Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Woods - by Harlen Coben

From the beginning of this novel, you quickly understand that Paul Copeland, a New Jersey prosecutor, was forever scarred from a tragic and traumatic past.  The story opens with the death of his father, and Paul's reflection of how, as a youth, he had followed him repeatedly into the woods to witness him grieving over and "digging for" his sister.  Twenty years earlier, four teenagers at a summer camp were victims in the woods.  Two were found murdered and two had disappeared.  Paul had been at that camp and his sister had been one of the teens that was never found.  The lives of the teens from that summer and their families had been significantly changed and deeply affected by the events of that night.  Just a few months after burying his father, however, Paul is dragged back into the search for his sister and the truth about what happened that night, when a seemingly unrelated homicide connects back to the horror of those woods.

Harlen Coben does a skillful job of parceling out details of Paul's history, the events of that night, and how those attached to the tragedy were deeply affected by it.  He completes the picture at a pace that keeps the story intriguing but suspenseful.  Paul is warned to leave the past alone, but he persists and uncovers secrets that neither he nor the reader expect to find.

Paul's journey back into his past is accompanied by his current efforts to prosecute a group of fraternity boys for the rape of a poor young black stripper.  He seeks justice and must battle the attempts by a rich and powerful father to protect his son.  Paul's black and white perspective of right and wrong in this case is contrasted against what the father of his teenage friend, the father of his girlfriend from summer camp, his own father, and ultimately himself are willing to do for their children.

I very much enjoyed this book.  The storyline was interesting and engaging and the plot twists kept surprising me until the very end.  I highly recommend this novel.

1 comment:

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