“In a Dark Dark Wood” by Ruth Ware

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I’m 28. I’m at the age where most of my friends have recently gotten engaged or married, or are on their way. So bachelorette parties have been on regular rotation as of late. I’ve been to D.C., Ocean City, and Atlantic City and will be heading to Charlottesville in a few weeks, all in the name of penis straws, bride-to-be sashes, shots of Fireball, and “Never Have I Ever.” Maybe that is why I enjoyed In a Dark Dark Wood  so much, because I felt that I could somewhat relate. Although, thankfully, none of my recent bachelorette adventures have included a murder.

In a Dark Dark Wood begins with Nora/Lee/Lenora receiving a random invitation to her long lost BFF Clare’s hen party (British for bachelorette.) She can’t get a feel for why she was invited, but after talking to another mutual friend decides there’s no hurt in going. The hen party gathers in an almost fully glass cabin in the middle of the woods, ready to celebrate bride-to-be away from civilization.

Nora can’t admit to the group that she hasn’t spoken to Clare in over ten years, she isn’t invited to the wedding, and she doesn’t even know who Clare is marrying, without ruining the illusion that she and Clare are blissfully reunited in the name of love and everlasting friendship.

The book alternates between scenes of tequila shots and bumps of cocaine, and Nora in the aftermath in a hospital bed, no memory of the two nights prior. I enjoyed the flipping back and forth, I felt that it added to the suspense and whodunit appeal.

A story of murder, marriage rituals and dark jealous friendships, In a Dark Dark Wood will keep you on the edge of your seat as a quick, thrilling read.

3.75/5 stars.

Eeeny Meeny by M.J. Arlidge

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I’ve recently gotten into crime stories, mysteries and thrillers, and M.J. Arlidge is a fantastic new breakout author on the scene. His books follow DI (Detective Inspector, for us Americans) Helen Grace as she leads her police unit through gruesome crimes and battles her own inner demons. There are currently four books in the series, with a fifth releasing stateside next month. I’m working on catching up so I’m ready to read the newest installment when it comes out. So far, two down, two to go.

Eeny Meeny opens with a ghastly scene that grabs your attention right from page one. A couple awakes in an unfamiliar setting, held in captivity, with no way out. They have no food, no water, nothing to keep them warm; a cell complete bare, except for a gun. A phone rings and tells the couple that only one of them will make it out alive–the only way for one to escape is to kill the other. Hooked yet? Yeah, I was too. I was also having nightmarish flashbacks of Saw, but luckily this book never gets quite that gorey.

Similar situations begin popping up all over the city, and DI Grace’s team finds themselves hunting a serial killer who never actually does the killing himself. Along the way, skeletons from DI Grace’s past begins to pop up, a past she has worked hard at burying. She fights to keep her life from interfering with her work, but soon finds it all completely interwoven.

I thought the storyline was exceptionally dark and twisted, the kind that makes you think “what is wrong with this author????” in the best way possible. However, it also never veered into wildly unbelievable territory and stayed fairly realistic (cue, extra creepy.) It did take me some time to figure out the UK vocabulary. After lots of Googling British police lingo and abbreviations, I was able to match the characters up with who would be their equivalent in Law & Order SVU, and finally started to finally understand who was who in the investigative ranks.

I really enjoyed this book, have already finished its sequel, Pop Goes the Weasel, and plan to read The Doll’s House as soon as I can get my hands on a free library copy. This series isn’t for the faint of heart, but I would recommend for someone looking to get into a new, fresh crime collection.

4 out of 5 stars.