The mystery and suspense in Tami Hoag's DOWN THE DARKEST ROAD plays straight to the reader's vicarious need for thrills and chills as well as their need to know. Protagonist Lauren Lawton is living every parent's worst nightmare. Four years earlier, Lauren's 16-year-old daughter, Leslie, disappeared from a quiet road on the outskirts of Santa Barbara, while on her way home from a softball game. The who, what, where, when and why of her disappearance have remained a mystery. Police were unable to develop any proof against their only suspect, Roland Ballencoa, a convicted sex offender and he walked free.
Two years after her daughter's disappearance, Lauren's husband was killed in an automobile accident. Now alone with her only remaining child Leah, Lauren is out for revenge against the man who she sees as responsible for the loss of her husband and daughter. If the police won't or can't bring Ballencoa to justice she will just have to do it herself.
As a reader I enjoy "kick ass and take names" stories, but as a mother I was a bit put off by Lauren. She was a little too focused on her feelings and need for revenge seemed almost oblivious to the possible consequences of her obsessive behavior on her remaining daughter, Leah, which made me begin to dislike rather than admire her. While mom is busy focusing her tunnel vision on fulfilling her "mission" to avenge her oldest daughter, 15 year Leah is left to cope with the loss of her sister and father in her own way. This woman is definitely not a candidate for the mother of the year award although she may qualify for the Bruce Willis - Die Hard plaque.
While Lauren was not a favorite, I did like the two detectives Mendez and Tanner and while I could have done very nicely without the gratuitous sex scenes, overall, this was a thought provoking and enjoyable read