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The Woods

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Twenty years ago, four teenagers disappeared in the woods at summer camp. Two decades later, everything changes...

Paul Copeland's sister was one of the missing teenagers. Now raising a daughter alone after the death of his wife, he balances family life with a career as a prosecutor. But when a body is found, the well-buried secrets of the past threaten everything.

Could the victim be one of the missing teenagers? Could his sister be alive? Copeland has to confront so much he left behind that summer twenty years ago: his first love, Lucy; his mother, who abandoned the family; and the secrets that his parents have been hiding ...

404 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2007

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About the author

Harlan Coben

207 books30k followers
Harlan Coben is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of the world's leading storytellers. His suspense novels are published in forty-five languages and have been number one bestsellers in more than a dozen countries with seventy-five million books in print worldwide.

His books have earned the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony Awards, and many have been developed into Netflix Original Drama series, including his adaptations of The Stranger, The Innocent, Gone for Good and The Woods. His most recent adaptation for Netflix, Stay Close, premiered on December 31, 2021 and stars Cush Jumbo, James Nesbitt, and Richard Armitage.

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5 stars
31,186 (33%)
4 stars
39,677 (43%)
3 stars
17,311 (18%)
2 stars
2,954 (3%)
1 star
1,024 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,470 reviews
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,296 reviews7,113 followers
August 6, 2016
I find that if I pick up a book by Harlan Coben, I then resent anything that requires my attention, dragging me away from it, such is his skill at grabbing hold of you and playing with your mind. He really knows his stuff, able to draw readers in with ease, and he hasn't failed with The Woods. The suspense is constant, but not happy with that, he manages to turn up the action a notch further as the story twists and turns every which way! The characters are really believable too, and the dialogue suits each of those characters perfectly. An absorbing tale once again.

Can Harlan Coben do anything wrong?
Profile Image for Sandra.
652 reviews6 followers
January 2, 2018
Twenty years ago eighteen-year-old Paul Copeland was working as a counselor at a summer camp in which four teenagers walked into the woods one night... two were murdered, and two went missing, never to be seen again (they were thought to be dead, their bodies were never found, some of their clothing had blood on it). One of the missing was Paul's sister, Camille. Twenty years later Paul (now a County Prosecutor) is being asked questions by detectives about a man who was recently murdered who had Paul's address on him and clippings about the camp murders. When Paul goes to the morgue and sees a tattoo on the dead man's arm that he recognizes, Paul is convinced the murdered man is the other man who went missing (like his sister). But if this man (who was just murdered) was alive for the past twenty years, maybe his sister could still be alive too.

Eventually Paul gets together with his ex-girlfriend (Lucy) from the camp (whom he hasn't seen in twenty years) after she contacts him because strange things are occurring in her life that have to do with that long-ago camp incident in which she was also involved.

I don't want to give any more of the plot away since it's more fun to read the book to find out what happens. I found the characters very interesting. I liked Paul, who was raising a young daughter (Paul's wife died of cancer). I also liked Lucy, who never really seemed to get over that long ago camp incident. (Her father ran the camp and he is now in a home.) The secondary characters were a lively group. I especially got a kick out of attorney Flair Hickory, the well-dressed/flamboyant attorney.

I really liked this fast-paced suspense story. There were moments of humor in the book that I find enjoyable from this author. And some surprises. This was a captivating and entertaining read.
Profile Image for Mandy.
317 reviews309 followers
November 26, 2015
Definitely a page turner! Coben always fascinates me with his novels!
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
525 reviews56.8k followers
May 1, 2022
The mystery was interesting but the rest felt very cliche (he's working on a case of an underaged black girl that was SA by 2 rich white frat boys) and frankly... I would have enjoyed it more if the main male character wasn't so insufferable. Even giving him a daughter and a dead wife didn't humanize him enough.
Profile Image for GirlWithThePinkSkiMask .
323 reviews855 followers
May 4, 2022
Writing: 3/5 | Plot: 2/5 | Ending: c'mon bro/5

THE PLOT

Essex County Prosecutor Paul Copeland is tryna be a good guy despite all the death in his life. But when a ghost from the past appears, Paul is forced to confront that fateful summer and figure out what really happened 20 years ago.

MY OPINION

Bruh......... You can really tell this book was written in (approx) 2006. It certainly did not age well. Paul was anything BUT a protagonist. It was like he was having an identity crisis; at times he was hell-bent on justice but not shy from some casual racism. The only thing consistent about his character was that he was horny AF. Every encounter with the opposite sex started with his appraisal of their looks and how much on a scale from 1-10 he wanted to clap their cheeks. Spoiler: it was always 10.

In typical male author fashion, what's a legal(ish?) thriller without an undercover spy (in this case KGB) storyline and/or embezzlement (for a pool, nonetheless!) and/or a proverbial dick swinging contest. Big no thanks for me, although I know others would really enjoy.

Also I wish Harlan had kept his political rants to himself. The "characters" would go on these tangents about random issues (ie, is shutting down frats bc of repeated rape fair? Dr. Lucy Gold, PhD in Psychology believes no!!!) that felt more like somebody's drunk uncle at Christmas ranting about "those damn illegals" after you shared pics of your trip from Mexico.

I like Caught and I enjoy the Netflix adaptions of his book, but this was just not it for me. I will still try his other novels, as there's certainly no shortage to pick from.

PROS AND CONS

Pros: this was a bday gift from my bestie 4 life

Cons: extreme male gaze writing, unnecessary spy/embezzlement/PI storylines, casual racism, big ass plot holes, a lil too long, lucy and paul being so in love bc they shebanged 20 yrs ago was lol to say the least. grow up
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,116 reviews1,977 followers
June 27, 2017
I have read all of Coben's Myron Bolitar books and love them all, but I have so far only tried a couple of his stand alones. On the strength of this one I will be looking out for more.
The main character is Paul Copeland, County Prosecutor of Essex, New Jersey. On the face of it he is an admirable character, successfully raising a child after the death of his wife, managing a fast developing career and totally honest and trustworthy. His court scenes are tremendous fun and he certainly fights to win. Of course no one has nothing to hide and events start to stack up against Paul.
This being a Harlan Coben book the story is excellent, fast paced, covering a lot of ground and with one red herring after another. The ending is quite a surprise although I was yelling at Paul to get out of there long before the gun appeared!
A very entertaining mystery, well told and fun to read.
Profile Image for P .
687 reviews317 followers
November 25, 2016
“You don't worry about happiness and fulfilment when you're starving.”




2.5 stars The Woods was quite boring with nothing new to surprise me. Harlan Coben put the old materials in this book again without reconsidering whether the twists were predictable or not. Four children were lost in the woods, twenty years later Paul Copeland wants to revaluate this case again, he thinks that maybe his sister is still alive somewhere. The book started off with the same feeling as if I was reading Tell No One, but the investigation part was not interesting or engaging at all. The case he's dealing with takes the big part and I had to skip it sometimes, it's meh-ish.

“You live among this ridiculous wealth and you get lost. You worry about nonsense like spirituality and inner health and satisfaction and relationships.You have no idea what it is like to starve, to watch yourself turn to bones.”




The problem is every single twist was predictable. I could guess what would happen after when someone did something and a new evidence just revealed itself and chaged the conclusion in your head. Coben narrated his story by following the step 1 2 3 4 5, not like his previous books, Tell No One - I was very excited all the time reading that book, and it's very much different for this one.

I think I should leave Coben's works for a while after this. Frankly, this book was thrilling when there were just two chapters left for me, and it ended in a short time.

https://goo.gl/pfjxNv
Profile Image for Suz.
1,049 reviews533 followers
December 22, 2016
Just love this guy. HC is great. This was very good audio book, well-crafted artists that delivered good quality reading with excellent accents, tone and an all-round feel of a quality performance, as after all, these audio books are a performance. Also a great feature was the use of a male and female narrator. Excellent! Funny enough though, I own the paperback without list here on GR, so (again) I end up with both hardcopy and audio. Here, the audio fits the bill.

This was a good chilling read. I always love the protags in this author’s stories. I was on the edge of my (car) seat the whole way, and boy was I glad to start my first job of my library career. I did not mind for one minute that the commute was thirty minutes each way!

‘Cope’, a successful city prosecutor searches for answers from a night which occurred over twenty years ago, the killings at a summer camp that he feels terribly guilty about, he failed to stand guard at his post, instead he snuck off to make love to his girlfriend. As always, he's just the type of guy you'd like to be with. Smart, in control, capable.

Harlan Coben writes thrillers with flair and humour, lots of twists and turns. He's very very good. Four youngsters went into the woods that night, and not all came out alive. This guy is good; I’d read him if I was you.
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
843 reviews1,689 followers
June 4, 2018
3.5*.

a real page turner. story was full of twists whenever i thought i know the murderer, there was a new mystery and a new revelation. I will definitely be reading other Coben soon.
Profile Image for Licha.
732 reviews106 followers
July 28, 2011
Cheat Sheet for Writing A Harlan Coben novel:
-an event that happened a long time ago that affected the lives of the loved ones
-one pretty hip guy who is quick with wit and sarcasm
-main character must be a professional white male who helps inner-city black characters-it's ok to throw out all stereotypes possible, as long as the main character justifies it by performing his civic duty of helping them out
-add a ballsy female side-kick, and give her at least one manly characteristic (if she's not lesbian, then make sure to also...
-add a homosexual character into the mix
-make sure to add a powerful, rich man who tries to give the hero a hard time
-location to use: the woods-it's a great place to hide a crime where evidence can easily be hidden and not have witnesses; that way you can make an unsolvable murder take place that will come back to haunt the hero later on
-the hero will start getting cryptic messages or emails that can't be possilble because the sender has been presumed to be dead for years
-an undertone of could the hero have been the murderer?
-what big secret did the presumed-to-be-dead character run away from?
-an ending they never saw coming even if it doesn't quite wrap up nicely

I'm sure I could probably add more, but these are just some of the points I could remember. To be fair to Mr. Coben, I have only read two of his books, the other one being "Tell No One". Both read at the same fast pace and with the same voice for the main character. I gave it two stars only because Mr. Coben does get you hooked into the story right away and I couldn't seem to put it down once I started reading . However as I kept reading this book, I kept noticing how similar it was to Tell No One. I began to think that somewhere in his desk, Mr. Coben has a list written out on a yellow legal pad sheet on how to write a suspenseful novel. If I used all the elements listed too, could I pull off writing a successful novel too? I wonder. The ending was not wrapped up for me as it felt like the author was trying to give it a "mouth-hanging shocker ending that you never saw coming". In the end, it just left me feeling that I don't ever have to read another Harlan Coben book again because I'll be left with a feeling of "I've read this before".
Profile Image for PamG.
766 reviews431 followers
June 9, 2021
The Woods by Harlan Coben is a standalone novel that combines courtroom drama with family secrets. It blends suspense and action well. Paul Copeland is the County Prosecutor for Essex County, New Jersey. He’s in the middle of a big trial and under a lot of pressure to find more evidence when a man is murdered who could be the person who disappeared twenty years ago with Paul’s sister.

Paul is a likeable character that is raising his daughter alone after his wife dies. His career is on the upswing, but what happens when threats and hope come from all sides? Could his sister still be alive? Will he cave to threats?

The book is somewhat slow-paced at times and combines a legal thriller with family drama and secrets. There are plenty of red herrings and twists to keep readers on their toes and the ending is much different than I expected. Themes include rape, murder, family relationships and secrets, young love, threats, and much more.

Overall, this had a complex plot and was suspenseful at times. Most reviewers have enjoyed this one much more than I did. 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 stars. The pace was too slow.

This is my honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own and are not biased in any way. Publication date for the paperback version was April 1, 2008.
Profile Image for Nicole.
708 reviews1,739 followers
February 22, 2021
The woods is a well-beloved book by my friends on GR and a popular one too. I really liked it... at first. Actually, until 80% I was pretty sure it's a solid 4 stars book. Now after reading the end, I'm still debating whether I should give it 2 or 3 stars. Why? I hated it.

This is my first book by Harlan Coben and while I can't say if it'll be my last, I hope he doesn't always a similar pattern in his books, or pull off such absurd resolutions. I don't have a worst-endings-I-ever-read list but if I did, it would have surely made it. I'm not going to give a summary of the story but it sounded interesting, and I was really in the mood for a good mystery book. But now what makes a mystery book good? The clues. I might guess who is the killer because of the clues but even if I didn't, I can think "oh that explains why...". Well, The Woods had none of these because the end was full of over-the-top dramatic "twists". They weren't out of nowhere as much as outstretched and simply BS. What I mean is the author clearly had wanted this ending from the start (in some books it doesn't look like that) but I felt betrayed, truly. I couldn't stop reading, it was so addicting. While none of the characters were memorable, I liked Lucy for example. Yet, instead of being surprised and shocked by the end since who doesn't like mindblowing plot twists, I was angry. It was full of shit. Unbelievable. Unrealistic. It would never ever happen in real life. That's another thing we like about mysteries, I guess. The slight possibility that this might happen somewhere to someone. It can be scary.

After writing this brief review, I'll go with 2 stars. When I compare it to other mysteries I've read and rated 3 stars, they were better, at least endwise. Before I had more time to read and I read books I knew I'm going to hate. I didn't mind. Now, I have a lot going in my life. I avoid the books I believe I'll dislike and would rather read only the good stuff. Anything disappointing will make me feel like I wasted my time and that's what this book did. So no, I don't recommend it but many seem to have liked it so you might too.
Profile Image for TK421.
551 reviews256 followers
April 15, 2013
Oh Harlan, you were exactly what I needed. But before I begin, let me say that this was my first Harlan Coben experience. I'll more than likely read more of his stuff. Bear with me as I explain myself.

Okay, the writing was nothing spectacular; there were even times when I winced as he described something by using the item. Example: The great oak stood like a, well, great oak. Yes, this type of writing appears more frequently than I liked, but the writing is really not an issue with this type of book. I say this type of book, not this type of genre (or other genres for that matter.)

What is really important here is the story. And, oh nelly, is this one a doozy. Striped down, THE WOODS is nothing more than a murder mystery. But Coben ratchets it up a bit, adds seemingly unrelated storylines and enough McGuffins to make even the best reader stumble on their way to the conclusion. (Sadly, I am not one of those fortunate readers that can say: “I figured it out by page such and such.”) There is Paul Copeland, the protagonist, county prosecutor for Essex County, a widower who has a daughter, and a relentless workaholic; then there is Lucy Gold, an alcoholic college professor with a dark secret. These two make up the main characters. The twenty or so other characters really only add flavor to the story. You see, twenty years ago, while at camp, four grisly murders took place, and Paul and Lucy have been haunted by these events ever since.

Now this is where Coben shines. Instead of playing it straight, Coben adds in storylines of charity fraud, missing persons, rape, politics, the KGB, and paranoia. Sounds convoluted. And it probably would be convoluted if Coben gave the reader a chance to breath, but he never does. The pace of the story doesn’t allow it. At break-neck speed, the narrative travels through numerous locales and characters to paint a mystery that is worth the five or six hours needed to read the book.

I will say that some of the scenes are corny, and Coben does do a bit of proselytizing when given the chance, but overall, this is a great way to let the written word entertain. Don’t seek deep messages or mind-blowing ideas in this novel—they aren’t there. And maybe some of the characters could have used a bit more time in the spotlight. But the plotting (and I’m not usually a stickler for plot) is fun and deftly executed.

Read this book for what it is: unabashed, over-the-top entertainment at its finest.

RECOMMENDED
Profile Image for Ioana.
274 reviews337 followers
July 2, 2015
Loved the story, but couldn't get over the blatant paternalistic "benevolent" misogyny and racism and the awful writing. Not sure what's worse, a macho yet sensitive and misunderstood cop who seems oblivious to issues of sex and race (most characters in the genre), or a macho yet sensitive misunderstood cop who presents himself as a social-justice advocate who isn't racist or sexist while commenting extensively on women's bodies, looks, and race in ways that go with the grain of every known stereotype.

See, Coben's Paul isn't "sexist"... he has a deep respect for women, which is why he introduces his beloved, helpful, intelligent sister-in-law as "the ugly sister"; he "prefers hiring single women of a certain age" (no kids = harder workers); that's why - "female beauty got to him, not because he was a pervert, it gets to him like a work of art gets to him"... you know, a work of art whose hair "begs to be touched". Because, obviously, women's bodies just beg to be touched. Paul isn't sexist, so it's not sexual harassment when he flirts with a highly accomplished lawyer from his office, telling her "her hot ass" might be the reason she was hired. (and on and on, the instances of him noticing more about women's bodies than he does about what they have to say are innumerable).

Paul also isn't racist, which is why he constantly refers to saving poor prostitute Black-woman "victim" and why he kicks out a bunch of Latinos from a bar by threatening them with comments such as: "People you accidentally bump into on the streets - they all better be legal"...

Yet had Coben not imbued his character with such a disdain for women dressed as adoration and with such a paternalistic attitude towards non-white people, The Woods would still be pretty awful for the writing, which is awkward and uninspired; worse, whenever Coben tries to say something remotely witty, it comes out sounding like this:
"[She] worked for an Indian restaurant called Curry Up and Wait. I hate pun titles. Or do I love them? Let's go with love." (um... okay.)
Profile Image for Stephanie.
138 reviews23 followers
June 4, 2021
This was my first Harlan Coben book and I thought it was just fabulous! I'm not huge into "mysteries" or "thrillers", but when I do sit down with one this is the type of story that has everything I want in a "page turner" - short chapters, quick dialog, twists and turns, and narration that was surprisingly funny at times (case in point, after annoying a police officer and a prosecutor both in a matter of hours the main character concludes, "I had itched an ass this morning and now I had burned a butt. A big day for me").

I have a pile of books waiting to be read and could easily grab one to take to bed with me tonight. Still, I think I'll wait until tomorrow when I can run out to the bookstore and pick up another gem Mr. Coben. He's definitely got me hooked!

Update: Looking back on this review, in 2021, it's hard to believe my claim about not loving mysteries or thrillers. Definitely two of my favorite genres!
Profile Image for Melisa.
324 reviews514 followers
July 23, 2016
Yep, Harlan Coben is officially the king of the twisty turns.

I'm completely amazed how he can weave such a fascinating mystery that can change directions nearly every chapter. Even until the very end. Well done, sir!

I also loved the witty dialogue. Some of the characters had me laughing out loud. And this subject matter was not light at all.

Such a page turner. 5 stars!
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,493 followers
April 19, 2017
More like a 2.5, but I've read one previous Coben book, and I liked it a lot more. The author can clearly do better.

I read this a month and a half ago, but I can barely remember any details. NOT a good sign!

Lemme see what I can recall... mmmm... There's something about a series of killings at a teen summer camp coming back to haunt one of the camp counsellors (who's now a county prosecutor) 2o years later. The KGB might be involved. Various people who were thought to be dead or killed might still be alive. Etc.

The plot just seemed overly convoluted – all at the expense of character depth. (Not that I mind convoluted plots in thrillers. There was a lot going on in Jo Nesbo's The Snowman, but I remember it and the characters a lot more vividly, even though I read it a year ago.)

Then again, I do remember chuckling a couple of times during The Woods. Coben's characters can be snarky.

But a couple of chuckles aren't enough. I'm not going to rush to read another Coben. I don't read many thrillers, but when I do, I kinda like them to be... ya know... thrilling. And I want to keep turning pages. Halfway through this book, I realized I didn't care who did what... or to whom.
Profile Image for Ben.
142 reviews4 followers
April 12, 2018

4.5 stars!


“It's not the dead even. It's what's left behind - the echo. These woods you're walking through. There are some old timers who think a sound echoes here forever. Makes sense when you think about it. That Billingham kid. I'm sure he screamed. He screams, it echoes, just bounces back and forth, the sound getting smaller and smaller, but never entirely disappearing. Like a part of his is still calling out, even now.”

I discovered the world of fiction through Harlan Coben's work. I remember myself as a bored 12 year old, rummaging through the adult section at our public library, feeling like an outlaw, a rascal. I remember picking up Coben's "Gone For Good" and I remember me devouring it, discovering profanity, incredible pacing and more that it all: gut wrenching adrenaline from an unending amount of suspense.

Ever since then Coben holds a special place in my heart.

Whenever I get stuck, not knowing what to read next (I'm waiting for my "Our Dark Duet" novel to arrive, see my review of the first book in the series here ) I scratch my head, go through my TBR pile and then I reach the inevitable conclusion: this is the time for another Coben novel.

The Woods was everything the makes Coben great.

In a world filled with cop shows and gory HBO specials, we have become accustomed that thrillers come hand in hand with death. How many novels are out there that follow the formula: dead body + psychotic killer + imperfect male detective are out there? And there nice don't get me wrong, but they lack in two areas:
a) I find them less suspenseful since we know in advance the good guy is going to win.
b) There's something so final about death, so sad and yet complete.

Coben's winning formula comes from the realization that hope is the most suspenseful thing out there. That's what makes disappearances so thrilling: there's this never-ending glimmer of hope in the back of your mind, constant and hurting – maybe one day they'll just open the doorway, and enter back into our lives.

We all care about our families. We all want them to be safe. Coben plays on those parts of our personality better then anyone else.

“We always seem to be on the eve of destruction. And we always seem to get through it. Maybe we all survive the destruction we have wrought.”

The Woods follows a man hunted by a twenty year old mystery: His sister and three friends entered derelict woods. Two bodies were discovered. Two, including his sister were not. He lives every day with the questions: What happened to her? Will I see her again?

I read this one in two sittings. Coben never stops to amaze me.


Until next time!
[Instagram]
Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,859 reviews1,376 followers
December 10, 2019
I’ve only read a few Harlan Coben books but I’ve enjoyed them all. He writes a good fast paced page turner that keeps you entertained and guessing throughout. This particular book is exactly that! Paul Copeland’s sister is one of four teenagers who go missing twenty years ago after going into the woods during a summer camp. Two of them are found murdered, the other two, including Paul’s sister are never found. Paul becomes a County Prosecutor and still seeking answers to his sisters disappearance. What unfolds is a very twisty and intriguing mystery which keeps you entertained and intrigued to the end. A very enjoyable and easy read.
Profile Image for Sana.
100 reviews55 followers
June 8, 2020
عالییی بود هنو داستان رو نتونستم هضم کنم مخصوصا اخراش💔
Profile Image for BrokenTune.
748 reviews200 followers
December 24, 2015
‘I don’t understand. What makes you so sure your sister is alive?’
‘I’m not sure,’ I said.
‘But I think there’s a decent enough chance.’
‘Why?’
‘Because of Manolo.’
‘What about him?’


Yes. What about him? What about any of them?

I don't know, but i'm not feeling this one. The Woods should be a gripping story but I just can't care for any of the characters. It's not that the writing is bad but the dialogues are making me feel sleepy. It's like the characters want to pretend that they are telling a story, but play act as if they cannot communicate anything to each other - and much less to me as a reader.

Nope. Not feeling this one.

DNF @ 40%
Profile Image for Emir Ibañez.
Author 1 book637 followers
November 26, 2018
Hace veinte años, en un campamento, cuatro adolescentes entraron en un bosque. Dos aparecieron muertos. Dos jamás aparecieron. En la actualidad, el hermano de una de los chicos desaparecidos recibe información que le hará volver a preguntarse qué pasó aquella noche. Es el segundo libro que leo de este autor y volvió a volarme la cabeza. Este tipo sabe escribir thrillers. Te engancha, no te deja ir, te revela datos a cada rato y no para de haber giros hasta, literalmente, la última página. Hubo muchas cosas que me disgustaron del protagonista pero... a la mierda, se lo perdono. Una de las mejores lecturas del año!
Profile Image for ✨Susan✨.
859 reviews173 followers
September 11, 2015
I love some of Harlan Coben's books but IMHO this was not one of his bests. I think it could have been told without a lot of the twists that turned out to not be twists at all, just page fillers. I was attached to the main character in the beginning but became separated from him as the story went along, a little too sappy for me. Would have been a great mystery if it had stuck closer to the main story line.
Profile Image for Lisa B..
516 reviews582 followers
July 4, 2019
4.5 stars. Thank you to my sweet friend Heather for sending me a copy of The Woods; it's my 1st Harlan Coben novel and it won't be my last.
Profile Image for Jean.
705 reviews20 followers
October 11, 2020
What would you do for someone you love? Would you lie? Would you violate your ethics? Would you steal? Would you betray those you love? Would you commit murder? In Harlan Coben’s standalone thriller, The Woods, Paul Copeland and those whom he encounters have done one or more of those things in the name of love – and self-preservation, of course.

Cope, as he is called, is a New Jersey county prosecutor. We get to see him in action as he prosecutes a couple of college guys accused of raping an exotic dancer at a fraternity party. I liked Cope, although I thought he acted like a sleazy attorney sometimes. By that I mean that occasionally his comments to others he encountered while in his professional role seemed a bit out of line. In the courtroom, he is pure genius.

Cope’s investigator, Loren Muse, is a real go-getter. She is likable, capable, and very efficient. Also, I loved her name, Muse. I never once saw her called “Loren.” It was always “Muse.” She admires her boss and is willing to go the extra mile for him. In this case, it involves investigating the 20-year-old cold case of the murder of his teenage sister Camille at a camp where he worked.

The bodies of two campers were found in the woods. Camille and another camper, Gil Perez, were never found, but they were presumed dead. A man was convicted of the murders and those of others in neighboring states. End of story? No. Paul still grieves, still wants answers. Where is his sister?

There are so many twists and turns. People lied. There were fibs, and there were whoppers. Some say that Paul lied and that his then girlfriend lied too. What is the real truth?

The plot is complex, and there are numerous characters, but I was able to follow it. I didn’t think all of the Old Country background contributed a lot, and it made the story rather confusing, but it provided a motive for more than one of the characters to act as they did. However, the overall effect of presenting many characters with their deeds and misdeeds was a mind-boggling, suspenseful narrative that held my interest from start to finish and left me feeling sort of wrung out at the end. I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Paul Copeland in a legal series with Muse. Maybe Lucy would return? It would be interesting to know...

4 stars
Profile Image for Debra .
2,130 reviews34.9k followers
November 10, 2016
This is the first Harlan Coben book that I have read. It will not be my last because I am preparing to binge read a bunch of his books! I read this over the course of two days and could not put it down. This became a page turner for me and I enjoyed the plot twists and turns. He keeps them coming until the very last page. Just when I thought I had this book figured out, he turned the tables and pulled another one out of his hat. Did I mention that I love this in a book?

Twenty years ago four teenagers go missing at a summer camp. Two are later found murdered in the Woods at the camp, two are never heard from again. What happened that summer? This book sounds like the perfect beginning of an 80's horror film. It's not a horror book but a mystery. A mystery where the truth is dying to come out.

Paul Copeland's older sister is on the missing teens who went into the woods and was never seen again. Now an adult, he is a widower with a young daughter. He is also the county prosecutor. He is working on a rape case where the father of one of the defendants is trying to use any means necessary to stop prosecuting his son.

During the stress of the trial and raising his daughter, the past comes out of nowhere and beings to haunt him. A body is found, a body from the past, a body with ties to him. Paul's past comes back to tap him on the shoulder and says "remember me"

Lucy, is a college professor, who has her students working on an anonymous journal. She begins receiving entries that are a blast from the past. Her father owned the summer camp where the teenagers went missing. She was Paul Copeland's girlfriend at the time. The journal entries detail events that happened in the woods - things only the killer would know.

Should the past be left in the past? Is it better to know the truth? Should we learn the secrets of others? What will someone do to protect the ones that they love?

I found this to be a very enjoyable mystery. I thought I had things figured out, then there is a twist, then a turn, then a revelation. There is so much going on in this book but it all works! I love a good mystery. Now on to my next Coben book!

see more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
Profile Image for Rob.
511 reviews103 followers
October 25, 2018
Harlan Coben is one those authors that be can relied upon to give you a guaranteed entertaining thrilling read. And The Woods is just that, a guaranteed, page turning, entertaining read.

The main protagonist, Paul Copeland, is a man who knows what success smells like. He also knows what it’s like to loose just about everyone he cares for.

Some twenty years ago Paul’s sister is brutal murder whilst on summer camp, a camp that Paul also attended. His mother walked out on the family not long after his sister’s death. His father died of a broken heart. And now Paul’s wife has just died of cancer leaving Paul to raise his young daughter on his own.

As for success, he is a young man on a fast track to the top of his profession. Currently he is the Essex County Prosecutor.

Paul is given the job of prosecuting two young white men, from wealthy families, for the brutal rape of a sixteen year old coloured girl. The families of the two boys make it plain to Paul that they will do what ever it takes to protect their sons. That protection found and opened a Pandora Box. What fell out of that box out will force Paul to re-think his entire life.

I am often disappointed in Mr. Cobens endings but not on this occasion. The end leaves the reader hanging, wanting more.

Highly recommended 4/5 stars.
Profile Image for Heena Rathore Pardeshi.
Author 1 book250 followers
August 18, 2014
This book literally blew my mind! It kept me guessing through all the 442 pages. Yes! That's right, suspense grips the reader till the very last page. In the beginning you feel that the book is only about a murderer who killed 4 kids in a summer camp but Hell No! Paul Copeland was in the dark about a lot of things, like stuff about his mother and father and Ira and Lucy. The entire story gets twisted towards the end. The twists and turns are really unexpected and makes you want to read the book in one go.

The Woods is a brilliant read! As this was my first Harlan Coben Book, I wasn't expecting much, but after reading it, I have added a lot of his books in my TBR list.
Jeez, you have to read it to experience the thrill. According to me it's a must read!
Profile Image for Alex.andthebooks.
213 reviews1,632 followers
July 29, 2021
3.5 ⭐️

Generalnie jest to świetny, wciągający i klimatyczny thriller, mimo, że po polskim serialu znam niemal cały zarys fabuły i wszystkie zwroty akcji. Absolutnie nie przeszkadzało mi to w zagłębieniu się w tę mroczną historię.

I wszystko byłoby dobrze, gdyby główny bohater nie był takim irytującym seksistą. Seriously, jego komentarze wobec kobiet były tak zbędne i momentami nie na miejscu… niemal całkowicie psuły ogólny odbiór lektury.
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