Lauren Lawton had everything. She had the perfect husband
and the perfect daughters. They even had perfect,
coordinated names: Lauren Lawton, Lance Lawton, Leslie
Lawton and Leah Lawton. Yes, Lauren had the perfect life.
Then, one day, it all turned into a hellish nightmare.
Lauren's oldest daughter, 16 year old Leslie, vanished
without a trace and was never seen again. Two years later,
her husband, Lance, was driving alone on a stretch of
California mountain road and went over the side, dying
instantly. Now, it is four years after Leslie's abduction
and two years after Lance's death and Lauren is left to
search for her daughter alone and deal with the pain of her
The really bad thing is that she's positive she knows who
took her daughter. A photographer by the name of Roland
Ballencoa was seen talking to Leslie at a baseball game
shortly before Leslie disappeared. By the time this news
came out, though, it was too late for the police to prove
anything. All they found was one tiny speck of blood in
Ballencoa's white paneled van. It wasn't even big enough to
Lauren and her 15 year old daughter, Leah, move to the
community of Oak Knoll to stay in the home of some dear
friends. This is a lovely town and one that Lauren and her
daughter might be able to recover in. However, that's not to
be the case. Lauren simply cannot let go of her search to
find out what happened to Leslie. She's already alienated
the Santa Barbara Police Department due to her actions.
Now, however, that she and Leah are living in Oak Knoll she
happens to see the one man that she wants only to rot in
hell. As she's leaving the local grocery store, Roland
Ballencoa drives by in his white van. In shock, Lauren takes
off after him trying to find out where he's going. Her
erratic driving gets her stopped by Oak Knoll police
detective, Tony Mendez.
At first, Tony doesn't understand Lauren's hostile nature
and then she tells him who she is. He had actually been a
part of the search effort for Leslie in the beginning and he
feels badly that she seems to have been let down by the
judicial system. After letting her go, he vows to start
looking into Leslie's case as well as Ballencoa.
The deeper Tony digs the more disturbing things he finds out
about Ballencoa. The worst part, though, seems to be that
Lauren isn't really paranoid. Ballencoa is a true snake in
the grass and is most likely stalking Lauren again. Of
course, Lauren is aware of this and the only thing she wants
besides finding out what happened to Leslie is revenge on
the man she believes took her.
As events unfold, Lauren forges ahead foolishly in her
scheme to get back at Ballencoa but the more she moves
ahead, the more danger she's in. Only this time, it's not
only herself she's putting in danger but also her daughter
Leah. Will the help they need arrive in time to save them
from a mad man?
I've been a huge fan of Tami Hoag's for years. Her books
always keep her readers right on the edge of their
proverbial seats. The woman does know how to weave a story.
DOWN THE DARKEST ROAD is the third book in her Oak Knoll
series and doesn't disappoint. I did have some issues with
Lauren, though, and the way she seemed to have forgotten she
had another daughter. A lot of the time I wanted to shake
some sense into her. However, it's very hard to know what
you would feel if you were in the same situation as a mother
of an abducted child. Lauren's dealing with so much and I
feel that Ms. Hoag captured that pain perfectly. Don't miss
Four years after the unsolved disappearance of her sixteen-
year-old daughter, Lauren Lawton
is the only one still chasing the ghosts of her perfect
Santa Barbara life. The world has given
her daughter up for dead. Her husband ended his own life in
the aftermath. Even Lauren's
younger daughter is desperate to find what's left of the
childhood she hasn't been allowed
Lauren knows exactly who took her oldest child, but there
is not a shred of evidence against
the man. Even as he stalks her family, Lauren is powerless
to stop him. The Santa Barbara
police are handcuffed by the very laws they are sworn to
uphold. Looking for a fresh start in
a town with no memories, Lauren and her younger daughter
Leah move to idyllic Oak Knoll.
But when Lauren's suspect turns up in the same city, it
feels to all the world that history
is about to repeat itself. Leah Lawton will soon turn
sixteen, and Oak Knoll has a cunning
predator on the hunt.
Sheriff's detective Tony Mendez and his team begin to close
in on the suspected killer, desperate
to keep the young women of their picturesque town safe. But
as the investigators sift
through the murky circumstances of an increasingly
disturbing case, a stunning question
changes everything they thought they knew.