Title: Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 390 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher through Penguin’s First to Read Program
#1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag delivers a shocking new thriller
Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until a notorious serial killer tried to add her to his list of victims. Nearly a year has passed since surviving her ordeal, but the physical, emotional, and psychological scars run deep. Struggling with the torment of post-traumatic stress syndrome, plagued by flashbacks and nightmares as dark as the heart of a killer, Dana returns to her hometown in an attempt to begin to put her life back together. But home doesn’t provide the comfort she expects.
Dana’s harrowing story and her return to small town life have rekindled police and media interest in the unsolved case of her childhood best friend, Casey Grant, who disappeared without a trace the summer after their graduation from high school. Terrified of truths long-buried, Dana reluctantly begins to look back at her past. Viewed through the dark filter of PTSD, old friends and loved ones become suspects and enemies. Questioning everything she knows, refusing to be defined by the traumas of her past and struggling against excruciating odds, Dana seeks out a truth that may prove too terrible to be believed…
Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag is a very compelling and intriguing murder mystery. The unique storyline also provides an in-depth and interesting glimpse into the psychological and physical after-effects of traumatic brain injuries and PTSD. The resulting story is captivating and it is quite interesting watching the pieces of the puzzle fall into place.
Lead protagonist Dana Nolan is the only survivor of sadistic serial killer but she is forever changed by her harrowing ordeal. Beaten, tortured and raped after her kidnapping, she managed to escape but she suffered a traumatic brain injury that she is still struggling to overcome. After months of intensive therapy, she is finally released from the hospital but she is far from healed. Dana has long and short term memory problems and she has difficulty handling ordinary, everyday tasks. No longer the sunny, confident, cheerful young woman she was before the kidnapping, Dana is dealing with anger and impulse control issues and her memory gaps leave her doubting her judgment.
Dana’s return to her childhood sparks renewed interest in her best friend Casey Grant’s long ago disappearance. On her first night back in town, Dana runs into Casey’s ex-boyfriend, John Villante, who was a person of interest during the original investigation. John is a veteran who is fighting to make a life for himself following his discharge from the military, but his PTSD makes it difficult for him to hold down a job.
Dana also quickly crosses paths with her first love, Tim Carver. Once the town’s Golden Boy, Tim’s future did not quite go the way he planned, and he, too, has recently returned to their hometown. Now a deputy with the local police department, he is still charming and good natured and while he is sympathetic to Dana’s situation, Tim discourages her from her investigation.
But the most difficult change for Dana’s family is her unexpected antipathy toward her stepfather, Roger. A state senator currently in a tight race for re-election, Roger has largely ignored Dana during her recovery and he is impatient with the changes in her personality. Their current interactions are antagonistic and his lack of understanding of her medical conditions leads to some very tense situations between the two.
At first Dana’s recollection of those long ago events is hazy, but she quickly begins to piece together the days leading up to Casey’s disappearance. New information comes to light and her viewpoint of certain events changes, and leads her a very startling discovery. The murderer hatches a desperate plan to silence her and Dana unwittingly puts herself in danger as she tries to make sense of everything she has uncovered.
Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag is a riveting novel that is impossible to put down. A large suspect pool, red herrings and unexpected twists and turns make it difficult to figure out the killer’s identity. Fans of the genre do not want to miss this suspense laden and immensely fascinating mystery.