In A Dark, Dark, Wood is one of those books I have been dying to read. Towards the end of last year, I felt like I was reading nothing but good reviews. Plus, it sounded like my type of book. A bit of murder, a bit of mystery, a deep dark secret. What is there not to like?
The answer with this book is very little. It’s a great debut – well written and compelling. It starts with Nora (once known as Lee) receiving an email, an invite to her once upon a time best friend Clare’s hen weekend. It’s come from Flo, someone Nora has never met and who seems determined to make this the best hen party ever.
Despite misgivings and the nagging question “why now?” Nora agrees to go to and heads off to deepest, darkest Northumberland and a house in the middle of the woods where nothing feels quite right, including the guest list. Then, as if it couldn’t get much worse, Clare tells Nora the reason why she’s been invited. To let her know that she (Clare) is about to marry her (Nora’s) first love.
For Nora, it feels like things couldn’t get any worse until a gun goes off in the middle of the night and she wakes up in hospital unable to remember how she got there and whether she was the one who pulled the trigger. The hospital scenes alternate with chapters telling the actual story, helping the tension build. It was obvious from the beginning this wouldn’t be a normal hen weekend – the question is who decided to use it to settle scores.
There are plenty of suspects here, all well drawn and a little off the wall. Any of them could be “the one” and I decided each was guilty at one point or other. I did guess right in the end but not before a few wrong turns – and I wasn’t disappointed in the ending (as I often am with these books). The only criticism I have is that it was slightly dragged out a bit, with a final scene I didn’t think was needed. This is slight though and wouldn’t stop me recommending the book – loved it!