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on 25 September 2007
Paul Copeland is good at what he does and as a prosecutor for the County it's pretty important that this is the case. His current case is to try and convict two rich students who used their influence to rape a poor stripper. Unfortunately for Copeland one of the father's will do anything to protect his son so he sends out PIs to investigate Copeland's past. Over 20 years before Copeland was a suspect in the murder of four teenagers in a wood. Could his recent case cause the past to be unearthed?

'The Woods' is a fast paced and fun thriller that contains some of Coben's favourite themes e.g. the past, lost loves etc. Although in many ways it is similar to other books that he has written I still enjoyed the book as he is able to convey great emotion in his characters and get you liking them instantly. I recommend this to anyone who likes an easy to read thriller.
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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2007
You think you have it all worked out and then along comes another twist which leaves you guessing again - and this is true of the plot to the last page.
The theme of the past is not new but it is familiar to life in that the past has a habit of resurfacing.
I liked the conflicting personality traits of the central character - Paul Copeland - strong in his sense of justice and basically a good friend and father but weak in personal traumas. This makes him more human - more alive.
The style of writing is emotional at times but full of suspense - I found it difficult to put this down.
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on 3 March 2008
Another reviewer and I commented on the same book (dreadful piece of "writing" called Severed) and we disagreed on it somewhat, and on his recommendation I read this, my first Coben novel. I totally owe him a beer, because The Woods is fantastic.

The term "unputdownable" is used a lot (and horrible grammar), but this book really is. Unputdownable, that is. The grammar is top-notch. It's also funny. That came as a very pleasant surprise. The lead character, Paul "Cope" Copeland is a marvellously sardonic fellow, and in several places throughout, he has a few one-liners which made me laugh out loud.

The style of writing initially threw me a little. Coben is a fan of brief sentences; he often strings together 6 or 7 of them that only contain 3 or 4 words. It reads as a pot-boiler in some respects, and at first I found it incongruous. But as you begin to understand his characters more, you see that the rapid-fire dialogue and sentence structure fits perfectly.

All of his characters are extremely likeable and 3-dimensional, which is a feat considering how many of them there are. Even the bit-players of the piece are intriguing. For example, there is a coroner/pathologist called Tara O'Neill who features in only 2 scenes, but she's absolutely fascinating. (In fact, I'd rather like to see a book solely about her.)

The twists aren't quite as twisty as I expected. But, actually, for a good reason. The story is so involving, and the reader so drawn in, I spent time thinking up every possibility, such was my intrigue. So, when one of those possibilities turned out to be what happens next, I was a little let down. But that's not the fault of the author. It's my own. Pondering every conceivable answer is akin to reading the back of the book first. Terrible bookiquette.

It's also a jolly nice love story, on two levels. Primarily about re-discovering a lost love. How many of us have wondered what's become of our very first love? Would we still connect? Would we fall in love all over again were we to meet? These are questions dealt with extensively in The Woods, and it's rich material.

But it's also a love story in terms of family. Virtually every single chatacter in this book does something inconceivable in order to protect a family member. I imagine family is something that is desperately important to the author, and his love of family, as a structure, has translated itself consistently on these pages. Family is at the very heart of The Woods. It's also the veins, arteries and gloopy bits.

So while this is, ostensibly, a rip-roaring thriller (one which, incidentally, has no bad language whatsoever, and is none the poorer for that) it is mostly about family and how important it is.

The Woods is an excellent piece of writing, and am now biting at the bit to read everything he's ever written. I don't care if it's graffiti on walls - it'd probably still be brilliant.
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on 12 June 2007
...... when I see a new Harlan Cobden book in the shops, I know it's time to buy in some ready-to-eat meals for the family cos I'm checking out of this reality and into a different one.

I find it fascinating how 'normal' these people are in the light of their extraordinary pasts, the fact that they can get hurt, can bleed, make mistakes - they are real. I really enjoyed it, and it's a keeper along with all the other Harlan Cobden's on my shelf.

If you are a fan of Myron, no this might not be for you - it is a totally different 'world' if you like, but nevertheless the class of writing remains stellar and I heartily recommend it to you.
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on 25 May 2007
Paul "Cope" Copeland has more than a few monkeys riding on his back. Not all of them relate to his past; his chosen career of county prosecutor doesn't always make him everyone's best friend and there are always going to be those that take offense to his stance in the court room. There has been a lot to overcome for Cope and he questions whether he is really holding his head about water every day. A single parent, Cope has to rely heavily on the family of his deceased wife to look after his six year old daughter when his job goes crazy, and it frequently does. This isn't always comfortable, but it has been necessary.

Taking the case to prosecute two teenage "party" rapists, Cope is aware that his client isn't the type to wring the tears out of the jurors when she is up there on the stand. The father of one of the accused is the local big man about town, not at all happy with Cope's decision to pursue criminal charges against his son. A little pressure here, a few veiled threats, and Cope is backed into a corner. The whole town knows about his past; brother to a girl who disappeared at summer camp when the teenage Cope was supposed to have been keeping watch, and that his family life disintegrated in the aftermath. Four teenagers went into the woods that day; two of were found murdered and Cope's sister vanished, along with her boyfriend Gil Perez. Suspicion was once on Cope and perhaps it has never really been lifted. Called out of his daughter's school acrobatic competition by two snarly cops, Cope is taken to view the body of a murdered man who was found with clippings of the camp disappearances on his person. Not only that, the man has a ring that Cope recognises in an instant. It belonged to his sister Camille.

Events begin to crash down on Paul Copeland, and it is once again the story of an "everyman" who must become his own detective and rise to the challenge. Sidelining Cope's narrative is Lucy's, (third person) who was Cope's girlfriend way back then, and daughter to the man who ran the summer camps in their youth. The two narratives work well in tandem, each doing what is necessary to provide the background information about their shared tragic past.

Harlan Coben is known for his one sitting thrillers, and IN THE WOODS provides no exception to this. What it lacks is some of the emotional punch and that ability to have the reader agonizing over what is going to fall upon the earnest protagonist next. Coben's characters are those good guys that you want to see succeed and perhaps a little cookie cutter in that respect, and so the character of Paul Copeland comes across as a bit too vanilla flavoured in this latest work.

Only if you compared THE WOODS to the work of Harlan Coben would you find it midline, this is a fast and furious read by the most popular thriller writer out there today. Coben's novel is not any more cerebrally challenging than the priors but contains all the ingredients you would expect; the ordinary guy forced to become a hero, the suspicious cops, puzzles from the past, a touch of romance, the murk of a family mystery. The pages will fly and everything is resolved as it should be.

Makes you wonder if Coben was thinking of "Teddy Bears Picnic" with this title? There was always menace in the lyrics.
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on 26 January 2016
So many people have reviewed this book and given details of its content, that I
will not repeat it. In my opinion, the book could have been reduced to at least two-thirds
as there was a lot of padding. I was not interested in the music and songs that the characters
enjoyed because it reminded them of their first love, etc. etc. I found I was skipping whole
paragraphs to get to the next section of interest.

There were several story lines and I didn't think all of them were necessary. There was a lot of
repetition - was the sister dead or wasn't she?// why did the mother leave 20 years ago?// did one
of the boys escape the murders 20 years ago and if so, where had he been all this time? etc. etc.

Added to that there were a lot of court room scenes which I personally find boring - "objection your Honour"
"sustained/overuled" and so on. I have read other Coben books, but have now deleted him from my list
of authors I want to read. I think I have been more than fair in giving this book 3 stars.
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on 31 August 2007
Be prepared to be glued to your seat throughout much of the time you spend reading Harlan Coben's latest thriller, The Woods. The primary plot pertains to an incident that occurred twenty years ago, in which two teens were found murdered and two others were never seen again after they walked into the woods near their summer camp. This plot has many twists, turns and surprises. The subplot involves the trial being prosecuted by Paul Copeland -- a county prosecutor and one of the four teens involved in the camp incident -- of an African-American woman who claims to have been raped by some rich white male students while attending a fraternity party (sound familiar -- Duke?, lacrosse players?). Coben weaves his main plot and interesting subplot together in a manner that will keep the pages flying through your fingers and in a way that will cause you to lose all track of time. And he has developed characters that are real enough to care about, even with their weaknesses. Are their some implausibilities. Sure, there are -- but they in no way detract from this very entertaining and suspenseful book. While I usually agree with reviews by Publishers Weekly, in this case I strongly do not. I'm much more in agreement with the Library Journal review. Do yourself a favor and get a copy of The Woods, and then settle in for a real fun reading experience.
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on 29 January 2008
Easy style, gripping to the end, read inside 2 days - all 440 pages!
this is a new genre for me, moving away from Forbes and Cornwell. Based upon this novel, I will be playing catch up on Corben's other works.
I would strongly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a murder, mystery suspense or like myself is ready for a change of novel style.
Well done Coben!
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on 14 April 2009
On the face of it this is another well written and trademark entry from the ever consistent Harlan Coben. But that is too do it an injustice. This is by far his best book and cleverest creation. The simple tale of an unsolved murder at a summer camp that haunts those close to the victim for the remainder of their lives is simple enough, but the genius lies in how Coben reveals each new element and winds the various character stories, lies and personal involvement into the story.

He refuses to tell a simplelinear story, breaking it down so that each character plays a role in revealing and hiding the truth. A briliant holiday read, even better for the commuter.

Its excellent.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 October 2014
Wow! This is more than just an excellent thriller; it is so literate and insightful that it could be a classic of the future - one of those books that every well-read person will be able to talk about. It is so much better than many other books that I've given five stars that I wish I could give it six stars.
Paul Copeland is a Jewish-American of Russian extraction, a public prosecutor with political ambitions. He is also an honest man. When a prostitute is raped by two college students, he is determined to get justice for her. He finds himself in a battle in which his own deepest feelings and the secrets of his family are caught up. It looks as if this battle will cost him everything he has ever valued...
Coben's tough-talking, wisecracking style is occasionally corny, but mostly luminous and sometimes rather beautiful. The book has two strands - one told by Copeland in the first person and a third-person narrative about Lucy, his lost love. This enables Coben to keep up the action and suspense to the last page, in a story that involves Russian emigres, the KGB, a serial murderer, prostitution, politics, family secrets and obsessive love. It is complex and its bittersweet ending leaves one reflecting on the complexities of life itself. Brilliant!
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