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THE WOODS by Harlan Coben


by Harlan Coben

Pub Date: April 17th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-525-95012-7
Publisher: Dutton

Twenty years after his teenaged sister and three of her friends were murdered at their summer camp, a New Jersey prosecutor learns that one of the victims—and maybe more than one—may have walked away.

Almost everyone Paul Copeland loves is gone. His mother took off years ago; his perfect wife died of cancer; his father went to his grave digging in the woods surrounding the old PLUS camp and telling Paul, “We still need to find her.” In fact, nobody’s ever found any more of Camille Copeland, than some bloody clothing. Three months after his father’s death, a fresh corpse reopens the case with a jolt. Pressed by the NYPD to view the body found carrying his address, Paul’s sure it’s Gil Perez, even though he’s supposed to have died in the woods two decades ago and his parents insist it’s not him. The discovery is so shocking that Paul can barely keep his mind on his latest high-profile case: the prosecution of two frat boys for raping exotic dancer Chamique Johnson, who was invited to a party at their house and then assaulted. Maybe it’s just as well if Paul is too distracted to bear down on the defendants, since their wealthy fathers are determined to cut him off at the knees by any means necessary, even if that means hunting for skeletons in his closet. EJ Jenrette goes after Paul with gusto. Considering his checkered family history, however, the ensuing revelations are a lot less resonant than they ought to be. And Coben’s fondness for playing out twist after twist long after most tale-spinners would have packed it in makes his yarn seem urgent but not terribly consequential, because unlike most of the author’s heroes (Promise Me, 2006, etc.), Paul never feels as if he’s in real danger.

All the surprises you’d expect from Coben, but a lot fewer thrills.