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Dark Horse (Elena Estes #1)

3.79  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,301 Ratings  ·  289 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
Dominique (Dom)
Didn't like this book at all. The suspense just fell flat. The characters were boring. The plotline looked interesting but it wasn't a thrilling, can't sleep because I need to know what happens story. It felt one note all through the book. The relationship between Elena and Landry was plain boring. Very disappointing novel.
Trish Jackson
Sep 18, 2014 Trish Jackson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 01, 2014 Shanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
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
Nov 16, 2008 Crystal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, suspense
"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
Aug 09, 2009 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 05, 2011 Annika rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2014 Suzi Belanger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Feb 08, 2010 Sherri Hunter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
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
Apr 07, 2016 BJHopkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quick, engaging read that didn't require a lot of brain power. Perfect!
Apr 08, 2014 Samyann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 22, 2015 Karolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tami-hoag
n a trailer in a Florida swamp, time is running out for eighteen year-old Erin Seabright. A pawn in a kidnapper's terrifying game for a ransom no one can pay, her last hope is a washed-up ex-cop who has already lost it all-not once, but twice.

The wealthy world of the Palm Beach horse set seems a long way from a cop's world in the narcotics division. A lifetime ago, undercover sheriff's detective Elena Estes worked the mean streets and BackTop alleys, living by her wits and playing the long odds
Apr 03, 2014 cd rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Considering the great reviews, I anticipated a good, solid, easy-reading mystery. The horse theme was a bonus. I was very disappointed. Canned story with corny phrases… Reminded me of some books in the middle of a series, when it is apparent the author did a cut and paste from their previous work.

Usually that doesn’t happen in Book 1.
Jen Lynn
Apr 28, 2015 Jen Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2015-reviewed
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
Jun 12, 2016 J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remember, one man's bookflap summary may be another man's spoiler.

This is one of my favorite Hoag titles. That's probably because Hoag is writing about horses and competitive equestrians, which is a personal pastime into which she invests a lot of herself.

The characters have unique profiles: a female trust baby, adopted, who has bombed as a cop (this is the protagonist) but knows and love horses; a 12-year-old girl who's got more conscience and sense of responsibility than the adults in her hous
Bev Taylor
Feb 27, 2015 Bev Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

Jan 10, 2014 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Barbara M
In the intro, Tami Hoag reveals that this (horses, esp dressage) is the other half of her life. It is obvious that she tells this story from the inside of the horse world. I've enjoyed a couple of Hoag's books but not as much as I did this one.

Hoag explains that there are good and bad people in the horse world and that she is telling a story showing mostly the bad. It is intriguing, suspenseful and keeps the reader involved. It isn't impossible to figure the mystery out but the story is more th
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.)
Nov 17, 2014 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 27, 2010 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
#1 in the Elena Estes series.

Elena Estes series - 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
Jamie Ander
Feb 18, 2016 Jamie Ander rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was quite a read but of course it was Tami's so that was to be expected. I really enjoyed her characters, Elena was quite a fiery character and quite interesting to follow her thought processes. The other characters were quite intriguing too, Landry and the other detectives and the suspicious characters were aplenty that was for sure. I was surprised in the end though I suspected certain people, Tami yet again worked her magic and gave one of the best twists she's known for even if it ...more
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
Feb 19, 2015 Deborah Robb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Goodreads Librari...: Book in Dutch - description should be in Dutch 2 18 Jun 15, 2016 05:55AM  
I am loving Dark Horse 5 13 Mar 30, 2014 07:27PM  
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Tami Hoag is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than thirty books published in more than thirty languages worldwide, including her latest thrillers—BITTER SEASON, COLD COLD HEART and THE 9TH GIRL. Renowned for combining thrilling plots with character-driven suspense, Hoag first hit the New York Times Bestseller list with NIGHT SINS, and each of her books since has been a bestseller. ...more
More about Tami Hoag...

Other Books in the Series

Elena Estes (2 books)
  • The Alibi Man (Elena Estes, #2)

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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.” 2133 likes
“But then I had long mistaken being spoiled for being strong, being defiant for being independent, being reckless for being brave.” 25 likes
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