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Dark Horse (Elena Estes #1)

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  6,698 ratings  ·  258 reviews
In her latest thriller, New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag takes readers on a suspense-filled ride of shocks and twists leading to an explosive finish. It is the story of an ex-cop, a missing girl, and a killer locked in a race where there can be only one winner--and the losers die trying.

In a trailer in a Florida swamp, time is running out for eighteen year-old
Audio Cassette, 0 pages
Published August 27th 2002 by Random House Audio (first published 2002)
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Bark's Book Nonsense
2.5 Stars

This is a thriller that, for me at least, wasn’t very thrilling. It involves a missing young woman, some lovely horses, some not at all pleasant animal and human cruelty and a slew of assholish suspects, all of whom are decidedly up to no good. That part of the plot was pretty lackluster. I guess I’ve become accustomed to more thrills in my thrillers and a little emotion – even if it is rage – but this one just left me feeling dead inside.

I guess my main problem was with the main charac
Susan (the other Susan)
Elena Estes is a fabulous character, I would friend her on Facebook but she'd never go on Facebook, and if she did and we were besties, the Russian mob would come after me with dental drills, so it's probably for the best.

Her Elena Estes stories are, I think, the best thing Tami Hoag has ever written. What a transformation from old-school contemporary bodice-rippers to compelling thrillers.

I'm fascinated by the seedy world Elena inhabits in glitzy Palm Beach, and the snark-fest anonymous tell-
Hoag, Tami
Elena Estes is a former cop whose bravado on the force resulted in a colleague's death; it also cost her her job and her self-esteem, not to mention the psychological and physical fallout from nearly being shot. She's been keeping a low profile at a friend's Florida ranch, but her world is disrupted when 12-year-old Molly Seabright, wise beyond her years, attempts to hire Elena to find her older sister, Erin, who has been missing for two days. As Elena digs deeper into Eri
This book was kind of boring, I would really rate it a 2 and a half.
The basic plot line involves a missing teenager who works in the horse stables. Because of the evidence, she is presumed kidnapped and held for ransom. While that is going on another girl is killed in the stables. There are also possible shady deals, other murders alluded to, and a dead horse.
The PI, who is not a PI, who is "hired" to investigate is an x-cop with bad memories. She is tough but the conversations always sounded
Trish Jackson
This is the first in the Elena Estes series and I haven't read any others in which she is the primary character.

Set in the wealthy horse region of Palm Beach, Florida, former cop Elena is staying in her friend Sean's guest cottage while she recovers in self-imposed exile as she struggles emotionally from a near death experience and multiple subsequent surgeries.

Molly, a twelve year old girl approaches her and offers to pay her to find her unofficially missing eighteen-year-old sister, who was w
A suspense-filled ride, Dark Horse leaves you guessing until the shocking ending. Tami Hoag does it again with ex cop Elena Estes who thought her career was over after a bad judgment call followed by tragedy. While she is just trying to lie low and save any shred of dignity she has left, she finds herself unexpectedly in the middle of solving a missing persons case. She begins working with Detective Landry who is the only one willing to listen to her. The clock is ticking, can they solve the mys ...more
"Dark Horse" centers on Elena, a ex-cop kicked off the force after a drug bust goes bad. The story begins 2 years after the bust, when Elena has become a bit of a recluse and is hiding out in the guesthouse of an old friend and is confronted by a young girl who believes that Elena is a private investigator who can help find her sister. While it starts off at a gallop, the plot tends to do little more than plod along after the first few chapters. While the final "whodunnit" was a surprise, it was ...more
Lynn Michell
OK, so this is how an author produces a book a year. I’m learning.

Having just finished Cry Wolf, I had a sense of deja vu from the beginning. Oh here comes the same heroine. In Cry Wolf, ex-lawyer Laurel has messed up a court case, lost an important case and caused terrible grief to abused children whose case was thrown out. Leaving her job, she comes home to the Bayou to nurse her wounds and heal her troubled conscience. In Dark Horse, Estes has messed up an important police raid, got a fellow
My first Tami Hoag, but surely not my last. Elena Estes is a ex cop who made a mistake that got a fellow cop killed and when she tried to stop the shooter she was dragged under his truck. She has spent two years in and our of surgery and while back together physically she has a way to go mentally. She is working on a horse farm in Florida where she is the quest of the wealthy owner. These are the sort of farms owned by the super wealthy and cater to jumpers, show and dressage horses. Elena is wo ...more
Dark, creepy murder mystery set among horse showmanship and horse sports. I know next to nothing about that setting, but Tami Hoag takes care of that for those readers in the dark.

I read the second Elena Estes book, "Alibi Man" a couple of years ago and I remember liking that one, too. I don't think these books need to be read in order. You'll get a sinister murder mystery either way.

Elena Estes is a depressed, borderline suicidal ex-cop who moves into the guest house on the property of a rich,
Suzi Belanger

Tamil Hoag is a phenomenal writer who has the ability write incredibly complex stores with advanced plot line and multiple points of view. I was enthralled and captivated from the first page of this story. Elena, a disgraced ex-cop, is trying to find some semblance of peace after one of her fellow officers falls in the line of duty as a direct result of her actions. Working with horses is helping Elena put her life back together, but it soon leaves her embroiled in a kidnapping mystery that exp
Sherri Hunter
While reading this book, I couldn't seem to shake the feeling that I had already read this book. The sense of deja vu was really strong but I couldn't remember any of the specifics of the storyline. This wasn't one of Tami Hoag's better stories compared to some of her others that I found to be much more intense. I still have the feeling I already read this before and though the ending really didn't surprise me that much due to the predictability, I thought the ending was going to go in a differe ...more
Booklist Review
Welcome to the dark psyche of Elena Estes, a woman who had everything that society has to offer but gave it away to become a cop, and now even that life is lost. She made a mistake during a drug bust, an officer died, and she was badly hurt. Now she's a pariah in the Palm Beach sheriff's office. She retreats to the farm of an old friend, and returns to her childhood love of horse, while she recovers physically if not emotionally. Twelve-year-old Molly Seabright brings Elena back t
Audiobook. Dark Horse is read by Beth McDonald, and she does a great job. There are multiple point of view shifts and she handles the switch from male to female in such a manner that the listener keeps up. The current mantra that authors must select a specific point of view and stick with it at all costs is, well, to be blunt: bull. How this fallacy got started is beyond me. Successful authors like Tami Hoag and many others (hello, Stephen King), take all the so called writing rules and stir the ...more
Jen Lynn
Considering I read this a few long months ago and I still remember most things about it, I'd say it was a pretty good book. Usually I read books and promptly forget details as I get wrapped up in the next book. What I do remember is that I read this book in no time at all. And I was near the end of my pregnancy at the time, with a million other things to do, yet I still found the time to read this in less than a week. Tami Hoag usually keeps my attention throughout her books and this one is no e ...more
Bev Taylor
a world where everything has it's price - even a human life

elena was a narcotics cop. h/e she liked to follow her own instincts which was not a good idea when teamwork counted

one drug heist went wrong and a fellow cop was sot dead and she was in hospital for 2 years recovering

now she is licking her wounds staying with a friend and helping him train his horses - and keeping herself to herself

that all changes when a young girl of 12 asks for her help in finding her sister who has disappeared

First in the Elena Estes series. Elena is a former cop who quit in disgrace trying to find her way out of a deep hole. When she is approached by a 12 year old girl to help find her sister she finds purpose. The somewhat shady world of horses owners and trainers is the backdrop.
Elizabeth Hesseltine
It took me awhile to settle in to all the "horse talk." The twists and turns kept me guessing until the end. That's when I said to myself "Seriously?" It was a bit graphic, but I've read worse (Stephen King.)
An ex-cop with a dark history and not well received. A little girl with hopes for a loved one to be returned when the cops don't believe she is missing. It all comes back to the horses or does it? All the players have one agenda, their own; but when things get out of hand and the chore gets muddled it leads then down a road in which there may be no return. Bring in the dark horse in a world she knows only to well and you have a race against time, only to discover the deceit, murder and a killer ...more
The characters were all annoying, the plot was slow to move anywhere coherent, and the ending was horribly disappointing. However, it was certainly pretty entertaining at points, so it gets a 3 out of 5.
Πάνος Τουρλής
Καταπληκτικό. Απίστευτη τοιχογραφία ενός χώρου άγνωστου στο ευρύ κοινό (ιπποφορβεία και ιππικοί αγώνες), ένας κακός που αποκαλύπτεται στο τέλος (αλλά δεν είναι μόνος του), σκιαγράφηση χαρακτήρων ολοζώντανη (πόσο λυπήθηκα την καημένη, άσχημη, χοντρή δευτεραγωνίστρια που ζήλευε τις ωραίες και πλούσιες). Πολύ καλό Μπελ. Και η πρωταγωνίστρια μέσα από την περιπέτειά της αυτή αλλάζει και σα χαρακτήρας και σαν προσωπικότητα στο πιο αισιόδοξο. Τρελάθηκα με την κατάληξη της μητέρας των δύο κοριτσιών. Πόσ ...more
Deborah Robb
Pretty good book. Nice twist at the end. Elena Estes is an ex-cop trying to come to grips with the end of her career as a cop. Molly Seabright comes to her asking her help in finding her missing sister. Nobody seems to be concerned that Erin Seabright is missing until Elena starts snooping around. The story is that Erin left her job at the Palm Beach Equestrian Center in Palm Beach and move to Ocala. But once Elena starts digging into what is going on at the Equestrian Center, it looks like Erin ...more
Marty Wilde
The story moved s-l-o-w-l-y and altho an interesting plot most of the characters were annoying.. except the 2 main characters.A few times I had left the book and when i picked it up again I thought maybe I was in the wrong place... it didnt seem to matter! haha "the final twist" was not a shocker, just an "oh okay" and part of it i had figured out about 1/2 way thru the book and continued to see if i was right.(i was) I have read other reviews and would give the author another try... but only on ...more
Andrea Corley
This was my first read by Tami Hoag, and I must say that I wasn't disappointed, so I certainly will pick up more by her in the future. This was book 1 in the Elena Estes series, and I absolutely will (at some time) seek out book 2 to read!

The narrator does an excellent job of not only bringing the characters to life, but also distinguishing the characters throughout the book. There were quite a few characters to keep up with, but I thought that Beth McDonald did a great job of helping me distin
Barbara ★
Though this book revolves around an industry that I know nothing about, I rather enjoyed it. The horse training business is very cut-throat and peopled by snobby greedy rich people. Who knew that they actually killed horses for the insurance money. I would have thought that horses were the life blood of this industry and sacred - like cows in India. I guess greed works through all walks of life.

Elena Estes is sucked into being a PI by a twelve year old girl, Molly, searching for her missing 18 y
I really wavered between three and four stars, to be honest. . . I like Tami Hoag, but this book was way waaaaayyyyy too long. She could have told the same story much more effectively in about half to two thirds the length. The ending was excellent, and tied everything together--for good or bad--so there are no loose ends, and that was satisfying, but I just felt grateful to finally get there.

The other nagging issue for me is sort of stupid, because it was a serious book, but I just could not sh
Jessica Aspen
Tami Hoag's Dark Horse is a dark read. I was caught up from the beginning in the story of a former cop who is haunted by her past, and I loved the setting of the Florida horse world. I've known a few horse people, but the Colorado horse scene is nothing like the one Tami portrays in her book. Super rich and layered with deep pitfalls it's as intriguing as her murder plot.

As intriguing as I found the plot and the setting I found myself getting tired with the constant flashbacks that seem to fill
Scott  Breslove
Warning: possible spoilers peppered throughout

So, overall I thought this was a mediocre book, saddled with a subpar ending. Firstly, I noticed more than a few editing errors, and those kinds of things really get to me. For a few examples, I remember Estes grabbing "a scissors", and another time, she woke up at four thirty, did something at four, and then something else at four thirty, hard to do unless you are a sleep-worker.
I did find the action somewhat compelling, but I figured the end would
I read the sequel to this book, 'Alibi Man', and found the Elena Estes character appealing, so I purchased this first book in what is a two-book series.

Tami Hoag does a great job of describing the Palm Beach money/horsey scene. This is probably the best Palm Beach backgrounding I have read since the Archie McNally series by Lawrence Sanders. Dialog is realistic and often witty. The story line is generally a quick read, with the ending handled well.

My complaint with 'Alibi Man' is even more evide
I haven't read a Tami Hoag novel for a while and I thought this one was a pretty good read. However it was set in the international horse world in Florida - a subject I don't know a lot about and don't have a lot of interest in. The main character Elena Estes is an ex cop. She left the force when a drugs rain went horribly wrong, a colleague died and she suffered terrible injuries. Hiding up at a friend's ranch, she is slowly pulling herself together. Then a 12 year old girl turns up and asks El ...more
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I am loving Dark Horse 5 11 Mar 30, 2014 07:27PM  
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#1 New York Times bestselling author Tami Hoag began her professional career writing for Bantam’s Loveswept line of romance novels. In 1988 her first novel, The Trouble With J.J. was published.

With fifteen consecutive New York Times bestsellers to her credit, Hoag has more than 35 million books in print, published in more than twenty languages worldwide. Her first thriller, Night Sins, was made i
More about Tami Hoag...

Other Books in the Series

Elena Estes (2 books)
  • The Alibi Man (Elena Estes, #2)
Ashes to Ashes (Kovac/Liska, #1) Secrets to the Grave (Oak Knoll, #2) Deeper Than the Dead (Oak Knoll, #1) Guilty as Sin  (Deer Lake, #2) Prior Bad Acts (Kovac/Liska, #3)

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“We never know the quality of someone else's life, though we seldom resist the temptation to assume and pass judgement.” 70 likes
“But then I had long mistaken being spoiled for being strong, being defiant for being independent, being reckless for being brave.” 16 likes
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