The Mystery, Crime, and Thriller Group discussion

Historical Group Reads > Oct/Nov 2010: The Woods - Harlan Coben

Comments Showing 1-35 of 35 (35 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 51 comments Alrighty folks, start those reading engines and settle in with this months Halloween read: The Woods by Harlan Coben.

I will be back at 00:00 central time on the 15th of Oct with your first set of questions.

Happy reading

message 2: by Alex (new)

Alex | 18 comments Wait, I thought the book was going to be Ashes to Ashes.

message 3: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
That's the other one... two books this month!

message 4: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 51 comments Yep two books this month, one in the Halloween category and one in a the regular mystery category,

Halloween: The Woods - Harlan Coben
Regular: Ashes to Ashes - Tami Hoag

I finished The Woods last night, can't wait to start discussing it with everybody

message 5: by Linda (new)

Linda B (brknhrt) I am so excited. This was one of my long requested books on bookmooch and I just received a copy of The Woods this week!.

message 6: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) I can't believe I actually found my copy ... it was on the bookcase where it belonged!

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Just ordered my copy, so I hope to join in on the discussion any time soon. I chose this read from the two for the coming month - I've been wanting to try Coben for a long time and never got to it so far.

message 8: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 51 comments Off to write your first 2-3 questions. The questions will be geared towards about the first 1/4th of the book. There will be another 2-3 questions on the 22nd, 29th, 5th and 12th...each focusing on their respective 1/4th of the book. I will assist you with the chapters will we be focusing on and not pages because my copy is an ebook and not all books are alike.

General discussion can also go on, just remember to label any and all spoilers clearly. Example ::SPOILER:: or anything that will get the point across that people should tread lightly. A lot of the thrill of this book is the surprise who and what!

message 9: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 51 comments Phew, a little later than I hoped. My father-in-law is doing a chili-cook off/challenge thing tomorrow and he asked me to carve a pumpkin for his table...I don't take any craft lightly. If you want I will post a few pictures of the result sometime.

A warning now I am really interesting in criminal justice and psychology so quite a few of my questions will be geared towards that aspect. I will try to keep them at a minimum but that is how books process in my head.

Here are your first 2-3 questions for The Woods by Harlan Coben

This weeks focus will be on Prologue to end of Chapter 9

You can answer one or two or all or none

1) Chapter 1 - "You think the guilty ones would be climbing walls, but for the most part, it was the opposite. The innocent one get the most antsy and nervous. They have no idea why they are there or what the police mistakenly think they've done. The guilty often go to sleep."
Do you think this observation from Cope holds true?

2) Chapter 1 - "He was dubbed the Summer Slasher - an all too obnoxious moniker"
In the Criminal Justice and Psychology world there is a lot of talk about the giving of nicknames to serial killers and how it effects their ego, how the public feels about them, how it effects the case? We can tell that Cope feels annoyed by the label given to our presumed suspect of the four killings in the woods, how do they make your feel? Can you see any negative or positive effects from them?

3) We meet two characters directly affected by the happenings that night in the woods in the first quarter of the book. What were your first impressions of Copeland and Lucy? Are they dynamic characters, flat characters? Was there anything about them that you disliked? Liked?

Remember this are just questions to spark your thought processes, please feel free to go on any tangent you would like but please try to keep them to about the first quarter of the book. This way we can cut down on spoilers and those who aren't strong readers won't feel like they have to race through the book. That was something I always disliked in English class.

message 10: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
Hi Katrina,

First of all, I am really enjoying this book. It's the first book by Coben that I've read.

I'll start with your first question because that observation by Cope made me pause too when I read it. My first thought was no it has to be the other way around but the more I thought about it I’m not so sure. The panic and disbelief that an innocent person, especially someone who has not had much interaction with the police, might feel would certainly make them nervous and antsy.

I am a little less sure that the guilty would actually fall asleep unless they have really given up and they are resigned to being arrested but I could certainly see someone trying to put on a calm and cooperative manner hoping they would seem less guilty.

message 11: by Linda (new)

Linda B (brknhrt) For question 1, I do believe the innocent would be more uncomfortable under interrigation. The criminals at least think they know how to work the system.

Question 2 - I guess it is the press that sticks these criminals with nicknames. Recently we had the "Bee killer" in Illinois, because the killer engaged his victim in a conversation about beekeeping. It makes them sound like a cartoon characters instead of the vicious killers they are.

3. I like Copeland, but Lucy and Lonnie were almost enough for me to close the book and put it away. Lucy is going to have to transform for me to even care what happens to her.

message 12: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 51 comments Linda wrote: "For question 1, I do believe the innocent would be more uncomfortable under interrigation. The criminals at least think they know how to work the system.

Question 2 - I guess it is the press ..."

Yeah, with a name like the "Bee Killer", I was thinking he went around and killed bees...and I was like...AND??? Yeah, if someone made a living on bees I could see how that was bad, but wow scary.

I also felt Lucy was one of the weakest characters in the book, I did end up warming more up to her later on after we learn some more about her past but still I didn't really like her until much later on when there is a pretty big turn of events.

message 13: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
While Cope is obviously the main character in this book there is quite a large cast of characters and I think that is always a challenge for an author. How do you develop all these different people and how much development is needed but not make the story too long. Maybe this is why mystery writers end up writing series.

message 14: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 11 comments Linda wrote: "For question 1, I do believe the innocent would be more uncomfortable under interrigation. The criminals at least think they know how to work the system.

Question 2 - I guess it is the press ..."

For question two, I feel like maybe we do this, label monstrous people like this with often alliterative and short monikers, for the public benefit. Since we don't have a name for them, they are an unknown entity-something beyond our control. But when we have a name, even better when it's a bit silly (Bee Killer), it takes away that fear that comes with the unknown and allows us the perception that we have some control over the horrific situation.

As for question 1, I am certain both innocent and guilty parties would be anxious, but I feel like the innocent person would talk like the Niagara falls coming out of their mouth to try to clear up the confusion, where a guilty person would answer questions, but not volunteer more information than necessary.

I'll have to get to the third question later when I'm a bit farther in the book.

Good discussion so far!

message 15: by James (new)

James Thane (jameslthane) | 123 comments It seems logical to me too that an innocent person who has no experience whatsoever being caught up in the criminal justice system would be more likely to be sweating bullets and climbing the walls after only a few minutes alone in an interview room. A career criminal who does have this experience would be more likely to know how the game is played and would more likely understand that it's all just part of the dance.

I agree with Linda regarding question number two. Historically the media have tagged serial killers and others with these nicknames, usually as a means of attracting attention to their (the media's) coverage in the hope of getting people to buy newspapers or watch their newscasts or whatever.

I actually like the interaction between Lucy and Lonnie. At this point I'm reserving judgement regarding the Lucy character until we get a bit further into the book to see how the character develops.

message 16: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 51 comments I am glad I got you all thinking. I know I am supposed to have a few more questions up this week but I think I may wait a few days until this cold clears from my head. I can't think straight. Keep on keeping on!

message 17: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
I've been mulling over the nickname question and I can see where the media needs to do something to keep readers attention. It would get cumbersome to keep referring to "the person or persons who are killing/stabbing/robbing young women/senior citizens/joggers etc" and Summer Slasher or Bee Killer becomes a catchy shorthand that also fits headlines.

On the negative side, I would imagine that the use of a nickname could also play into the ego of some criminals. Regardless of whether they liked the name or not the increased "fame" even if anonymously can be a thrill for them.

I think that Cope was annoyed with the Summer Slasher nickname because the focus of all the attention was on the killer and not on the victims.

message 18: by L.J. (new)

L.J. (ljsellers) | 17 comments I read this book last year and loved it.

I think the observations about the innocent being more anxious and the guilty "falling asleep" are pretty accurate. The guilty are often some level of sociopath and therefor experience little guilt.

I have to say, I didn't like Lucy very much.

As for criminal nicknames...they're expedient for law enforcement and the media. I just wish the nicknames were all humiliating for the criminals, like the Underwear Bomber. The best punishment of all for him.:)
The Sex Club
Secrets to Die For
Thrilled to Death
Passions of the Dead:

message 19: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 444 comments I have to say, I didn't like Lucy very much.

I read this a few years ago and while I remember the overall arc I don't remember much of the details. I went in search of a review with spoilers, which helped bring it back.

I do, however remember that I did not much like Lucy, which for me makes an uncomfortable reading exerience as she is a primary character and it didn't take long for me to envision her as an eventual romantic partner for Cope, and I wasn't so sure I wanted that to happen.

message 20: by Laura (new)

Laura Just fininshed the book last night, and I have to say, the farther I got into it, the harder it was to put it down. I didn't particularly like Lucy either, but maybe we weren't supposed to. I have no problem with a primary character who is not necessarily likeable. I enjoyed Paul's narrative, and really liked Muse.

message 21: by James (new)

James Thane (jameslthane) | 123 comments I confess that by the end of the book I found Lucy to be a little grating too. SPOILER ALERT: I also found it hard to accept the fact that after so many years apart there would still be this immediate great attraction between Cope and Lucy in the wake of what was only a brief summer fling when they were kids. Like Laura, though, I really did like the Muse character.

What bothered me most about this book, however, and what I find increasingly irritating about Coben's books, is that when you get to the end of them anymore there always seems to be about one or two too many implausible plot twists. It's like the guy just can't help himself; he has to throw another one into the mix before he lets go of the book.

Ultimately, I liked the book, but I think it would have been better if Coben hadn't been straining so much at the end to pull one more surprise out of the hat. In particular, I really don't think he needed to send Cope back to visit the serial killer a second time and then end the book on such an ambiguous note.

message 22: by Donna, Co-Moderator (new)

Donna | 2178 comments Mod
Hi James, Regarding Cope and Lucy, overall I would have to agree that the return of the great attraction this many years on is a bit of a stretch except for the fact that they have been dropped back into a situation which only they can completely understand. I guess I can see it happening but I would doubt it would last.

Since this was the first Coben I've read I can't say it always happens but I did think there were a few more twists at the end than absolutely necessary.

message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

Laura wrote: "Just fininshed the book last night, and I have to say, the farther I got into it, the harder it was to put it down. I didn't particularly like Lucy either, but maybe we weren't supposed to. I have..."

Carol/Bonadie wrote: "I have to say, I didn't like Lucy very much.

it's a lot like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc etc... have to plow thru the first 100 pages or so to really begin to get interested in the least, that was my experience! Liam

I read this a few years ago and while I remember the overall arc I don't remember much of the details. I went in search of a review with spoilers..."

message 24: by Tobey (new)

Tobey | 3 comments I started this on Monday and am really enjoying it - its my first Coben novel!

1. Not having ever been hauled in for questioning by the police, I can imagine being nervous. But repeat criminals falling asleep? I'm not sure about that? Wouldn't they perhaps be nervous too because they also don't know what they've been hauled in for? Sure, its for a crime the committed but which one? This might lead them to some thinking.

2. I'm on Chapter 24 and so far, I like Cope. I question his relationship with Cara. It seems strained to me. As for Lucy, I don't have a serious dislike for her yet though I'm very curious as to who wrote the anonymous journal entry.

I can totally see their attraction being reignited. There was no real closure in what was obviously quite a dramatic situation. Sometimes those feelings never die completely.

message 25: by Linda (new)

Linda B (brknhrt) Finished the book and enjoyed it, but I never did warm up to the character of Lucy. I thought a couple of the side plots were odd, but overall I enjoyed it.

message 26: by Karendenice (new)

Karendenice L.J. I didnt get a vhance to read this book. However, I ABSOLUTELY LOVE your idea about giving the bad guys humiliating names.

message 27: by L.J. (new)

L.J. (ljsellers) | 17 comments It might deter those who are seeking public attention. And since we know the press can't ignore them, why not shame them?

message 28: by Margarete (new)

Margarete | 3 comments I really liked this book, and I liked the plot twists. But what I really hated: SPOILER: is the very ending. Why does he have to have Cope be so rightous? So Lucy had a part in it. Everyone did. It would have been so much better without the last page. There is nothing wrong with being human.

message 29: by Barbara (new)

Barbara (cinnabarb) | 8453 comments I just started The Woods yesterday and am enjoying it so far. I'm not going to read the previous posts because a lot of them are marked "spoilers".....bur I look forward to joining the discussion when I get further along.

message 30: by Barbara (last edited Nov 13, 2010 05:45AM) (new)

Barbara (cinnabarb) | 8453 comments I've finished The Woods and overall I enjoyed it a lot. It was engrossing, kept my attention, and I didn't get the urge to skip large portions of the book (which is usually a given for me).

I agree with many of the above comments.

To address the questions: Many police procedurals that I've read say that guilty suspects are calm and innocent ones are nervous. I don't know if this is because it's true or because the authors copy from each other. If it was me, innocent or guilty, I'd be very anxious.

I think nick-naming serial killers occurs because people want a quick, easy way to identify someone. It's easier (and catchier) to say the "summer slasher" than the "serial killer who murders kids in summer camps." Unfortunately, the killer probably does get a kick out of having a nickname.

As far as the characters go I liked Cope and Muse the best. I especially liked Muse because she's a little spitfire who gets results.


I hated Lonnie and thought there should have been more severe consequences for his role in the journal episode.

I didn't like Lucy but I didn't dislike her either until the end. It did put me off that she had a role in the tragedy; sorry Margarete :(
I did pretty much believe that Lucy and Cope could be attracted to each other after all those years. They were both good-looking, had a history with each other, so why not?

I was put off by Raya Singh (the fake waitress in the Indian restaurant). When Cope first met her she asked him a lot of nosy questions that were inappropriate. Cope asked her if she knew Gil, etc. and Raya responded by asking Cope if he was the person who murdered Gil. What witness asks this of a prosecutor? Wouldn't Cope have been suspicious immediately that she wasn't what she was pretending to be? Was Cope so awed by her beauty that he completely lost his common sense? maybe the male readers can weigh in on whether this is likely or not :)

Another thing that bothered me was the lengths the rapist's dad would go to so his guilty kid wouldn't be convicted of his crime. Sending detectives to Russia to unearth dirt on the prosecutor's (Cope's) grandfather? And trying to blackmail the judge as well? This type of plot device seems to be popular among some authors of mystery/suspense novels but to me it's often so over the top that it takes me right out of the story. I keep saying to myself "this would never happen."

I didn't like that Cope let his brother-in-law, Bob, get away with stealing from the charity. All through the book Cope is a "people have to be punished for their crimes" type of guy. And then Cope wimped out when it came to his own family. Typical bureaucratic corruption!

Like several other people I thought there were a few too many plot twists toward the end. I don't like when the resolution of a book is so complex it's unbelievable.

message 31: by Carol (new)

Carol | 152 comments I have finished the book which was my first by Coben. I like Cope and the narration is very easy to read. It moved quickly for me and towards the end I couldn't put it down.

I wanted more information on Lonnie and how his involvement was resolved. I did believe that a relationship like that can be rekindled, but Lucy was not a totally likeable character. That's fine with me. Everyone involved in the tragedy had a reason to feel guilty, but none of them, except Wayne Steubens thought it was going to be more than an innocent prank.

I was at first disappointed with the ending in terms of Lucy and Cope, but after I thought about it, it grew on me. Perhaps Lucy can now face her guilt and get her life together. She and Cope will have to see if they can work through that together. Maybe she won't feel the need to drink now that she has dealt with her demons. Life is messy, isn't it?

I liked that Cope tried to help his BIL by saying he "may have" said he could borrow money from the charity. He was a very black and white thinker when it came to guilt and innocence. The whole unraveling of the mystery helped him to see that people aren't always just good or just evil. They are complicated. When Cope bends his rules to help Bob and save his family the suffering, he seems like he's realized this complexity of character we all possess.
I got a kick out of the "hotties" investigators. Fun sideline there, I thought.
I loved Muse. I almost wish that Cope and Muse would end up together.
Great read folks! I will read another of Coben's books. Any suggestions?

message 32: by James (new)

James Thane (jameslthane) | 123 comments In addition to his stand-alone thrillers, Coben writes a series with a sports agent named Myron Bolitar who winds up investigating crimes with his best friend, Win and with the help of a rather bizarre office staff. I think the books are a lot of fun and would recommend starting with the first,, Deal Breaker. His first stand-alone, and still one one of his best, I think, is Tell No One.

message 33: by Hayes, Co-Moderator (new)

Hayes (hayes13) | 2060 comments Mod
Thanks to Katrina for leading the discussion this month. The thread will remain open, so you can join the discussion at any time.

message 34: by Louisa (new)

Louisa | 8 comments I haven't enjoyed this book nearly as much as 'Tell No One' which I loved, I found it a little bit to run of the mill and it didn't really stir the emotions a great deal. It has put me off slightly from reading any of his others and I didn't find it at all scary as a Halloween read.

message 35: by Martha (new)

Martha (marthas48) I enjoyed it, but didn't see it as a Halloween read either. Just a good mystery. I'll have to read Tell No One.

back to top