In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

I kinda don’t remember why I placed this on my library hold list, but I finally got around to reading it and, hmm. It’s very readable. I tore through the last half really quickly, almost compulsively: it’s written in such a way that I just had to keep going to find out whodunnit. Unfortunately, it was really predictable, and the mystery itself far less compelling than the atmosphere.

Our protagonist, Nora Shaw, wakes up in the hospital after a car accident, with huge gaps in her memory. She’d reluctantly agreed to go to the hen night — or weekend, rather — of her childhood best friend, Clare, despite not having seen her in the decade since they were both sixteen. Something terrible happened back then between Nora and her boyfriend, James, and she’d left her childhood friends behind, moving away and eventually becoming a reclusive crime writer with a need for daily runs.

The hen night is organized by Flo, Clare’s current best friend who often seems more neurotic admirer/sycophant than friend. The other guests include Nina, another friend of Nora and Clare’s from school; Tom, a colleague of Clare’s, and Melanie, who’d gone to uni with Clare and Flo. They all gather in Flo’s aunt’s summer house, a gleaming glass structure in the woods, for what’s supposed to be a fun, wild weekend. Instead there’s malice, carnage and death.

I really enjoyed the scenes from the hen weekend. It reminded me a lot of a grown-up version of Robin Klein’s Games (tho with a completely different ending, of course. No spoilers here!) Unlike with Games, however, I didn’t really care for any of these characters (hi, Doug!) Everyone is a variation on a brittle asshole, except maybe Melanie. And honestly, how emotionally stunted do you have to be to not get over a teenage breakup ten years ago, especially when you live in cosmopolitan environs with constant outside stimuli and chances to meet new and exciting people? I kept expecting a twist — which is what likely had me turning the pages — but it was a fairly straightforward, obvious whodunnit, dressed up with the shifting timeline plot device. There were bits that surprised me — why Nora and James broke up, for example — but I rather expected better and more, and am still unclear as to why I put the book on my to-read list to begin with. Oh wait, it’s going to be made into a movie? That’s probably why: I always consider that a recommendation of some sort, tho I’m starting to reconsider.

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  1. The pages all got turned before you could pronounce the Eight Deadly Words?

    1. Maddening! But also, good? Sort of?

      1. Sort of!

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