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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of this disappointing stand-alone from bestseller Coben (Promise Me), Paul "Cope" Copeland, acting county prosecutor for Essex County, N.J., and Lucy Gold, his long-lost summer camp love, are still haunted by a fateful night, decades earlier, when their nighttime tryst allowed some younger campers, including Cope's sister, to venture into the nearby forest, where they apparently fell victim to the Summer Slasher, a serial killer. Cope's intense focus on a high-profile rape prosecution of some wealthy college students shifts after one of the Slasher's victims, whose body was never found, turns up as a recent corpse in Manhattan, casting doubt on the official theory of the old case. Cope's own actions on that night again come under scrutiny, even as the highly placed fathers of the men he's prosecuting work to unearth as many skeletons as possible to pressure him into dropping the rape case. Less than compelling characters fail to compensate for a host of implausibilities. Hopefully, Coben will return to form with his next book. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

In this stand-alone legal thriller, Harlan Coben presents a riveting courtroom drama, creates riveting players, and delves into family secrets, love, loss, mistakes, and betrayal. A few critics noted that while The Woods falls into Coben's typical formula—a past crime affects innocent people in the present—it still comes off as fresh. The trial scenes, Cope's ruminations on what really happened that night, and the back-and-forth narration are particularly well done. Only the Washington Post faulted the novel's cheap thrills, improbable revelations, and awkward conclusion. Nevertheless, few readers will remain unaffected by its emotional heft.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio; Unabridged edition (April 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159737637X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597376372
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (442 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,550,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harlan Coben is the bestselling author of sixteen previous novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers "Long Lost" and "Hold Tight." Winner of the Edgar Award, the Shamus Award, and the Anthony Award, Coben lives in New Jersey with his family.

Customer Reviews

Characters were well developed and the story line was easy to follow.
J. Pegues
What follow twists, turns, and twins it's way through a mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.
Becky Johnson Author of Run
This book got a bit too tangled up by the end for me because there was just too much going on.
BarkLessWagMore (Horror After Dark Crew Member)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on June 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
With "The Woods," Coben proves again to be one of the most consistent thriller writers around. This is familiar territory, with familiar themes and characters (even a few carryovers from previous stories), and yet Coben manages to connect with us on emotional and intellectual levels.

Twenty years earlier, the Copeland family dealt with a horrific situation involving the woods surrounding a summer camp. Now, one of the original homicide victims has resurfaced--with a different name and hints that he survived. Paul Copeland finds himself dragged back into the anguish of that dreadful evening. Not only did he lose his sister, he lost real connection with his parents, due to their grief. As he explores the widening mysteries, he is faced to confront hard truths about each and every person he has loved.

As always, Coben mixes suspense, mystery, subplots, and twists, with themes of family and loyalty and loss. "The Woods" is a fast read. Although a bit shallower on some levels than "Gone for Good" or "Tell No One," this story still gives us more reason to care than many other thrillers out there. Coben's soft heart comes through once again--and for that, I'll keep coming back.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on January 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Originality is always a prized quality in a novel, but sometimes you just need a predictable, unchallenging, fast-food sort of book for a hectic time. That's when I turn to the "thrillers" shelf and writers like Harlan Coben.

"The Woods" is the story of Essex County Prosecutor Paul Copeland and his twenty-year-old family tragedy. His sister, Camille, and three other campers went into the woods one summer night; two bodies were found, but not his sister's. The tragedy tore Paul's family apart, and he never came to terms with his role as the camp counselor who should have been keeping watch.

When the other missing camper turns up dead -- but recently so -- Paul's world spins out of control again. He's embroiled in the rape trial of two fraternity boys and their families will do anything to keep the boys out of prison. The threat to Paul's family and career is vicious -- unrealistically so, I thought, but maybe I'm naive in the wicked ways of the world.

Coben writes with a satisfying assurance and the characters are reasonably well-defined, though the women are strangely stereotyped and hard to know. Paul Copeland moves plausibly through the well-paced story. While I didn't care passionately about his outcome, I did wish him well -- assuming that everything would be happily resolved, as it usually is in this type of book. Coben surprised me with an ambiguous ending, which I considered to be a good thing.

The complicated plot is developed and wrapped up well, a real strength of this book, though there are some elements that fit poorly in the story.
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43 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Bill Garrison VINE VOICE on May 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm a big fan of Harlan Coben. I've read five of his novels, including his newest, THE WOODS. Each novel is captivating and thrilling, full of twists and turns. In his latest, Paul Copeland is the Essex County, New Jersey prosecuter. He is knee deep in the middle of a rape case when he gets the call from some detectives in New York. It seems they believe Copeland can help them with the details of an unsolved murder, a murder that may relate to the brutal slaying of Copeland's sister 20 years ago.

Twenty years ago at an idealic summer camp, four teenagers were brutally murdered, including Copeland's sister Camille. The killer is behind bars, and Copeland is just now getting on with his life, learning to raise his six year old daughter alone after his wife's death from cancer. Lucy Gold, a professor at a nearby college and Copeland's ex-girlfriend, begins receiving a journal in a creative writing class from one of her students. Turns out that journal is recreating in vivid detail the night of those murders. Who could be writing the journal? How could they know about that night? Loren Muse, a holdover from a previous Coben novel, has a strong role as Copeland's chief investigator.

As is typical with Coben novels, he throws a lot at you, and most of it sticks. There are twists right down to the last page, and all of the plot loose ends are resolved. This is the first novel where Coben's novel seems formulaic and not unique. He seems to enjoy the theme of people once thought dead possibly being alive. Copeland's daughter and deceased wife really play no role in the story. The Russian, KGB angle also seemed contrived and unnecessary. Still, Coben has the knack for making the implausible plausible, and having fun with even the most far-fetched scenario.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Melvin Anderson on August 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My first reading of Harlan Coben was a mistake, other reviews spoke highly of his writings, but no so of "The Woods." I agree with them, I thought it stunk on plot, but well written getting it two stars instead of only one. First, there were two plots going on, the rape trial of two college boys and second, an unsolved multiple murder occurring in a camp where the protagonist of this book worked, Then the author tried to interconnect the two, and what a mess. Vindictiveness on the part of the parents of the college students undergoing trial leading to partitioning of the prosecuting attorney's thoughts and a big fuss over it, something I thought would be automatic in any case for any prosecutor. And what good did it do the parents? It ruined the career of a good attorney but did nothing to advance the main plot of the book. Then there was the twenty year gap, leading to murder of one individual which brings out red herrings galore, killings occurring for psychological reasons, killing occurring to prevent detection of other murders, people being declared dead who are later found to be alive but the proper people either deny it or refuse to accept it. What a mess!
On and on it goes, twists and turns all over the place, love returning, love declared, love refused, love leading to embarrassment and self-loathing. How the author kept everything straight I don't understand but he did, the reader following him like myself, had trouble, sometimes bad enough so I wanted to throw the book away, like some of the other reviewers of this book but I was always able to stifle the impulse. I sure was glad to finish this book, but I will confess it was well written enough so that I am willing to try another book by this author on other reviewer's good reading lists.
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