Review: The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

In the shocking new thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away, a man whose past is shrouded in mystery must find a missing teenage girl before her disappearance brings about disastrous consequences for her community . . . and the world.

The man known as Wilde is a mystery to everyone, including himself. Decades ago, he was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. After the police concluded an exhaustive hunt for the child’s family, which was never found, he was turned over to the foster system.

Now, thirty years later, Wilde still doesn’t know where he comes from, and he’s back living in the woods on the outskirts of town, content to be an outcast, comfortable only outdoors, preferably alone, and with few deep connections to other people.

When a local girl goes missing, famous TV lawyer Hester Crimstein–with whom Wilde shares a tragic connection–asks him to use his unique skills to help find her. Meanwhile, a group of ex-military security experts arrive in town, and when another teen disappears, the case’s impact expands far beyond the borders of the peaceful suburb. Wilde must return to the community where he has never fit in, and where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review.

The Boy from the Woods publishes March 17, 2020. 

This was a highly entertaining read. Most of the books I’ve been picking up lately have been pretty disappointing, but The Boy from the Woods ended up being even more enjoyable than I was expecting.

One thing Harlan Coben does really well (among the many things he does really well) is character development. There are a lot of characters in this book and I felt really invested in all of them. I’ve read in other reviews that one of the main characters of this book, Hester, has shown up in many other of Coben’s books, but as I am woefully behind in catching up on his backlist, I think I’ve only read of her once before. While I’m sure more familiarity with her characters would make people love her in this book even more, I found her very compelling without all the backstory. Like I said, Coben does a great job with character development and we get to learn a lot about Hester and her past and her future. What I really love about her is her quick wit. She has so much great banter with multiple characters and I was here for it.

I also really liked Wilde. He has a fascinating backstory and was a really unique character. I really hope there are more books to come with Wilde as a main character because this story ends with a whole lot of unsolved questions about him. I am one of those readers that like things tied up in neat little bows at the end of a book, so not getting those questions answered about Wilde really bugs me.

I thought the story was really well paced. Even though it was very character driven, the plot moved along with every chapter and I was disappointed any time I had to put it down. There were a lot of threads to the mystery, with several red herrings. I found it interesting, if ultimately kind of far fetched. I did like the discussion about today’s political landscape. Without actually going into political agendas, it explored how volatile things are right now and how extremists are becoming more of the norm and how dangerous that is. I had a bit of a hard time, though, with getting on board the train of thought that Rusty, the presidential candidate, was going to be responsible for the death of millions through manipulation alone.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Boy from the Woods. I loved the characters and the banter and the steady pacing made for a very addictive read. There were a few things I found a little too unbelievable and was frustrated by some big unanswered questions, but it was still a really fun book. I will be anxiously waiting to see if another book with these characters will be coming soon.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

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Synopsis from Goodreads:

A chilling tale of psychological suspense and an homage to the thriller genre tailor-made for fans: the story of a bookseller who finds himself at the center of an FBI investigation because a very clever killer has started using his list of fiction’s most ingenious murders.

Years ago, bookseller and mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders, those that are almost impossible to crack—which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders”—chosen from among the best of the best including Agatha Christie’s A. B. C. Murders, Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, Ira Levin’s Death Trap, A. A. Milne’s Red House Mystery, Anthony Berkeley Cox’s Malice Aforethought, James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity, John D. Macdonald’s The Drowner, and Donna Tartt’s A Secret History.

But no one is more surprised than Mal, now the owner of the Old Devils Bookshop in Boston, when an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller who spends almost every night at home reading. The killer is out there, watching his every move—a diabolical threat who knows way too much about Mal’s personal history, especially the secrets he’s never told anyone, even his recently deceased wife.

To protect himself, Mal begins looking into possible suspects—and sees a killer in everyone around him. But Mal doesn’t count on the investigation leaving a trail of death in its wake. Suddenly, a series of shocking twists leaves more victims dead—and the noose around Mal’s neck grows so tight he might never escape.

I received a copy of this title via a giveaway on Goodreads. It does not impact my review.

Eight Perfect Murders publishes on March 3, 2020. 

I don’t always know what to expect when I start a Peter Swanson book, but I do know it’s going to be addictive and hard to put down.

I really like Swanson’s writing style. There’s always good character development, slightly unreliable narrators, and little surprises placed effectively throughout the story. Though the book wasn’t fast-paced, I couldn’t read it fast enough. I just find the writing so compelling and I had to know what was going to happen next. I also thought Swanson did a good job of giving us multiple suspects. I will admit that while I did ultimately suspect the murderer, it was only one of my suspects out of many and was not even one of my top three guesses.

Long time mystery book lovers will enjoy the mentions of several books. However, I think you’ll still enjoy the book love even if you haven’t read any of the novels mentioned. Even though this genre is the one I read the most of, I’ve read very few of the “classics” and have not read any of the books listed here – or even heard of a few of them. As a lover of books, though, I still enjoyed the many literary references and general feeling of booknerdom.

Overall, I really enjoyed Eight Perfect Murders. I liked all the book references and the main character and the addictive writing. I thought the ending was a little unsatisfying, though, and wish there was a bigger twist. However, I still had a great time reading this book and definitely recommend it to mystery fans.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 4 Stars

February 2020 Recap

So February was kind of the opposite to January for me. I fell off the wagon with all my goals – exercise, counting calories, daily devotionals, writing. It all went downhill for me. I have fallen far behind in responding to blog comments and blog hopping. At work, one of my co-workers found out that her cancer had not only returned but spread very aggressively. She’s going to stop working to focus on her treatment, but if you all can keep her in your prayers, it would be appreciated. The one good thing that happened this month is that my Mom finally got to retire. They threw her such a nice retirement party at work and I’m very happy for her. I also manged to read a decent number of books this month.

Books Read: 14

Adult: 9
New Adult: 1
Young Adult: 4

Favorite Book I Read This Month:

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Anti Stephbrother by Tijan.

  Books Reviewed: 6

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills – 4/5 Stars

Follow Me by Kathleen Barber – 4/5 Stars

No Bad Deed by Heather Chavez – 2/5 Stars

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen – 2.5/5 Stars

Yours in Scandal by Lauren Layne – 4/5 Stars

I Hate You Fuller James by Kelly Anne Blount – 2/5 Stars

Books Read in 2020 Overall: 29

Funny Fridays:

February 7

February 14

February 21

Other Posts:

January 2020 Recap

Top 5 Tuesday: Top Books that Weren’t What I Expected

WWW Wednesday: February 5, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Turned my Cold, Black Heart to Mush

WWW Wednesday: February 12, 2020

Reviewing the Unreviewed: February 2020