After ten years, Lenora is unexpectedly invited to an old friends’ bachelorette party at a cabin in the woods. She begrudgingly agrees to attend, but when she wakes up in the hospital it’s clear that something went terribly wrong. She must piece together her memories to figure out what happened, who died, and who did the killing all while answering police questions without incriminating herself.
This was my first foray into the mystery thriller genre and I have to say that In a Dark Dark Wood this was a decent introduction. Ruth Ware is a capable writer who weaves together the two timelines – Lenora in the hospital and Lenora at the cabin – with ease. The characters are realistic and the unspoken animosity between Lenora and bride-to-be Clare is reminiscent of mean-girl frenemy school relationships. In addition to Lenora and Clare, there’s a motley crew of old school friends, new friends, and colleagues present and the only things that tie them together (besides knowing Clare) are the drinks, drugs, and other activities of the weekend. Thinking about it now, the activities of these at times drunk and drugged up party-goers are comparable to the Bacchae. Both work themselves into a frenzy which is followed by a seemingly unplanned death. But of course, the death was planned and the dysfunction between this set of characters works to provide the who-done-it drama.
As this is, as far as memory serves, my first thriller, I do not have anything to compare it to or any standard for exactly how thrilling a book should be. I was satisfied with how the events unfolded, especially with how Lenora’s memories lead her to answers, yet the story follows a kind of predictable logic which may leave some readers feeling unsurprised. Even so, I was entertained and I’m sure others will be too.
Final verdict: A fast-paced novel good for dipping your toe into the mystery thriller genre.