The first suspense mystery in the Deer Lake series from Sunday Times bestselling author Tami Hoag.
Deer Lake is a small Minnesota town where people know their neighbours and crime is something that happens on the evening news. But the illusion of safety is shattered when eight-year-old Josh Kirkwood disappears. All the police find is his duffel bag with a note stuffed inside, 'Ignorance is not innocence but SIN'.
With each passing hour the search for Josh takes on a more ominous intensity. For Megan O'Malley, the new regional officer of the state criminal investigative unit, it is a test of whether she can cut it in the all-male world of local cops. And for police chief Mitch Holt, it is a frightening reminder of the big city crime that devastated his life before he fled to Deer Lake ...
Touted as the author's hardcover breakout novel (Hoag was the erstwhile bestselling star of Bantam's Loveswept romance series), this thriller, despite a compelling premise and several intriguing characters, ultimately disappoints. The Norman Rockwell-esque community of Deer Lake, Minn., takes a turn toward Stephen King territory when the local lady doctor's son is snatched by a fiend who leaves enigmatic notes. Attempting to crack the case, feisty feminist Megan O'Malley-who hopes to become the first female field agent for the male-dominated Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension-finds herself paired with Mitch Holt, the town's love-scarred sheriff (and recovering alcoholic) who is facing assorted personal demons. Though Hoag provides occasional passages of genuine suspense, the intrigue here is never fully realized. Her overwritten narrative becomes burdened with repetition (the distraught parents' angst, the one-dimensional protagonists' self-destructive coupling), and she substitutes cliched internal monologues and emotional outbursts for real human feelings and motivations. The unfortunate coup de grace comes in the form of a poorly resolved conclusion. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternate selection; major ad/promo; TV rights sold to CBS; BDD audio.