in a dark, dark wood, or, a Fun Way to Spend a Cold day Between the Covers

in a dark, dark wood by ruth ware

I recently read in a dark, dark wood by ruth ware and found it delightful.  I heard the interview on NPR with the author, and thought, that sounds like just the way to while away a cold day.  And it is.  This book takes place over the course of a weekend hen-do, which is basically a bachelorette party for you non-Brits out there.  This is all about a hen-do gone WRONG though.  It combines the usual bachelorette shenanigans with a good old-fashioned Agatha Christie-esque locked room murder mystery.  Its part murder mystery, its part Clue, its part unsolved mystery.  Its a fast read, and manages to not be overly ridiculous.

The book open with Nora, our heroine, getting invited to the hen-do of a friend, Clare, she hasn’t seen in 10 years.  The hen-do is to take place in chilly November, in a remote location in the UK.  The isolated, atmospheric setting help heighten the tension, and support the aspects of the story that are necessary for a mystery like this – limited cell service, unexplainable tracks in the snow, etc.  To up the ante, Care is actually marrying Nora’s former flame, but Nora doesn’t know this until after she’s arrived and already in the midst of the weekend.

Some reviewers have remarked that the book is bordering on cheesy – there is, after all, a shotgun hanging on the wall when everyone arrives, thats supposedly loaded with blanks.  Dun, dun, dun.  Frankly, though, this didn’t bother me.  I didn’t feel like this book was ever asking you to take it THAT seriously.  I don’t think its trying to be high literature, and I’m ok with that.  I felt like this was a book that harkens back to the “good ole days” of Agatha Christie, and maybe even Nancy Drew.  Even the title riffs on the genre, and the cliche of “A dark and stormy night.”  Yet the book manages not to be cliche, in my opinion.  If you’re a fan of old fashioned mysteries, pick this book up without delay.  If you’re looking for something with crime scene analysis, forensics, grit, or noir, give this one a pass.  For me, I enjoyed it and will read this author again.

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