Review of In a Dark, Dark Wood

  • In a Dark, Dark WoodAuthor: Ruth Ware
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  • Version: Paperback (309 pages)
  • Publisher: Scout Press
  • Source: Purchased
  • Read: July 16-17th.
  • 3 1/2 stars

Synopsis:

Nora Shaw a 26 year old mystery writer living a quiet, isolated life in London is unexpectedly invited to a Hen weekend for a childhood friend, Clare. It’s unexpected because their friendship ended badly and they have not seen each other in ten years. The party is held at an isolated house deep in the English countryside on a cold, gray, and snowy November. Most of the attendees aren’t acquainted with Nora, except for Nina who was a friend of Nora’s ten years ago. The hostess is Clare’s college friend Flo. Flo is scarily fixated on Clare having a perfect Hen’s party. But Clare has secrets that will disrupt the weekend and lead to a shocking conclusion to this story.

My Thoughts:

I liked this story quite a lot. It’s pacing is spot on and the characters are interesting. And the plot of this thriller is well thought-out and, forgive the pun, well executed. It hits all the story beats for a thriller/mystery. But those same plot points make it clear pretty early on who the killer will be in spite of some good red herrings. And that’s why I gave this 3 1/2 stars rather than 4 stars; it’s just a bit too predictable. But not in a bad way, if that makes any sense. I still wanted to find out the answers for certain, and so I couldn’t put the book down.

I really liked the main character Nora, AKA Lee, AKA Leo (who is she, exactly?). She is a young mystery writer so it is easy for me to forgive some of her flaws. After all she is young. And I like that that she is a mystery writer as well. She slyly reminds us again and again that writers can be, well, untrustworthy. And that writers will do this all in service to the story.

The brain doesn’t remember  well. It tells stories. It fills in the gaps, and implants those fantasies as memories…..But I don’t know if I’m remembering what happened–or what I want to have happened. I’m a writer. I’m a professional liar. It’s hard to know when to stop, you know? You see a gap in the narrative, you want to fill it with a reason, a motive, a plausible explanation. And the harder I push, the more the facts dissolve beneath my fingers…  page 171 0f In a Dark, Dark Wood.

And here she tells you to be careful and not trust her because she is a liar. Which is a fun thing to say because it’s true. Writers are liars. But it also makes the reader trust Nora a bit more because she is telling the truth to us. It’s quite clever!  The other characters are interesting, but stereotypical. Flo’s obsession with Clare is familiar since she shows up in films, TV shows, and novels alike. As do the bitchy gay friend Tom and Nina the no nonsense caller-outter of BS. Clare, the bride-to-be and former friend of Nora, is a bit more blurry a character. Its hard to get a fix on her.

If you are a fan of mystery thrillers such as Girl on the Train or Gone Girl (according to the back cover of my paperback) pick this one up and give it a try. As I’ve said this book is a quick, fast paced read that is perfect for summer.

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