Let me start this review by saying that I have been on an 80's kick for the last month or so, and that may have influenced my decision to read Deeper Than the Dead right now. I also want to say that in 1985, my parents had only been married for two years and that I wasn't even born yet (1986, baby!).
Deeper Than the Dead is very different from most books that I read in that it takes place in a time that isn't "historical" (i.e. before the invention of most modern conveniences) it also isn't contemporary (i.e. anything since the invention of the Ipod). It is also different because I know more about what is going to happen to the world at large over the next 27 years than the characters in the book. (While I sometimes read historical romance novels, my knowledge of the years surrounding the novels' action is slim. I might know that a book that takes place in France in 1814 will probably have characters affected by Wellington's defeat of Napoleon a year later, but I won't know much more than that.) With this book and the 80s television shows/movies that I have been watching lately, I know that the character whose blood mixed with someone else's or who constantly engages in sex could end up getting HIV/AIDS. I don't know if other people have that issue, but I do. Sometimes that distracts me from the storytelling (for instance, last week I was watching an episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King (don't judge me) and I realized that Lee should have had some type of STD from all the women he was supposedly sleeping with. It was a weird thought and it totally took me out of the action.) Thankfully, with Deeper Than the Dead, there weren't many moments like that--however, when Vince described a cell phone as having to be carried in a suitcase I couldn't stop the laughter despite seeing an 80's era cell phone on an old episode of Doctor Who (the one where Rose gets the Doctor to take her to 1987 to see her father).
Now, if anyone is still with me (hey, it is 2:30 in the morning, I have the right to ramble a little bit), I'll actually review the book.
Welcome to Oak Knoll--a small town with BIG secrets. In October of 1985, Oak Knoll played host to a serial killer dubbed See No Evil because he liked to blind, deafen, and mute his victims. (Each victim had her eardrums destroyed and her mouth and eyes glued shut.) Fairly quickly, readers are supplied with a handful of suspects and very little evidence (probably because DNA analysis wasn't available and the only real forensic measure they had was blood typing). After realizing that there is a serial killer at work, Detective Tony Mendez gets his boss to agree to bring in FBI profiler Vince Leone (did anyone else combine their names and start humming Billy Joel's Movin' Out? No? just me then.) Also involved in the investigation is fifth grade teacher Anne Navarre because 4 of her students literally fell on the dead woman's body.
What I really liked about this book (other than the sporadic mentions of John Douglas and Robert Ressler--the dude who coined the term 'serial killer' in 1977!!!) was that Ms. Hoag kept me guess right to the end--I had my suspicions, but each time I thought I figured it out another red herring would be thrown at me. It wasn't until I was about 100 pages from the end that I mostly figured out who the killer was, and even then I wasn't completely sure (the only thing I was sure of was that the killer wasn't the obvious choice).
I also liked the pop culture references, even though I possess only a vague impression of shows like Dallas (Who Shot J.R.), Macguyver (dude can get out of anything with a paper clip and a stick of gum), and Dynasty.
The one thing that bugged me about the book was that there were way too many narrators. At my last count there were at least 8 narrators. While this helped at times, it did sometimes bog down the narrative in details that weren't really relevant.
Overall, I would rate this at 4 stars/A-. (Tomorrow morning--I need sleep, people!--I will start Secrets to the Grave, sequel to Deeper Than the Dead.)