Mystery novel mixes marriage, murder

“Someone’s getting married. Someone’s getting murdered.” That’s the tagline on the cover of newcomer author Ruth Ware’s “In a Dark, Dark Wood.” Soon to be adapted into a movie by Reese Witherspoon, the novel takes readers into an English forest filled with twists, secrets and violence.

Leonora—referred to as Lee or Nora, depending on who she is talking to—is a crime writer who has not talked to her college friends in years. When she gets an email inviting her to her ex-best friend’s “hen” or bachelorette party, she is reluctantly surprised, but decides to attend.dark wood

Forty-eight hours later, she wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the party, but the knowledge that someone has died. Throughout the novel, Nora tries to piece together the events and remember whether she had something to do with the tragedy.

The chapters alternate between the party and the hospital as Nora hashes out her memories, and we get a glimpse not just into the weekend’s events, but also into Nora’s more distant past. We see her relationships with various characters and the things she has been through, creating a whole new aspect of looking at the mystery.

Throughout the novel, I found my thoughts and feelings about the characters changing many times. Every time I thought I had it all figured out, something would happen and completely turn the tables on my guess as to what happened. The novel always keeps you guessing and never fails to thrill.

There are some loveable characters, and as usual, the typical “mean girls” who no one can stand. Each character is entertaining in his/her stories and actions, and of course, you cannot trust a word they say. I found myself empathizing with Nora, and by the end, I was rooting for her 110 percent.

Some critics and other viewers are shelving this novel alongside the ever-popular “Gone Girl,” and while I can see why, I also feel it deserves its own level of crazy. It had me guessing up until the final chapter, and even after the big reveals, I was shocked.

I am excited to see how Witherspoon does with the movie adaptation. Until it is released, I highly recommend picking up this novel, especially if you have a love for psychological thrillers.

This debut novel is well worth the read, and I cannot wait to see what Ware has in store for future works. If they are anything like “In a Dark, Dark Wood,” I know I will be thoroughly impressed.

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