The Woods–Harlan Coben (Audio)

I will not say the writing in this novel was at classic level, unless it is classic murder mystery prose.  These types of weaknesses become more apparent in audio, where you read at the narrator’s speed rather than letter your eyes fly over the words as you look for the next clue.

The premise was interesting, which was what led me to purchase this from Audible.  The son of Russian immigrants turned New Jersey prosecutor is in the midst of a difficult rape case when the decades-old disappearance/murder of his sister and three other summer campers resurfaces in the shape of a middle-aged man’s body found in an alley that seems to be one of the missing campers.

Paul Copeland, “Cope,” is a widower (his rich beautiful perfect wife died of cancer six years previously) with a young daughter.  His father is recently deceased and his last words, to find her, haunt Cope.  Fortunately, he has a saint for a sister-in-law and a jovial brother-in-law who help pick up the slack with his daughter when the overpaid nanny is unable to care for her.  He has a solid moral center, but he lied to investigators the summer his sister disappeared.  He left cabin guard duty to sneak into the woods and make love to his girlfriend.  He lied, of course, to protect her, but our hackles go up a little.  Lies from a prosecutor?

The Woods is full of stock characters, including Cope’s lead investigator, Muse, a middle-aged, single woman who wears practical shoes and, although reed thin, eats like a horse.   Cope’s teenage love is an alcoholic English professor with a doctorate in psychology whose students all post positive online reviews of her classes.  Her father, the owner of the summer camp, is a stock aged hippie, complete with vintage yellow VW Beetle.  And, yes, because Cope is the son of Russian immigrants, the KGB makes an appearance.

I cannot say with confidence that I would have listened to this book had I known the level of writing, which became distracting to the point that my husband and children were mocking it when they were in the car when I was listening to it.  The end was also disappointing–cliche and vague.  If you like a book that lets you make fun of it or you want a quick beach read, The Woods might suffice.

Finished 6/21/15


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