Oh well, you can’t win them all. Coben’s novels are generally consistently good, and while The Woods was well enough written, with the typical surprise twists and turns that are standard in a good Coben novel, it wasn’t enough for me to give this novel more than a 2 star, I’m afraid.
County prosecutor Paul Copeland is knee-deep in a rape case that he is determined to prosecute to the end. Two snarky frat boys from wealthy families lured a stripper and single mother into their room and raped her repeatedly, and the woman’s efforts to see them punished would have been in vain had it not been for Copeland’s determination to see justice done, despite pressures, threats and even blackmail attempts by one of the boy’s powerful fathers to stop him. Okay, so we know Copeland is a good guy, right?
In the middle of all this, a corpse shows up which turns out to be one of the supposed homicide victims in a multiple murder at a children’s camp 20 years earlier—the same summer camp at which Paul had been the counselor on duty that fateful night and where Paul’s sister was another of the victims. However, the bodies of the dead man and Paul’s sister were never found, and with the surfacing of the dead man decades later, Paul is convinced that his sister could be alive. And so it begins.
What goes on at this point is a complicated mingling of stories involving the missing sister, Paul’s father’s dark secret, Paul’s summer camp girlfriend coming back into his life after a 20-year hiatus, Paul’s own guilty secret, the jailed serial killer who got his start at that same summer camp, and of course the various ups-and-downs of the rape case. Not to mention two extremely hot women who cross the widowed Paul’s path even before the girlfriend shows up.
Too messy, too implausible. The best thing I liked about the book, perhaps, is the very end, which instead of the usual happy ending for these kinds of novels, leaves a big question mark in the reader’s mind which was the only way to save the book from total blah.