Dark Horse
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Dark Horse (Elena Estes #1)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  5,448 ratings  ·  215 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...more
Kindle Edition, 512 pages
Published (first published 2002)
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LJ
DARK HORSE-Ex
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...more
Crystal
"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...more
Bob
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
Annika
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,...more
Sharal 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
Samyann
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
Susan
Her Elena Estes stories are, I think, the best thing Tami Hoag has ever written. What a compelling character, and what a splendidly seedy world she inhabits in glitzy Palm Beach. PLEASE, Ms. Hoag, write a third in this series. I want a fulfilling life, and dare I say it, a happily-ever-after for Elena and her on-again/off- again lover. They've earned it, haven't they?
Sheila
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.
Alex
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.
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...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...more
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...more
Sue
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...more
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...more
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...more
Paul
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...more
Chana
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...more
Aileen
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
Laurel
This is the second Tami Hoag book I've read. Dark Horse is set within South Florida's horse showjumping community. Although I'm seriously allergic to horses, and have no knowledge of showjumping or dressage, other than the experience gleaned from watching the Summer Olympics,it kept my interest. The main character is a plucky female investigator named Elenea Estes. A former narcotics cop,she left the force under very negative circumstances. Solving this case provides her with an opportunity to e...more
Randi
A dressage rider/competitor and horse person myself (just like author Hoag), I like to help support her purchases of top-class international competition horses, so I buy her books. (The woman rides as well as she writes!) Naturally then, I would be drawn to Elena Estes and this book, which I liked overall, as its gritty style and sharp mystery is attention-getting and makes for a riveting read.

That said, I fear Ms. Hoag may have cast a bit too dark of a shadow over the cutthroat world of equestr...more
cd
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.
Nancy
A little long and drawn out for my taste. Just when you thought it would end something else stopped progress. Set in the horsey environment of Florida. A young girl comes to a disgraced police officer when her older sister goes missing. Elena decides to help her and becomes mixed up in a plot that has more twists turns and misdirects than anything else I have read lately. You have the horse folks who will seem to do anything for money including "getting rid" of horses that don't quite make the m...more
Kara Ripley
This was kinda cheesy and silly but I still enjoyed it.

I don't really understand the whole horse thing. I don't really like horses too much. So the fact that some people's livelihood rests on horses seems strange to me.

The reason I pick up this (audio)book is that I see people reading Tami Hoag and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I did get attached to Elena. I like her want want her to do well, but I didn't really see reading a whole series (even though there are only 2 books in th...more
Lauren
I found Dark Horse to be a very entertaining read. Who would have guessed that the horse world was so full of backstabbing, jealousy and murder??? 500 pages be damned - this book was so hard to put down!

Definitely one of her better mysteries. The story flows together nicely, with lots of twists and turns - this was a page turner for sure!

The story was interesting & engaging with enough suspense to keep you guessing as to who the bad guy really is - although I started to suspect the outcome a...more
Amanda
Another book I just found in my bookcase. I swear my bookcases are like my own secret bookstore.

Good little mystery set in the horse world. Who knew that world was so backstabbing, strife with jealousy and murder? It is in Hoag's version (and perhaps the real one). Elena Estes is a cop who was severely injured on the job. Her actions cost the life of another cop and she has since retreated into misery and suicidal thoughts. While staying with a friend and taking care of his horses, Estes is appr...more
Dorsi
The thing I like best about Tami Hoag is her ability to develop characters. Elena Estes is one of my favorite female characters to date. This is a fantastic thriller/mystery set in the horse world. There are 2 books in this series and once again I read them out of sequence. I certainly hope Tami Hoag carries on with Elena's character. I also absolutely love her gay best friend Shawn. He is a riot. I hope I am spelling their names correctly as I did this one audio style. It was read by Beth McDon...more
Miranda
I actually read this book several years ago, but I couldn't remember anything about it. It was kind of long and there were a lot of dead ends and red herrings to throw off the reader. But it kept me guessing until the end, and like I said – I had already read it. It's not my favorite from Hoag, but all of her thrillers are good.
Sarah
I've read all of Dick Francis's books because they combine two of my favorite things to read about--horses and mysteries. Somewhere I saw a review of this series about Private Investigator Elena Estes and I thought I would give it a listen.

Estes is a former cop who isn't an official P.I.--she now works for a wealthy horse owner. But when a twelve-year-old wants Estes to help find her missing step-sister, Estes can't help but get involved. Soon she is meeting a sexy police detective (of course),...more
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I am loving Dark Horse 5 8 Mar 30, 2014 07:27PM  
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Tami Hoag is the #1 international bestselling author of thirty books. 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. She lives in Southern California and Florida.
More about Tami Hoag...
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.” 64 likes
“But then I had long mistaken being spoiled for being strong, being defiant for being independent, being reckless for being brave.” 15 likes
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