The Woods by Harlan Coben

Title: The Woods
Author: Harlan Coben
Pages: 520
Pub Date: April 1, 2008
Genre: Fiction, Suspense & Thriller
Rating: 4/5


Paul Copeland has experienced significant loss in his lifetime. His sister, Camille, and three other friends were murdered in the woods at a camp where they all went when he was young. The devastation of losing Camille caused Copeland's mother to run off, never to be seen again, and his father to spend evenings digging through the woods that took his daughter's body that was never found, until his own eventual demise. As if that wasn't bad enough, Copeland, who as an adult became the county prosecutor, loses his wife to a terrible illness and has a very young girl to raise on his own. Pretty crappy life, right?

Well, it only gets worse. A body shows up dead. A body that should have already been dead some twenty odd years ago in the camp slaying. That's right, Paul's friend Gil evidently had been alive all this time. Which makes Paul believe that his sister might still be too.

Lies, secrets, family turmoil, fraud, embezzlement, hell, even the KGB are all thrown together in this thriller.

My Thoughts

OK. So I picked this book up a while back from a thrift store. It was a slender paperback (a lot longer than the normal ones) and seemed like the perfect book to take along a summer road trip, a dip in the pool, or just laying around. But, like so many other books that I purchase, I kept putting this one off for some reason or the next. *Then* a couple of posts back, I commented out loud to myself that my reading rarely meshes with my television watching. I generally DVR the Law & Orders, or my newest favorite, Life; but I hardly ever pick up and read thrillers or cop-like books. I mean, I knew why I usually walked away from those genres - I'm very much a character-driven reader rather than plot-driven. Don't get me wrong, I want my books to have plots, but overall I'm more interested in how the characters develop rather than the plot. *shrug* And let's face it, at least in my perusal, most crime novels are held together because of their plot.

Well, well, well, ladies and gents, I have found an exception. I couldn't believe how three-dimensional Paul Copeland was. His life experiences, how he processed those life experiences, the muddle, the growth, the existential crisis. It's all there. (I mean, don't get me wrong, it was still very much a thriller/crime fiction. But there was more depth here than what I was expecting!) On top of that the plot kept me guessing, and new sub plots continued to be introduced. I was hooked from the first chapter. The Woods was such an incredibly fast paced novel, I couldn't believe I was nearing the end when I was. And then the ending. Wow. Like I stress, completely human. Even if the case was solved, the emotions that went along with the case were still tattered. Real. Not a nice neat, case closed and let's wipe our hands of it.

Harlan Coben is a new author for me; I don't know if his other books are as good, but I'm willing to check them out in the future.


  1. Sounds like a real thriller that I would like to read. Great review.

  2. This was a thrilling review! suspenseful, even.

  3. Scrap girl - I hope his others are as good :)

    bkclubcare - thanks :)


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