Thanks to Netgalley, the author and publishers for the ARC to review.
Here’s what the official blurb says:
There is a sickness in the forest. First, it was the wild horses. Now it’s innocent men and women, hunted down and murdered by a faceless figure. Lost in the darkness, they try to flee, they try to hide. In desperation, they call out for help. But there is no-one to hear their cries here…
DI Helen Grace must face down a new nightmare. The arrow-ridden victims hang from the New Forest’s ancient oaks, like pieces of strange fruit. Why are helpless holidaymakers being targeted in peak camping season? And what do their murders signify? Is a psychopath stalking the forest? Is there an occult element to the killings? Could the murders even be an offering to the Forest itself? Helen must walk into the darkness to discover the truth behind her most challenging, most macabre case yet.
Ok, starting to read this at 11.30pm was not my best idea! First of all those short sharp chapters meant I immediately succumbed to that “just one more chapter” scenario and secondly that initial scene in the forest scared the living daylights out of me!
This one certainly had the “spook factor” for me and I found myself a little bit, ok then a BIG bit afraid as I was reading it! That whole feeling of being hunted through the dark woods gave me the heebies!
I love Helen Grace and that internal conflict she has got going on. She has a real need for solitude and privacy but we can see her need for human contact is becoming more of an issue to her and this time around I felt a real sense of loneliness from her character. She is not as “harsh” in character as in previous novels and while this doesn’t mean she has become softer as the series develops it is an interesting dimension added to her character this time around.
DS Hudson is the latest recruit to the team replacing DS Joanne Sanderson. I couldn’t quite make my mind up about him; there was something about him that just triggered a sense of uneasinesses. He certainly has got under Helen’s skin! Was I right to feel this way? Well, you will just need to read it and see!
DS Charlie Brooks is one of my favourite characters in the series, in this novel, her sense of anxiety at the investigation hints very much to the dark and macabre nature of the plot, it helps provide the reader with a similar sense of unease. Charlie has her own personal issues to deal with in this book as her daughter is struggling with night terrors and she is trying to get to the bottom of it all. Meanwhile, her relationship with her husband is a little bit shaky as both appear to want very different things from their future.
Emilia Garanita is the journalist who will not take no for an answer when it comes to getting her story and when she sniffs out the death in the woods she is on it like a shot. She is a nasty piece of work who thinks nothing of manipulating the truth to get her story and we watch as she reels in each person connected to the murders. What a brilliant “baddy” the author has created in Emilia, she had me wanting to reach into the pages and rattle her!
The plot was definitely dark and it was most certainly macabre! Twists, turns and a sea of red herrings kept me hooked from the start to finish! It isn’t action packed nor “in your face” but rather it brings you slowly to the boil, leaves you to simmer and lights you right back up again! Perfect in a psychological thriller with an added twist of police procedural!
Down to the Woods is available to purchase from: