Mini Book Review: the Woods by Harlan Coben

 

Harlan Coben is one writer who comes to my rescue whenever I face some reader’s block. So far, his books have been safe bets for me; fast-paced and entertaining! So, when I picked up his 2007 stand-alone thriller (which has also been made as a Netflix series), ‘The Woods,’ I was expecting nothing short of a paisa vasool racy thriller. Did it succeed in entertaining me? Well, read on.

Paul Copeland is a Public Attorney. Almost two decades back, four teenagers and his sister went missing in the woods of a Summer Camp. Paul is raising his daughter alone after the death of his wife. But then a body is found, and the well-buried secrets of the past come back haunting. Is the victim that of the man as claimed by the Police, or has it got something to do with Paul’s history?

At 450+ pages, this one is quite a lengthy read. Though there are many characters, none except the protagonist Paul and his old flame, Lucy, register. A couple of sub-plots involving Paul’s family(his dead wife, sister-in-law, and parents) and KGB (it might have been relevant when this book was first released almost two decades back, though!) are there, which are speed breakers at best!

I was disappointed with this novel by Harlan Coben. Agreed, this is one of his earlier stand-alone works(and a best-seller at the time of its release), and he has since churned out reasonably pacy and twisty thrillers. But to be very frank, this one falls way off the mark, be it in the thrill quotient or the pacing. The book has pacing issues. After a reasonably good start, the plot drags on and on with avoidable scenes and boring dialogues. The subplot around the court trial was interesting initially, but it turned pointless and bland after a point. The innumerable characters in the form of Lorraine and Raya Singh didn’t serve much of a purpose rather than adding pages and pages of dull prose to the narrative.

The novel does pick up pace towards the end with a couple of decent twists and reveals, but by then, I almost got exhausted and stopped caring about what was going on!

On the whole, I am giving a 2.5 out of 5 for this one!

 -nikhimenon


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