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February 05, 2008

The Woods - Harlan Coben

The Woods - Harlan Coben

Book 6 of my 52 books for 2008

After what I thought was a bit of a disappointing read last year, "Promise Me", this one is more of a return to form for Corben, in fact surpassing anything else I've read by him.

This one is about a violent crime 20 years in the past that left four teenagers dead and tore apart several families. Paul Copeland is a prosecutor trying an important case when his past comes back to make him doubt what really happened in the woods all those years ago.

The opening few pages are terrifically emotionally charged, and Corben keeps piling it on throughout the book. The only annoying thing is that his characters make amusing quips at the most inappropriate of moments. I completely lost my sense of disbelief at these times as it's so jarring, and so not what people would really do.

As well as the solving of the mystery, there are thought provoking ideas of what is right and wrong morally. Is it better to tell the truth or tell a white lie that keeps your relative out of prison. Would you stand up to corruption if your life was threatened? What about your child's life. What would you do to protect them? Happily, the days of black and white are long behind us, and we get many shades of grey here.

As the mysteries gradually unravel, and the skeletons (almost) literally come out of the closets, it all gets a bit complicated, and barely believable, but just manages to stay on the right side of plausibility. This is as it should be, a bit of mind stretching is good exercise.

Something Coben does well is to include new technology in his books. In a lot of fiction you'd think that mobile phones had never been invented, nevermind the internet. Here phones go off all the time, just like real life, and when someone wants to track down an old flame, he Googles for her and gets a photo from her work website. Since CSI, TV have made progress in this area, though they go a bit far into what's actually possible. But people do use Google for all sorts of things these days. It's become part of the language, so authors who want to reflect real life ought to reflect that.

It's a really good thriller, and commendably for this genre, manages it without trying to gross the reader out.

Posted by se71 at February 5, 2008 01:51 PM


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