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by Tami Hoag
Bantam, March 2006
384 pages
ISBN: 0553801988

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Minneapolis judge Carey Moore's recent decision has caused an uproar in the city. Serial murderer Karl Dahl's attorney has asked the court not to allow his client's prior bad acts to be presented in his trial. Judge Moore has agreed and ruled in Dahl's favor. The community and the police are angry since Dahl is accused of torturing and murdering two children and their mother.

That day as the judge is leaving her office and going to her car she is attacked and beaten in the parking lot. Meanwhile in jail, Dahl is injured by some inmates and taken to a hospital where he is able to escape.

Moore is suddenly receiving threatening phone calls from the person who attacked her. Not only is her life being threatened but also the lives of her husband and daughter as well. It's up to homicide cops Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska to protect the judge and her family.

To make matters worse, Moore's marriage is falling apart. Her husband always seems to be busy with his job but the judge suspects he's having an affair. Of course he denies it but his actions and lack of attention towards her is suspicious.

As the police investigate the judge's attack and try to find the escaped murderer they soon learn that there are many people who might want to harm the judge including the police detective who discovered the mutilated bodies of the woman and her children.

PRIOR BAD ACTS is an excellent book and I enjoyed it. The cast of characters is interesting and the readers can actually feel for the judge as she suffers with the way her husband treats her.

The book starts out telling about a horrific murder but to her credit, author Tami Hoag doesn't go into it in much detail. The reader is told how the three bodies were found but we don't see the murder being committed.

There is a well-crafted ending with a surprise twist on who committed the murder and why it took place. Even though at times the readers might suspect who the murderer is Hoag does a wonderful job in pointing their attention in other directions. She always keeps you guessing.

I'm delighted how Hoag wrote a top-notch thriller like PRIOR BAD ACTS. She started out as a romance writer and then switched her genre to mystery. Her early whodunits had a lot of romance in them and it took quite a bit away from the mystery line of the story. But during the years Hoag has turned into a talented writer. Yes, her books still have a bit of romance in them but no more so than other books in the genre. PRIOR BAD ACTS is a first class thriller. Don't miss it.

Reviewed by Sharon Katz, May 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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