Book Reviews by Mae Clair: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, The Midnight Man by Caroline Mitchell #suspense #mysteries

Striped kitten lying on open book, eyeglasses resting on pages. Book and kitten on white blanket

Today’s reviews are for books that had been on my reading radar for some time. I’d read Ruth Ware before, but for some reason hesitated on snatching up In a Dark, Dark Wood. I eventually grabbed it through Libby.

The Midnight Man intrigued me the moment it was released, but I had so many other books on my reading plate, I kept putting it off. Then BookBub sent me notice of a .99c deal, and I had to snatch it up. Apparently, it’s the first book in a new crime series, and if this one is any indication of what lies ahead, I can’t wait for the next!


bookcover with black and white illustration of tree branches, white branches on black background

IN A DARK, DARK WOOD
BY RUTH WARE

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

This book wasn’t exactly what I expected. Leonora agrees to attend a hen party for an old friend—one she hasn’t seen or spoken to in ten years. Because of last minute cancellations, the group ends up being very small, just six people, including the intended bride. The setting is a large contemporary home tucked deep in the woods.

I loved the descriptions of the house which features walls and walls of glass windows. Because the author drives those images home in scene after scene, I was really hoping for those towering windows to have more impact in the story. The atmosphere of both home and woods really pervades the first half of the book, which held me enthralled. There are squabbles during the hen party, old wounds reopened, even a few moments with a Ouija board.

The second half of the book deals with Leonora waking up in the hospital, trying to recall the events that led to someone being killed. That half is a bit plodding and I found myself wishing things would move at a faster pace.

The author does a good job of making each person a suspect in the killing, so I really had no idea who the culprit was prior to the reveal. Kudos for that. Kudos too, for placing the answer in plain sight but nestling it so cleverly I never picked up on the obvious. When the revelation comes it’s an “ahhh!” moment. So… great first half with a fantastic setting, clever close, but some plodding to get there. Also, I feel like the Ouija board incident was left hanging. Overall, 3.5 stars rounded to 4 for review purposes.

AMAZON LINK


THE MIDNIGHT MAN
Slayton Thrillers #1
BY CAROLINE MITCHELL

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Oh, the creep factor! Give me a spooky abandoned old house with a name like Blackhall Manor, an infamous history involving a grisly murder/suicide and an urban legend twined with a game played on Halloween, and you’ve hooked me as a reader. That’s exactly what Caroline Mitchell did with The Midnight Man, a crime thriller with a supernatural twist. From the first chapter—suspense on steroids—to the mind-boggling and thoroughly satisfying conclusion, I was riveted.

Detective Sarah Noble has returned to the force after a long absence and a ruined marriage that negatively impacted her job. She struggles with the censure of her peers while trying to adapt to a lesser role in the department.

On Halloween, fifteen years after the murders in Blackhall Manor, five girls receive an anonymous invitation to play a game in the old house which will summon the Midnight Man (think ghostly games, like Bloody Mary). Only four of the girls make it home.

Despite trying to keep a low profile, Sarah has ties to the old house she’s managed to keep secret from most everyone. As the danger ramps up, she’s caught up in a net that tangles her past with the game the girls played and Blackhall Manor itself. In addition, her friend, Maggie, has a seven-year-old son who has the gift of sight. Elliott sees visions he doesn’t understand, dark and macabre images that terrify him. With Elliott’s help, Sarah must piece together the mystery and put an end to the darkness of Blackhall before it claims more victims.

This is a creepy, atmospheric story that oozes suspense with every scene. There’s a full roster of suspects to keep you guessing about culprits. Everyone’s life overlaps in various ways for a plethora of knots in what makes a twisty little thriller. The reveals at the end come like a stack of dominos, one toppling upon the other for a staggering conclusion. I read this book in two days, irritated when real life intervened and pulled me away from the story. The best news—although this is a complete tale, it’s also the first in a new series by the author. I eagerly look forward to the next!

AMAZON LINK

61 thoughts on “Book Reviews by Mae Clair: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, The Midnight Man by Caroline Mitchell #suspense #mysteries

  1. OoOoh. I must add The Midnight Man, that sounds like a good one!
    And I’ll eventually get to In a Dark, Dark Wood but it’s been strongly suggested that I start with another of hers, The Turn of the Key?
    Great reviews and thank you for sharing them!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sheri, the Midnight Man is superb, and I think it’s still .99c. Can’t beat that deal! 🙂
      The Ruth Ware book I enjoyed was The Death of Mrs. Westaway. I didn’t read Turn of the Key but I have heard good reviews on it. I have another of her older titles (The Woman in Cabin 10) currently on hold at my library.
      Thanks for checking out the reviews!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I’ll check it out, thanks! ☺
        And those are all of the ones on my Tbr. I’ve heard only good things about The Death of Mrs Westaway but there’s something about The Turn of the Key that really piques my curiosity.
        And you’re very welcome! Have a nice night!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed The Midnight Man, Harmony. I was super excited about that one, and look forward to more in the series.

      In a Dark, Dark Wood was a decent read, just not what I expected. I loved the first half of the book. The second half not so much.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sharon, I have a Kindle copy of the Woman in Cabin 10 on a hold list with my local library. I can’t wait until it surfaces. I read The Death of Mrs. Westaway and really enjoyed that one. I still have to get to Turn of the Key.

      Midnight Man was exceptional! I’m so glad you enjoyed the reviews!

      Like

  2. I’m with you on the walls of windows, Mae – I thought for sure they’d figure into the plot somehow. But that second book? It sure calls to me. I’ll be checking out that one. Thanks for the recs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Midnight Man is still at .99c, Teri, so it’s a good time to snatch it up. A thorough riveting story.
      I enjoyed In a Dark, Dark Wood, just not as much as I expected. Ruth Ware an excellent author though, and I have another of her books on hold with my local library.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I loved how clever the ending of In a Dark, Dark Wood turned out to be. Especially when I realized the answer had been staring me in the fact the entire time.
      I think you would definitely enjoy The Midnight Man, Staci. It’s a twisty supernatural crime story that held me enthralled from the first sentence.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love Ruth Ware’s writing, but her books always feel slow to me. Hooray for a tricky ending, though. They’re hard to pull off. The Midnight Man sounds like a page turner. I’ll have to check it out. Your review of that was especially wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judi, The Midnight Man is still priced at .99c so it’s a great time to snatch it up. I think Caroline Mitchell will become an auto buy author for me. I loved the book so much, I pre-ordered the second one already! 🙂

      I have Ware’s The Woman in Cabin 10 on hold with my library through Libby. I read The Death of Mrs. Westaway and really enjoyed that one, but In a Dark, Dark Wood just didn’t deliver the suspense I thought it would. The first half was great, but I felt that slow plodding you mentioned in the second half.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I have a few of those “mean to read someday” authors, too, Tessa. These were both good books, but The Midnight Man held me spellbound. I’ve got another Ware book on my hold list with my local Library through Libby. I’ve heard good things about that one and am looking forward to it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • So glad to hear The Midnight Man is in KU, Balroop. I didn’t even realize that, but as you said—another plus. It’s a great story. Both of these books were good, but Midnight Man soared to higher levels. 🙂

      Like

  4. Thanks for the heads up on these two books, Mae. Midnight Man sounds like it needs to be on my TBR list, even though I’m trying not to add anything new until I clear some room. I’ll put it on my Amazon list, though, and will get back to it before too long, fingers crossed. You write great reviews that really help me decide whether or not a book is for me. Thanks again! 😀 ❤

    Like

    • I know what you mean about not wanting to add anything more to your TBR, Marcia. I’m the same way, and yet I recently bought eight new paperbacks and three new Kindle books. ARRRGGGH! There is no end, LOL.

      I’m glad that my reviews at least help you decide what to add to your mammoth TBR. 🙂

      Like

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