Prior Bad Acts, a treat for suspense lovers
Remember all those dumb things you did as a kid? Chances are, there are a few of them that you're not proud of. Most people would agree that their youthful indiscretions are best left in the past. So wouldn't you hate to be judged by those things...
Remember all those dumb things you did as a kid?
Chances are, there are a few of them that you're not proud of. Most people would agree that their youthful indiscretions are best left in the past.
So wouldn't you hate to be judged by those things you did years ago?
In the new novel Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag, a man's old crimes are deemed inadmissible in court, but his past causes trouble in the present.
The murders made the headlines in Minneapolis for weeks. Marilyn Haas and her two foster children were tortured and killed in a horrific way, their bodies left in unspeakable conditions.
Neighbors and bystanders told police that they had seen drifter Karl Dahl near the Haas home. Dahl was found with one of Haas' necklaces in his possession and his fingerprints were all over the house. Quickly, Dahl was arrested and charged with the three homicides.
Now his day in court has come. It's time for his trial.
Nearly everyone in Minnesota "knows" that Dahl is guilty, and some are calling for a reinstatement of the death penalty on his behalf. So when Judge Carey Moore decrees that Dahl's prior petty crimes are inadmissible in court, a great howl of protest rises up from the Twin Cities.
But that's not all that happens when Judge Moore makes her decision. On her way home after meeting with the defense and the prosecution, Judge Moore is assaulted and beaten by someone who was obviously furious about the ruling. At the same time, there's a riot in the Hennepin County jail and, in the confusion, Karl Dahl escapes.
Terrified but trying not to show it, Carey Moore huddles in her lavish Minneapolis home with her daughter, protected by police and under the watchful care of Detective Sam Kovac. Kovac and his partner Nikki Liska have taken on the case, and they need to find the man who attacked Carey.
Could it be Carey's husband, David Moore, who appears to be having an affair? Is it someone who wants to send a message to Karl Dahl? Or has renegade detective Stan Dempsey gone off the deep end?
Don't look at me. I'm not telling.
If you pick up this book, don't judge it by its first chapter. Prior Bad Acts starts out very gruesomely, with a detailed description of a terrible murder as witnessed by someone who stumbles upon it.
But who is that someone?
The answer is only one of the many layers that author Tami Hoag sets in this grab-you-by-the-imagination thriller. I spent much of this book hating the wrong "perpetrator" and lending sympathy to the wrong character, such is Hoag's mastery at suspense writing. For regular thriller readers, the killer may not come as much of a surprise, but everything that happens before he's caught will keep you up all night, reading.
Fans of suspense novels and thriller-mysteries will definitely want to read this book. If you love a good crime, to miss Prior Bad Acts would just be... bad.
(Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of the Detroit Lakes Newspapers book review column, "The Bookworm Sez." Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old, and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives in West Salem, Wis., with her husband, three dogs, and 9,000 books.)