Thursday, November 12, 2015

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Published by Gallery/Scout Press ISBN 9781501115523
Hardcover, $26, 320 pages

People looking for a read similar to The Girl On The Train have a new mystery to savor. Ruth Ware's In A Dark, Dark Wood is a worthy successor, also featuring an unreliable narrator.

The story opens with Nora waking up with a head injury in a hospital bed. She wonders what has happened and what she has done. And why is her room being guarded by a police officer? Is it to protect her or keep her from leaving?

Earlier, Nora received an invitation to a hen (bachelorette) party for someone she hasn't seen since high school. Since she didn't get an invitation to the wedding she finds this strange, but when her friend Nina calls and begs to go with her to the party, she reluctantly agrees.

The party takes place in a secluded house in the woods, and we meet the people at the party- Nora (a writer), Nina (a doctor), Melanie (a lawyer and new mom), Tom (a playwright), Flo (the party hostess and best friend of the bride) and Clare (the bride).

We slowly find out that Clare and Nora used to be best friends until something drastic happened to end that. And now Clare is engaged to Nora's ex-boyfriend. Why would Clare invite Nora to her hen party?

In A Dark, Dark Wood has a setup reminiscent to an Agatha Christie novel: a small group of people trapped in a place, when strange things begin to happen. There is too much drinking, some drug use, a ouija board, a shotgun on the wall, and then the truth telling begins and people begin to turn on each other. (There's even a Ten Little Indians shout-out in the story.)

When it appears that someone out there is trying to break into the house, the shotgun comes into play. And Nora ends up in the hospital with ahead injury with only flashes of a shooting and a car accident.

Like The Girl On The Train, the reader is led to believe that our narrator may be responsible for a death. Nora's head injury, like Rachel's alcohol-induced blackouts, causes her to wonder what she may have done. Ware does a terrific job creating an atmosphere of panic and confusion, and even though the reader feels confident she has cracked the mystery, she begins to doubt herself just as Nora does.

In A Dark, Dark Wood is a page-turner, the kind of book you can curl up with on a rainy day and read all the way through. And if someone you know from high school invites you to a weekend at a secluded house in the woods, you will know enough to decline. I recommend this book for those who liked The Girl On The Train and Agatha Christie mysteries. It was an Editor's Buzz book at BEA this year, and a well-deserved choice.

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