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!
IN A DARK, DARK WOOD
BY RUTH WARE
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.
THE MIDNIGHT MAN
Slayton Thrillers #1
BY CAROLINE MITCHELL
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!