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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Woods by Harlan Coben

I've read other books by Harlan Coben, and The Woods continues his tradition of mysteries that make for very good, very suspenseful reading.

As the book opens, Paul Copeland is an acting county prosecutor for Essex County, New Jersey. He is prosecuting two college aged students for raping a girl who was invited to a frat party as one frat boy's date, but who ended up in the room of two other boys who raped and sexually abused her. She filed criminal charges against the two frat boys who came from wealthy families, both of whom were willing to threaten, bribe, or otherwise convince anyone standing in the way of their sons' acquittal to drop all charges. In spite of hard pressure from the families, Copeland was determined to bring justice for the girl who had the courage to stand up to the bribes and threats meant to destroy her reputation.

Copeland himself has some skeletons in his closet that could be exploited to have him drop the rape case. As a teenage camp counselor Copeland was negligent in his duties. The result of this was the death of 4 campers who had gone into the woods one night. Two of the campers were found stabbed to death and buried in shallow graves in the woods; the other two were believed to be dead as well although their bodies were never found.

The story goes back and forth between the mystery in the past involving the campers in the woods and the court case in the present which Copeland is successfully prosecuting.

I find Coben's style very entertaining; he's very good at writing books categorized as "page turners". I'd recommend The Woods to anyone who likes suspense, mystery, and surprises.

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