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Book review: <i>Dust To Dust</i> by Tami Hoag

You’ll all be pleased to hear that Tami Hoag’s Dust To Dust is slightly less irritating than the only marginally irritating A Thin Dark Line, which is quite a positive step. Once again, a by-the-book thriller type with all the prerequisites, and I’ll tell you now unequivocally I prefer Tami Hoag to James Patterson. By a long shot. She just puts in more effort, and she isn’t pretending to be anything other than an author of pulp thrillers, so she gets points for both of those things. Oh, and while her books are light and easy to read and finish, they do have a little substance to them.

The content

Nikki Liska and her partner Sam Kovac from homicide are wise-crackin’, fast-talkin’, straight-shootin’ cops; trying to make up their numbers, solve their cases, and live what little they have of their lives. Liska is trying to raise two boys and avoid the charms of her narc ex-husband, and Kovac has no life—it’s the job or nothing. And then they are called to a suicide—the suicide of a cop son of a cop who was paralysed in the line of duty twenty years before, coming to the aid of another officer.

But is it all as simple as it sounds? As the body count rises, and the threats get personal, the charismatic T.V. cop gets more press, and the mysterious young woman from internal affairs gets cosy with Kovac, Liska and Kovac are thrust into the dirty world of corrupt cops, the homophobic culture in the force, and a mystery that dates back twenty years. But how many people will get hurt in the process?

Like I said, this story has all the thriller elements present, accounted for, and in the right amounts. The characters aren’t bad; fairly well rounded, and the reader experiences empathy with them in all the right places. The one problem with the characters is that they are just too smart-mouthed all the time. If they really conversed with those witty bantering one-liners as often as they seem to, they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do any police work because they’d be too busy coming up with their next retort. However, unlike A Thin Dark Line, where I felt the issues that the female members of the police force suffered due to a culture of endemic sexism bordered on overkill and just detracted from the story, in Dust To Dust the social issues were covered really well. The issues of Liska, as a female cop, were real but not overdone, (although she had a mouth like a trooper and I found that annoying in the beginning before I got to know her) and the issue of homosexuality in the police force and in society was also addressed but not in a way that suggested preaching. It was all very subtle but got the point across and I thought it was very well handled within the context of the story.

I finished it in a day, but that was what I was after, and it was a good thriller: not too much of the gory detail of the senseless violence; enough delving into the personalities of the characters involved; enough foreshadowing that I knew whodunnit but enough of a twist that I didn’t know it all. Not bad for a pulp thriller, not bad at all.

Who is this book for?

This is another one of those switch-your-brain-off entertainment novels. Read it on the bus home from work, in your lunch break, before bed, or on a lazy day where you don’t want to put much effort in and you want to just get some light entertainment and not have to think about it.

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Read another Tami Hoag, I guess. Or read something British. They’re usually just classier than American thrillers. It must be that dry British wit.

In short

Title: Dust To Dust
Author: Tami Hoag
Publisher: Bantam Books
ISBN: 0553582526
Year published: 2000
Pages: 480
Review Type: