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Dutton Adult (April 17, 2007)
Harlan Coben’s The Woods brings to mind Sherlock Holmes opinion expressed in The Adventure of the Copper Beeches “It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.” Coben seems to be of a similar belief. It all started many years ago at a summer camp (curiously Tell No One also started at a summer camp). Pavel (Paul) Copeland worked at the summer camp where his sister and three others were murdered by a person or persons unknown.
Paul has grown up now and is the Essex County prosecutor pursuing a case against two local rich boys who raped a girl at their fraternity when the old case of his sister’s death rears its ugly head.The Woods is not so much a mystery as it is an intrigue. The reader is never really in the woods as to who is responsible for the murders in question what becomes more of an issue is why the whole case is being revisited two decades later. Meanwhile back in Essex County the rich parents of the rapist frat boys have hired the biggest and best detective agency to dig through the life of Paul Copeland and his relatives in order to discover something which they can use to kill the case against their kids. The Woods is a real page turner and a solid read from start to finish with an appropriately interesting finish.
Fans of Coben’s Myron Bolitar series will inevitably be disappointed by The Woods as it is not a Bolitar novel. More to the point though Coben’s trademark eccentric characters and snappy Chandleresque dialogue are replaced here with more mundane believable characters who speak with a normal vocabulary. New comers to Coben or those who have only read his work outside of the Bolitar series will be satisfied.