little girl in Florida. I hope they will all be executed sooner.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. #39- 2017 As the final book in the series, I was unimpressed with the character continuation. The first 2 books were about Vince and Anne, and this third book really only utilized the setting. There was no closure for the cases in the first two books, nor real closure on the recurring characters. I was expecting a lot more from this book and was let down.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Written differently than the last 2 in this series, we know the perpetrator immediately. We can build a sense of hate & resentment against him, yet never truly find out what happened to his first victim. A great twist at the end....

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    This was totally like a lifetime movie - morally superior with a vengeance seeking mother and lots of skeezy details. Also the narrator had a breathy "flowers in the attic adult Cathy voice over" esque voice, which only added to it. Kinda dumb, but in an enjoyable way. This was totally like a lifetime movie - morally superior with a vengeance seeking mother and lots of skeezy details. Also the narrator had a breathy "flowers in the attic adult Cathy voice over" esque voice, which only added to it. Kinda dumb, but in an enjoyable way.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Austin

    I can't believe I finished this rubbish. What a waste of my life. I should have my library card revoked for this shocking error in judgment and taste. I can't believe I finished this rubbish. What a waste of my life. I should have my library card revoked for this shocking error in judgment and taste.

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