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The Woods

Review

The Woods

Harlan Coben is well into his second decade of writing
reliably surprising thrillers, including ONE FALSE MOVE, TELL
NO ONE, JUST ONE LOOK and PROMISE ME. Loss has been an ongoing
theme in Coben’s work, and THE WOODS, his latest novel, is no
exception.

Paul Copeland is the county prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey whose
less than perfect life is unraveling further. Twenty years ago, his
sister Camille was one of four summer campers believed to be the
victims of a serial killer. But the bodies of Camille and a
young man named Gil Perez were never found, and the lack of closure
over her apparent demise haunted Copeland and his loved ones in the
wake of her disappearance. Copeland’s mother deserted the
family, and he later lost his wife to cancer and his father to a
broken heart. At the commencement of THE WOODS, however,
things get even worse for Copeland. He’s in the middle
of trying the case of his career, involving two fraternity members
accused of raping a prostitute, when his world is suddenly rocked.
It turns out that Gil Perez didn't die at summer camp after all ---
he has just been found, freshly murdered, in New York City.

Meanwhile, Copeland is being pressured by the father of one of the
defendants he’s prosecuting to drop the case for a quid
pro quo
: if Copeland doesn't dismiss the charges, then support
for the cancer foundation he founded in his wife’s memory
will dry up, and certain skeletons in his closet will begin
rattling.

Then Lucy Gold, Copeland’s first romantic interest, comes
back into his life, as well as an exotically intriguing younger
woman with ties to Perez. Both may have answers concerning the
disappearance of Camille as well as other issues that have been
perplexing Copeland for decades. Coben switches the point of view
of the book back and forth between Copeland and Gold, both of whom
were irrevocably changed by the events of the past and who are
presently being haunted by them, even as someone --- or a number of
someones --- begins tormenting them for their own, unknown
purposes.

The trial scenes in which Copeland brings his prosecutorial skills
to bear contain some of Coben’s best writing, while bringing
to the forefront an unforgettable defense attorney. The mysteries
that propel the novel are the most intriguing that the author has
ever devised. Perhaps most importantly, however, it features enough
riveting characters to fill three (or more) books. If you’re
one of the few readers of thrillers who does not have Harlan
Coben’s name on your must-read list of authors, then THE
WOODS will put it on there.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011

The Woods
by Harlan Coben

  • Publication Date: April 17, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0525950125
  • ISBN-13: 9780525950127