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on 4 January 2012
Lauren Lawton happily married living in Santa Barbara with two children has the perfect life until the disappearance of her sixteen year-old daughter Lesley. In the space of one afternoon Lauren's life turns from joy to nightmare. And four years on the nightmare continues - her daughter never found and her husband dead, Lauren lives in anger and fear with her younger daughter Leah now fifteen, just the age that Lesley was when she disappeared.

Although Lesley has never been found, Lauren knows who took her daughter but without a single piece of evidence the police are powerless to do anything and despite their pity for Laurens plight her constant haranguing of the police department have worn thin their patience. Now Lauren has moved to Oak Knoil but has the man who took her daughter also moved to Oak Knoil - is he stalking her?

Aptly titled it is indeed a dark road that Lauren is travelling, accompanied by her daughter Leah who should as a teenager be enjoying life but who lives daily in the shadow of her missing elder sister and her mother's total preoccupation with bringing to justice the abductor of her daughter. Whilst the loss of a child, particularly in these circumstances is unbelievably horrific, this story illustrates how a tragic event can consume one to the detriment of everything and everyone.

Written in first person journal form by Lauren as she seeks to gain catharsis by recording the events as she remembers them, and by multiple third person points of view, we gain a picture of the lives of the people touched by this terrible event. The overriding emotion is one of powerlessness as Lauren tries to protect her remaining child, but at every turn she seems to be the one in the wrong as she reacts in panic when matters begin to move beyond her control. Not a comfortable book, but one that will remain with you long after you have turned the last page, as one cannot help but wonder `what would I do in these circumstances'?

Highly recommended.
Lizzie Hayes
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on 8 February 2012
It is rare to find a book you need to make preparations to read, Down the Darkest Road is one.

Set aside a complete day free of any kind of interruption, prepare snacks, drinks, warm clothing, and a good reading light, as once you start this book you cannot put it down, which if anything like me, was way into the wee small hours!

The story is set in Oak Knoll, and there are walk on parts by characters from Tami's two previous books, but the story can stand perfectly alone without their support. Even the name Oak Knoll instills dark forebodings bringing to mind the Romans and the Nazis use of oak leaves for insignia, and Knoll as in grassy knoll in the JFK assassination!

Despite having everything a woman dreams of, tragedy arrives at the door of Lauren Lawton when a stalker abducts her elder daughter. The story starts six years later, after an in depth police investigation, a media storm, and after no body is found and no one is charged.

They relocate to Oak Knoll so that she and her younger child can move to the next phase of their lives in a house Down the Darkest Road. Lauren makes some iffy choices, which have stark consequences, all of which will keep you sitting on the edge of your seat.

Through a clever and detailed plot, we are led, step by step, page by page, in the treads of Lauren's plan to provoke a conclusion to the awful situation.

Detailing the plot here would spoil it for other readers.

This well-written book is not for the feint of heart; it is graphic, it is passionate, with a powerful finale. It has the intensity of Ashes to Ashes, and had the promise of Dark Horse.

Tami has a gift for metaphor and simile: on page 117 we learn of Lauren's purchase of a full-size male silhouette at the gun target range! and on page 151 Lauren feels her interaction with the police is "another verse in a poem of futility".

I will think of this book each time I fill my washing machine!

Fulfilling, enjoyable read. Recommended.
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on 6 April 2014
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
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on 30 October 2015
A really good read with a desperate storyline. It tells a sad story of a family all but destroyed by a tragic event. There is plenty of suspense & you can feel the mother's anger & futility. worth a read
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I have read all Tami Hoag's books and this is not one of the best. It was quite boring in bits as it concentrated on Lauren's disturbed state of mind. I have no doubt that Lauren is a life like depiction of a mother faced with the loss of a child and a suspect walking around free but it doesn't make her a sympathetic character or her troubles particularly engaging.
What is more interesting is the evolution of stalking laws over the past 25 years. It is inconceivable nowadays that a stranger would be breaking no laws by taking pictures of children in a park or that the police could or would do nothing about perceived harassment.
This book ramps up to an action packed finale but getting there was, for me, tedious in parts.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 15 January 2012
Intense, gritty, terrifying - the latest in Tami Hoag's Oak Knoll series is a page-turner par excellence. The time setting is the late 1980s - 90s when tracing by DNA had not been fully developed and information via computer was not as available as it is now. Hence, tracing a criminal was a much more challenging task for law enforcement officers. In this case, not only tracing but proving guilt.

We're introduced to the story through the eyes of Lauren Lawton who writes, "Once upon a time I had the perfect family. I had the perfect husband: Handsome, loving, successful. I had the perfect children: Leslie and Leah - beautiful, brilliant, precious girls. I had the perfect life in the perfect home, in the perfect place......And then, as in all fairy tales, evil came into our lives and destroyed us."

Evil came in the person of a barbarous, vile individual, Roland Ballencoa. Four years ago he had abducted Leslie or the police were pretty certain he had - but they could not prove it. Not too long after the girl's abduction Lauren's husband drove off a bridge; it was thought a suicide due to the stress and guilt of being unable to protect his daughter.

Bent on revenge and driven to the point of exhaustion Lauren takes Leah and moves to Oak Knoll hoping to put at least a small part of their tragic past behind them. That is not be for she soon finds that Ballencoa is also in Oak Knoll, stalking mother and daughter. It's all an insidious game to him, watching, frightening, taking pictures with his camera.

Lauren is reluctant to go to the police as they've not helped her in the past, but considered her a royal pain in the neck for constantly pushing them to arrest Ballencoa, to find Leslie. But Ballencoa is a wily beast, evidently never breaking the law, but silently stalking. Lauren is sickened to realize that in her case the person believed to be a criminal actually has more legal rights than she does. Eventually, she does turn to Detective Tony Menendez who believes her but can see no way to help her.

Hoag has woven a gripping tale, written in brief chapters, almost staccato-like, quick as a bullet which leaves the reader sometimes gasping, always turning pages. Down The Darkest Road is epic suspense seasoned with ravaged emotions and cliff-hanger scenes. Strong medicine so keep all the houselights on.

- Gail Cooke
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on 20 January 2014
This was a purchase for someone and I have never read it, but it arrived on time and was at a good price so I don't want the sellers to loose out on a good rating for something I have not read, although the person who has, loves it!
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on 15 December 2013
I bought this first book out of interest of the blurb and goof reviews.
Never have I read Book by it author before but I love it and downloaded another few different copies to my kindle.
Sick, nail biting , mother revenge will make you turn each page with excitement and curiosity.
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on 7 January 2014
This is the third book in the Oak Knoll series and another great read. Tami Hoag is a fabulous writer and this book captured my attention from the start and had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn't put the book down! I would definitely recommend, although I suggest reading the books in the correct order so that you are familiar with the characters and background.
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on 11 May 2015
I loved the plot. If you are the kind who loves thrills and chills, just like I do, this one is for you. Full of mystery and suspense, this book will not let you down. It depicts the terror and grief of a mother when her child is kidnapped and not found. It shows the anger and frustration of a mother at knowing that the person who has hurt your child is roaming free and still poses a threat to her and society at large.

* Anne cutting herself is unnecessary and unexplained!
* Lauren Lawton's sudden bouts of anger (e.g. unprovoked, she flings her expensive glasses in the parking lot)
* Neglect for her second daughter was not necessary
* Lauren Lawton's sleeping with Hewitt was conflicting. They were not even close! Lauren strictly avoids making friends after her daughter's kidnapping, so how come she jumps into bed with a man she hardly knows! This really baffles me.

Overall the book is enjoyable and engrossing. I recommend reading it.
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