The 9th Girl
by Tami Hoag
Click Here to Download the Book On a bitterly cold Minneapolis New Year's Eve a youthful lady's brutalized body falls from the rear of a vehicle into the path of onrushing vehicles. Uncertainty as to if she was living or deceased at the time she landed on the icebound road give rise to her grim moniker, Zombie Doe. Unidentified and unrecognizable, she is now the 9th unidentified female casualty of the year, and murder investigators Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska are put in charge of the mission of not only discovering who Zombie Doe is, but which people in her life loathed her enough to kill her. Was it personal, or could it just have happened to be a crime of opportunity? The investigators greatest trepidation is that not only is she their ninth Jane Doe of that year, but also that she could be the 9th mark of a savage transient serial killer they have come to call Doc Holiday.
Reviews The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag is the fourth book in the Kovac and Liska series and it starts off with a bang. It's New Year's Eve and a limo driver is escorting a group of young men and women around town. The party in the back of the limo is getting a little wild and frisky and the driver is more interested in the happenings in the back of the limo until a car hits a pothole and a body pops up out of the trunk falling into the street in front of the limo. Detectives Sam "Kojak" Kovac and Nikki "Tinks" Liska are called to the gruesome scene. Is this young lady a victim of the serial killer they've been tracking or something far worse? Over the course of a week, detectives Kovac, Liska and their team must try to identify someone without a face and very few remaining teeth. Their only hope is a small tattoo on the girl's back. Since this body was so publicly revealed and has been sensationalized, it makes their case just a little harder rather than easier. The only recourse is to track missing persons that fit the profile and this leads a little too close to home for Nikki, as the girl may be a friend of her eldest son. If that wasn't bad enough, her son has been getting into fights, something completely unlike him, and he refuses to confide in her. Nikki's at her wits ends trying to unravel the mystery of her extremely quiet and introverted son and his problems and this case. To make matters worse it appears that the missing girl isn't liked by too many people at her school or by her parents, and the only person truly missing her is Nikki's son. I found The 9th Girl to be a fascinating read into family dynamics, bullying, abuse and serial killers. Each book in this series provides slightly more insight into the personal lives of detectives Kovac and Liska. This book incorporated the use of social media and online journalism in an effort to discover the identity of the deceased. The incorporation of a pseudo anti-bullying campaign through the use of a tattoo promoting acceptance and the international anti-bullying campaign spearheaded by mixed martial artist Georges St. Pierre gave the story a nice little twist. The 9th Girl features truly bad guys (a serial killer), negligent and absentee parents, bullies, school cliques (featuring mean girls and male bullies), ignorant and ineffective school administrators, and more. If you enjoy a good multilayered mystery-suspense read, then you should definitely add The 9th Girl to your reading list.
Pretty good ending and I was satisfied with the way Hoag built the suspense. However, it didn't really pick up until at least halfway into the book, which was too slow for my tastes.
I was a bit bored by the first half. The concept wasn't interesting enough for me. The victim, who was murdered in a way that made her resemble a "zombie", is pretty much what the first half of the book rides on. While it certainly wasn't a cut-and-dry murder, it didn't offer anything else that drew me into the story. It was like I was supposed to be intrigued based solely on zombies being mentioned in the book, riding the coattails of recent movies and TV series based on them. The murder and murderer don't really get much more interesting throughout. The intrigue halfway through and onward comes from the placement of characters, where everyone stands in relation to the victim. All in all, it wasn't my favourite Tami Hoag novel as it didn't excite or interest me from the beginning unlike her previous books, but the story's conclusion sort of makes up for it. Sort of.
Hmmmm....I've read some Tami Hoag novels before and liked them. She writes some compelling stories of mystery and suspense, and her leading characters are almost always interesting, sympathetic, and engaging. This story was no exception--the chemistry between the two officers trying to solve the murder of the "9th girl" was strong but sweet, their cop skills excellent. Nikki, a divorced mom of two teen age boys, and Sam, a divorced and veteran of homicide, would be good protagonists for a new series. The disappointment in this book for me was the woeful under-development of the baddies...and there were several of them. The serial killer guy was suitably sick and evil, but there was no depth or "reason" for his depravity. There was a twist to the solution at the end that was pretty lame, but could have been powerful if there had been just a bit more done in the plot and character development. Still, a decent summer read.
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