The word hen is all it took. The English mot for bridal shower led author Ruth Ward to devise a twisted “hen party plot” for her first suspense novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood. Set in an eerie glass house in the midst of a secluded English forest, this 2017 beach read will keep you biting your nails to the bitter end. Reclusive Leonora and a group of friends old and odd gather reluctantly in a secluded vacation house for a hen weekend in honour of Clare, an ex-classmate they may (or may not) like. The weekend’s mix of Ouija board games, tequila shooters, and clay pigeon shooting parties (remember, this is England) stirs up a suspenseful concoction of old grudges, frightening bridezillas, and mistrust. Matters are made worse when (oh my!) the wifi fails and the landlines are cut. Soon Nora and her mates are suspects in a murder case. The author’s hand in plotting is uneven and some characters are oddly drawn. Still, in the vein of The Girl on the Train, Ruth Ward’s In a Dark, Dark Wood keeps the guessing game going like any true English whodunit should. It’s worth a read on a Muskoka dock in Summer 2017… at least until the movie comes out.
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