With Cold Cold Heart, Tami Hoag delivers a novel that captures your attention and seeps into your soul. When Dana Nolan is kidnapped by a serial killer, she must kill him in order to survive. But the horrific ordeal leaves her with many scars.

Dutton

Hoag shows us what it takes for someone to recreate her life after a traumatic event. The author develops Dana's personality, thoughts and feelings in such a way the reader immediately identifies with her. Yet as the novel unfolds, the reader is drawn into the lives of Dana; John, a friend from high school; and Dana's mother, Lynda.

How does one accept the outcome of an attack as well as the residual effects of post traumatic stress disorder? Is it possible to cope with the unsolved disappearance of your best friend? These are questions Dana must answer after she arrives home and has a chance to recover.

One of the things I love best about this book is that Hoag presents every character with a back story in which trauma is the common denominator. John, Dana's high school friend, suffers from a traumatic brain injury as a casualty of war. Readers will see his struggles and will undoubtedly find themselves cheering him on at every turn.

At points in this novel, readers may feel that life isn't just or fair for Hoag's characters. But I loved a passage found on page two that states, "Where there is life, there is hope." Dana and John begin to see themselves as works in progress that must overcome the situations thrown their way. The trick, however, is that they must decide to be present to fight their way out of despair in order to join the living.

As Dana Nolan says," The world made me a victim. I won't be what the world made me. I won't be what happened to me. I'll be what I become. So will you. Life can try to break us. We don't have to stay broken. And if we help each other with that, that isn't charity. That's humanity. That's friendship." (384)

Cold Cold Heart is a novel about survival and the triumph of the human spirit. It is perhaps Tami Hoag's most important and personal work to date. Don't miss it!

COLD COLD HEART
By Tami Hoag
368 pp. Dutton. $27.95.