Saturday, 19 December 2015

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware Review

Twenty-six year old crime novelist Nora receives an unexpected e-vite from her old high school friend, Clare – she’s getting married and Nora’s invited to the hen night! Nora’s wary though as she hasn’t seen Clare in ten years and they parted ways bitterly – why reach out to her now? She agrees to go and, along with the five other guests, heads to the maid of honour’s aunt’s house in the wintry Northern England countryside for the party. Except foul play is afoot and someone won’t be leaving the house alive… 

Ruth Ware’s debut novel is a thriller worthy of its name! She snares the reader instantly by introducing Nora seriously injured in a hospital’s intensive care unit and then flashes back to days before as the hen night begins – wha’ happen in between?? The jumping from present to the recent past is very effective in slowly revealing to the reader what’s going on as well as moving both the narrative forward while keeping the tension up. 

In a Dark, Dark Wood reminded me of Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None… (it's also referenced in the book too) which has a similar setup of an isolated house full of strangers with a murderer among them. The “country house murder mystery” trope is also one of Christie’s staples. That’s all to the good by the way as I loved And Then There Were None… and a modern day version of it is very welcome, though it’s just one murder victim here rather than several. 

I’m of the Elmore Leonard school of writing where adverbs should never be used to modify the verb “said” (he mentioned hilariously solemnly) but Ware isn’t and throws in an adverb after almost every “said” which bothered me a bit. Otherwise her writing is very good, especially her characterisation – everyone in the story is distinctive and sharply realised. 

The last third of the book is a little slower than the first two thirds but it’s still an exciting story to see play out and I barrelled through this. I couldn’t tell who the killer was and the unpredictability is kept up remarkably strongly towards the end. When we find out though, the reveal is a bit underwhelming and the motivation kinda stupid. It’s not an amazing finale but it’s a great ride getting there. 

Ruth Ware’s In a Dark, Dark Wood is a really enjoyable murder mystery recommended to all fans of this genre, especially fans of Agatha Christie’s books.

In a Dark, Dark Wood

1 comment:

  1. Haven't heard about that writer but it sure sounds like a very interesting story. By the way, I just read your post about Star Wars and it was great. You certainly know a lot about comics and movies. Anyway, I also wrote about Aaron and Cassaday's first arc in my blog (wich I encourage you to visit):

    I hope you enjoy my review, and please feel free to leave me a comment over there or add yourself as a follower (or both), and I promise I'll reciprocate.