Review: Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag

Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Pages: 390
Source: book provided by NetGalley for review



Dana Nolan was a promising young TV reporter until a notorious serial killer tried to add her to his list of victims. Nearly a year has passed since surviving her ordeal, but the physical, emotional, and psychological scars run deep. Struggling with the torment of post-traumatic stress syndrome, plagued by flashbacks and nightmares as dark as the heart of a killer, Dana returns to her hometown in an attempt to begin to put her life back together. But home doesn’t provide the comfort she expects.

Dana’s harrowing story and her return to small town life have rekindled police and media interest in the unsolved case of her childhood best friend, Casey Grant, who disappeared without a trace the summer after their graduation from high school. Terrified of truths long-buried, Dana reluctantly begins to look back at her past. Viewed through the dark filter of PTSD, old friends and loved ones become suspects and enemies. Questioning everything she knows, refusing to be defined by the traumas of her past and struggling against excruciating odds, Dana seeks out a truth that may prove too terrible to be believed…


Review: This book begins with Dana tied up in the back of a van and killing her kidnapper. From there, the story evolves to a mystery from Dana’s past which may or may not be linked to her own kidnapping and which she feels impelled to solve.

Dana suffers from horrific injuries at the hands of her kidnapper. At one point she gets a look at herself in the mirror. Her head is caved in on one side and she has stitches like Frankenstein. She honestly thinks it’s someone else, that someone she doesn’t know is standing in front of her. She is in physical and psychological therapy for nearly a year before she gets to go home. She has trouble remembering things and blurts out the wrong words. And she gets frustrated. I imagine this is completely real – far more realistic than most books would have their main character appear – and I appreciated it.

John Villante was a secondary-main character. He has brain trauma, PTSD and anger issues. While we got some of his background and his point of view, I felt there wasn’t enough. There was quite a bit about his teenage years and the struggle of growing up with an angry, abusive and drunken father but I would have liked to know more about his brain injury. We know it happened during an IED explosion in Afghanistan and we see the effects in his anger and depression but we don’t really learn much about what he went through or what he felt.

This wasn’t a mystery with clues peppered throughout the entire book but I was kept guessing at who the person behind Casey Grant’s disappearance was. It could have been John, who was Casey’s boyfriend. Or it could have been John’s father, a chronic alcoholic with his own anger issues. It could have been Roger Mercer, Dana’s step-father, or Tim Carver, Dana’s high school boyfriend and now a local Sheriff’s Deputy. There are more than a few suspects, including Doc Holiday, the man who abducted Dana.

I liked the way this story flowed from the back of one kidnapper’s van to the back of another kidnapper’s car. The series of events that led to the ending all seemed plausible and realistic. The characters were very believable and could be your neighbors. The tension of ‘who did it?’ and ‘what’s going to happen next?’ kept me turning the pages long after I should have put the book down for the night.