The Barnes & Noble Review
While the pulse-pounding action of Harlan Coben's stand-alone thriller takes place in a familiar (almost cinematic) setting -- the ominous woodlands surrounding a summer camp -- the plotline of this wild roller-coaster ride is anything but predictable.
In the midst of the biggest case of his career, acting Essex County prosecutor Paul Copeland is contacted by investigators who have linked him to a middle-aged man found dead in Manhattan. When he views the corpse, he is shocked by the man's uncanny resemblance to Gil Perez, one of four teenagers (including Copeland's own sister Camille) supposedly killed decades earlier in the woods near a New Jersey summer camp. Working as a camp security guard that summer, Copeland neglected his duties for a tryst with his girlfriend on the night of the murders, and he has lived all these years with crippling guilt and grief. Now he's forced to revisit that tragic event as he embarks on a quest to unravel the mystery behind the brutal crime.
Coben pulls out all of the stops in The Woods, a wild ride featuring a rogues' gallery of sadistic serial killers, ruthless private investigators, brain-damaged hippies, hardcore porn addicts, and former KGB agents. Readers will find it virtually impossible to unglue their eyes from the pages of this utterly compelling thriller. Paul Goat Allen
At the start of this disappointing stand-alone from bestseller Coben (Promise Me), Paul "Cope" Copeland, acting county prosecutor for Essex County, N.J., and Lucy Gold, his long-lost summer camp love, are still haunted by a fateful night, decades earlier, when their nighttime tryst allowed some younger campers, including Cope's sister, to venture into the nearby forest, where they apparently fell victim to the Summer Slasher, a serial killer. Cope's intense focus on a high-profile rape prosecution of some wealthy college students shifts after one of the Slasher's victims, whose body was never found, turns up as a recent corpse in Manhattan, casting doubt on the official theory of the old case. Cope's own actions on that night again come under scrutiny, even as the highly placed fathers of the men he's prosecuting work to unearth as many skeletons as possible to pressure him into dropping the rape case. Less than compelling characters fail to compensate for a host of implausibilities. Hopefully, Coben will return to form with his next book. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
This read will cure you of any inclination to send your kids (if you love 'em) to summer camp or traipse through the woods yourself. Coben has spun a gripping, chilling tale, whose plot has more tributaries than a swamp. The unexpected turns of events and characters with less-than-wholesome agendas or secrets from the past are astonishing, yet you never get lost in the complexity. From the first page you're hooked. (17 Sep 2007)
Paul Copeland is a county prosecutor working on a difficult case when two policemen arrive and take him to the morgue to identify a body. The case sets up echoes from Paul's past, forcing him to relive 20-year-old events and the day that destroyed his innocence. When he was a teenager, Paul was at a summer camp with his sister. He neglected his duties, instead rendezvousing with a girl, and in the end what started as a prank resulted in four deaths. Haunted daily by his actions, Paul now sees an opportunity for redemption. Can he sort out what really happened on that fateful night? The exploration of ordinary people with life-shattering secrets is a common thread in Coben's novels. Instead of this premise becoming stale, though, he has created another surprising and emotional story that will remain with the reader long after the last page is finished. One of Coben's best, and a necessary purchase. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/07; Mystery Guild, Literary Guild, BOMC, and Doubleday Book Club main selections.]
Praise for The Woods
“[The Woods] might just be the best thing Coben has written...A gripping story, filled with fine characters and dark secrets.”—Chicago Sun Times
“A lively, fast-moving entertainment, jam packed with the bizarre plot twists that are his stock in trade.”—The Washington Post
“A fast-paced, complex plot...Coben’s talent for creating involving and compelling stories shines.”—South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Dark and deep.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Coben turns the idyll of summer camp into a nightmare...Enter, you who dare.”—The Columbus Dispatch
“Another surprising and emotional story that will remain with the reader long after the last page is finished. One of Coben’s best.”—Library Journal