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Dark Horse (Elena Estes #1)
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Dark Horse (Elena Estes #1)

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  5,697 ratings  ·  226 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 E...more
Paperback, 557 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Bantam (first published 2002)
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8th out of 19 books — 39 voters
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6th out of 12 books — 32 voters


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Community Reviews

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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
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...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
Kris
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...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
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
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
Kris
3 STARS

"Elena Estes's stubborn risk taking has cost her dearly: her job, her confidence, her career in the Miami PD and, most importantly, the life of a fellow cop. Now in retreat in Florida with only the soothing presence of horses for company, Elena begins to find some peace. But then a visitor comes calling. Twelve year old Molly Seabright believes something terrible has happened to her older stepsister. Erin, eighteen and trouble, is a groom at the Wellington show grounds but hasn't been see...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
Jul 29, 2011 Nancy added it
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
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I am loving Dark Horse 5 8 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
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.” 65 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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