Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Dark Horse (Elena Estes, #1)” as Want to Read:
Dark Horse (Elena Estes, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Dark Horse

(Elena Estes #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  8,844 ratings  ·  369 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
Paperback, 557 pages
Published June 1st 2004 by Bantam (first published 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Dark Horse, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Dark Horse

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.81  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,844 ratings  ·  369 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, thriller
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
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2016, tami-hoag
I love mysteries. I love horses, and I love Tami Hoag's style of writing, so it's no surprise I enjoyed the first installment of her Elena Estes' series.

Interestingly, the rough-around-the-edges, obnoxious protagonist of this series who is Elena Estes (and who seems to be hated by some of the more negative reviewers) doesn't normally appeal to me, but in this case I found it hard not to like the abrasive, flawed, once-respected now hated-by-everyone ex-cop.

I also like the use of first person/th
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-
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few years ago narcotics cop Elena Estes was drummed out of the force after a rash act of heroism on her part led to a colleague losing his life. Now she's living off her very wealthy childhood friend Sean and vaguely assisting with the passel of horses he owns. (These horses are trained for equestrianism, not racing.)

One day a child, Molly Seabright, comes to Elena looking to hire her as a private detective. Molly's elder sister Erin, a teenage groom at one of the local stables, has disappeare
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
Lynn Michell
Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
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 26, 2011 rated it liked it
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,
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
May 24, 2016 rated it it was ok
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.
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
My first Tami Hoag book and I'm sure there'll be more! Dark Horse was a good, intricately involved mystery involving the kidnapping of a teen girl, a murder of a horse and and others, as well as having a good twist to it.

Molly is an adorable, precocious little 12 year old girl who solicits the help from a pretty much has-been, washed up old police detective named Elena Estes. Molly is concerned about her "missing" sister who's been gone from 3 days; however, what's odd is that the girl's mother
Beth Lechman
Aug 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Although I do enjoy reading books by Tami Hoag this one just wasn.t one of my favorites. Just seemed to me to be to much repetition of when Elena was hurt during a drug bust. That being said the further into the book I got the book did become more intriguing.
Angela Free
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
There's a fizz that runs through Tami Hoag's books. As romantic thrilling, this one wasn't quite so romantic, but it was there. I look forward to reading the next Elena Estes book to see which turn her love life takes.
Kel Outlaw
Apr 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
OMG,this book was painful.I finished it in a couple of months because it was so drawn out.Towards the end I did one 2 skip a few.
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book!! I was disappointed to learn there is only one other book with Elena Estes - she is an interesting character. I hope Tami Hoag continues this series one day.
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2009 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
Trish Jackson
Sep 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 16, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Oct 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Melinda Elizabeth
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A horse murder mystery novel is something outside my comfort zone – and there’s a lot of horse talk in this book at the start. Ex cop Elena is recuperating at her friends horse estate when she’s picked up by a tenacious 12 year old who is looking to solve her sisters disappearance.

The kids plucky attitude breaks through a few walls that Elena had built up and she takes the bait, finding herself in the middle of some shady characters in the equestrian world.

The plot was predictable, and I had i
Suzi Belanger
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it

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 Bryant
Feb 08, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Theresa Connors
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After seeing Tami Hoag's books on bestseller lists for years, I finally got around to reading one of them. Dark Horse is a suspenseful crime thriller set during the Palm Beach winter horse show circuit. Hoag is a Grand Prix level dressage rider (impressive!) so she nails every little detail of the equestrian world. The plot was intricate and kept me guessing until the end. This is the first book featuring the Elena Estes character. I couldn't put it down.
Apr 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
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.
Emily Higgins
Oct 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
Elena Estes was a narcotics investigator with the Sherrif's office when a drug bust went bad and she was badly injured. Two years later, she is still putting herself together both physically and emotionally when a 12 year old girl asks her to find her sister who has disappeared. This leads to the discovery of a conspiracy of fraud, kidnapping and murder.
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 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
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.
Mar 12, 2010 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.
Susan Beamon
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What does a disgraced narcotics undercover cop with a trust fund do when everything comes crashing down? Why even does a woman with a trust fund become a cop? She says it's to even the scales and restore the balance between good and evil. After evil won a battle, she retreated to a friend's estate and horse stables. That puts her in the path of more evil.
I lost count at the end of the crimes our intrepid unlicensed investigator uncovers and solves. She's first drawn into a kidnapping when the yo
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the story and characters. It had the usual trope of the main character suffering from some kind of physical trauma and depression (seems to be a thing with mystery books). At least in this book the author refrained from describing bowel movements, or setting up wish fullfillment sex encounters.

I love horses as well, although this certainly didn't paint a pretty picture of the culture surrounding eventing. Still, it was a good mystery with lots of possible suspects along the way, but wr
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Book in Dutch - description should be in Dutch 2 20 Jun 15, 2016 05:55AM  
I am loving Dark Horse 5 15 Mar 30, 2014 07:27PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Stone Leopard
  • Caravan of Dreams
  • Bad Twin
  • After All These Years
  • The Survivors of the Chancellor (Extraordinary Voyages, #13)
  • The Coalwood Way: A Memoir  (Coalwood, #2)
  • The Moon Pool
  • The Oath (Dismas Hardy, #8)
  • The Shape of Things to Come
  • Firestorm
  • Lancelot
  • Once a Thief (Quinn/Thief #1)
  • The Laws of Manu
  • Masterpieces of Murder: And Then There Were None / Death on the Nile / The Murder of Roger Ackroyd / Witness for the Prosecution
  • Obsession
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

Elena Estes (2 books)
  • The Alibi Man (Elena Estes, #2)
“We never know the quality of someone else's life, though we seldom resist the temptation to assume and pass judgement.” 2144 likes
“But then I had long mistaken being spoiled for being strong, being defiant for being independent, being reckless for being brave.” 28 likes
More quotes…