"The Woods" by Harlan Coben

"The Woods" by Harlan Coben

The Woods by Harlan Coben
Four Stars
February 2024
I became interested in Harlan Coben books after watching “Fool Me Once” on Netflix. The limited series is based on Coben’s book, The Woods. This storyline began with twists, turns and plenty of mystery. So I cracked the cover of his 2012 publication The Woods, just one of his 39 novels.
Protagonist Paul Copeland, county prosecutor lives a fragile existence having lost his young wife to cancer and his sister who was a victim of a serial killer many years before. A killer who was later convicted, went on a rampage in the woods near a summer camp for teens. Two teens were brutally murdered and the bodies of Paul’s sister along with a young man named Gil were never found. Along with grief, there is also doubt and confusion.
To make matters worse, Paul carries guilt for the role he played that fateful night. As a camp counselor it was his duty to insure everyone was in their cabins, safe for the night. To muddy the waters further, Paul along with his girlfriend Lucy were not where they were supposed to be either.
Twenty years later Paul is escorted to the police station to identify a homicide victim who investigators think may be Gil. If it is the missing victim, where has he been for two decades? And if he did survive the gruesome attack in the woods, could Camille still be alive?
Paul relies on his sister in law Greta and her husband who help with his young daughter. They are the only family he has. His father died of a broken heart and his mother left for their homeland of Russia not long after the tragedy with Camille.
The story line is engaging, exciting and mysterious until the Russian contingency comes into play. I’m all for twists and turns, but the whiplash knocked the intrigue down several notches taking the focus away from the protagonist. When my compassion for Paul wanes so does my interest in the story. Enjoying a book is so subjective, but for me the multiple plot lines dilute the storytelling.
-Kim Luke

Book Blurb-
Twenty years ago, four teenagers disappeared in the woods at summer camp. Two decades later, everything changes...

Paul Copeland's sister was one of the missing teenagers. Now raising a daughter alone after the death of his wife, he balances family life with a career as a prosecutor. But when a body is found, the well-buried secrets of the past threaten everything.

Could the victim be one of the missing teenagers? Could his sister be alive? Copeland has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: his first love, Lucy; his mother, who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his parents have been hiding ...

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