Down the Darkest Road

BOOK: Down the Darkest Road
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Table of Contents
Also by Tami Hoag
Secrets to the Grave
Deeper Than the Dead
The Alibi Man
Prior Bad Acts
Kill the Messenger
Dark Horse
Dust to Dust
Ashes to Ashes
A Thin Dark Line
Guilty as Sin
Night Sins
Dark Paradise
Cry Wolf
Still Waters
Lucky’s Lady
Sarah’s Sin
Published by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.); Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England; Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd); Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd); Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi–110 017, India; Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd); Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Published by Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First printing, January 2012
Copyright © 2012 by Indelible Ink, Inc.
All rights reserved
Hoag, Tami.
Down the darkest road /Tami Hoag.
p. cm.
ISBN : 978-1-101-55362-6
1. Abduction—Fiction. 2. Missing persons—Fiction. 3. Children—Crimes against—Fiction. 4. Santa
Barbara (Calif.)—Fiction. I. Title.
PS3558.O333D69 2012
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

To the survivors.
Resources to help or support victims and survivors of crime:
The National Center for Victims of Crime
National Organization of Parents Of Murdered Children
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
In 1990 George H. W. Bush was president of the United States. That year was considered the last of the Cold War era and the year of the first Gulf War. East and West Germany had yet to reunite.
Driving Miss Daisy
won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
In 1990 the World Wide Web was still two years away. Widespread public access to e-mail was still a thing of the future. Tweeting was something that came from birds. Facebook cocreator Mark Zuckerberg was barely out of kindergarten. Cell phones were still considered more novelty than necessity.
In the area of forensic science, DNA analysis was becoming more sophisticated but was still light-years behind the technology available to us today. Today, minuscule samples of genetic material can yield the DNA profile of a perpetrator or a victim due to our ability to amplify samples in the lab. In 1990, testing a small sample meant running the risk of the destruction of the sample without guarantee of results.
In 1990 the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP), originally created to gather data on transient serial killers who crossed jurisdictional lines, had just begun to expand its scope to include kidnappings and sexual assaults, but was still accessible at that time only to FBI personnel. ViCAP is now available to all law enforcement agencies across the country, making the process of connecting the dots between the crimes of serial offenders much faster.
When I sat down to write
Deeper Than the Dead
several years ago, I had no real intention of writing an ongoing series that would follow the advances in modern technology and forensic sciences from 1985 on. Queen of the Short Attention Span, I’m usually ready to move on from characters by the time I finish a project. As for technology, I can barely set the DVR. Yet
Down the Darkest Road
is number three for the characters of Oak Knoll, California. They’ve become old friends to me. Old friends I want to continue to visit—at least until they have cell phones and can “friend” me on Facebook.
Once upon a time I had the perfect family. I had the perfect husband: handsome, loving, successful. I had the perfect children: Leslie and Leah—beautiful, brilliant, precious girls. I had the perfect life in the perfect home, in the perfect place. We were one of those sickeningly perfect families with matching monograms. The Lawtons: Lance, Lauren, Leslie, and Leah. The Lawtons of Santa Barbara, California.
And then, as in all fairy tales, evil came into our lives and destroyed us.
I remember when Leslie was small and loved to have us read to her. Fairy tales were the obvious choice. Our parents had read fairy tales to us when we were children. I remembered the books as being filled with beautiful pictures and happy endings. But fairy tales aren’t happy stories. Only from a distance are they beautiful. In reality they are dark tales of abuse, neglect, violence, and murder.
BOOK: Down the Darkest Road
3.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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