In a Dark, Dark Wood is about the psychology of friendships and a mystery (of sorts) about revenge. And I give Ware credit for coming up with an interesting scenario. Where I object is that the mystery portion waits far too late to get started. By the time it does, I had already grown bored with the dynamics of the hen party for Clare’s wedding. These 20-something women (and man) acted more like 16-year-olds than professionals. Not one of them is particularly likable. My biggest objection, however, is the many coincidences Ware relies on to get herself out of a plot that doesn’t always work.
So why a three-star rating? I didn’t hate the premise. But the measure for me of a really suspenseful read is whether I’m compelled to keep reading well into the night, even when I should be sleeping for work the next day. I read this one over a weekend, and still found myself putting it down at regular intervals because I was losing interest. I think my biggest disappointment is how many “Best of the Year” lists included this one. But it’s a debut novel, and I would still love to be in Ruth Ware’s shoes as a writer.