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by Tami Hoag
Bantam Doubleday Dell, August 2002
435 pages
ISBN: 0553801929

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In the book’s introduction, author Tami Hoag gives readers a glimpse of her personal interests when not working on a new novel. She has been a professional equestrian for all of her adult life and will use her knowledge in her latest work. Ms. Hoag uses this unique opportunity to integrate her experiences into this novel involving the disappearance of a young horse groomer in Palm Beach Florida. It is unfortunate that the plot does not live to reader’s expectations.

Elena Estes is a disgraced cop living in self-imposed exile after botching an undercover operation that resulted in the death of a police office. She is physically and emotionally scarred from the experience and the only thing she looks forward is death and oblivion. She has been staying with an old friend riding his horses, but her life is about to change when she least expects it. A twelve-year-old girl named Molly has tracked Elena down and she wants to hire her to find her missing older sister. Molly claims that she and Erin are close but that no one cares to find her. Elena reluctantly agrees to take the case and learns that Erin worked for one of the most controversial horse traders in Florida and no one is concerned that she disappeared. During the course of her investigation, Estes will come face-to-face with dangerous characters purchased at the local Stereotypes ‘r Us and will have a life-affirming experience thanks to a twelve-year-old girl. Could this story get any cheesier?

It is good for an author to share their passions to their readers, but that only works well in interviews, essays and nonfiction work. The story is too predictable, too corny, with too many OH PUHLEEEZE moments. The author shot herself in the foot when she mentions the television show LAW & ORDER several times throughout the novel. After careful review there were at least five episodes of the hit show used for the plot of the story. When the truth is revealed with Erin’s disappearance you will think of a classic episode with McCoy after he backs down from a deal with a defendant after learning new details about the case. The surprises in this book are whimpers with nothing new to show for it. If you need to read Tami Hoag, try ASHES TO ASHES. For LAW & ORDER episodes, check your local TNT listings or catch them Wednesday nights on NBC.

Reviewed by Angel L. Soto, April 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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