Friday, April 19, 2019

Sluggish "Thriller" Not Really ... Thrilling

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Biologist Marian Engström has always been better with animals than humans, so it's no surprise when she finds her life's calling as a dog handler.  During training, she falls in love with charismatic Tate Mathias, who regals her with tales of his many adventures.  While he's not one to settle down, Marian hopes the two of them will have a bright, happy future together.  That dream shatters when 35-year-old Tate dies after being savagely mauled by a bear while on a job in Washington State.  

Stricken with grief, Marian ruminates on all her interactions with Tate, only now freeing some of the misgivings she had about her enigmatic boyfriend.  One of his stories, very vividly told, had him heroically discovering the body of a murdered woman.  With more killings happening since that one, Marian can't help but wonder, did Tate have more to do with the victim than just discovering her corpse?  Enlisting the help of a retired forensic profiler/psychologist, Marian vows to figure out just who Tate Mathias really was.  Was he simply an adventurer who enjoyed exaggerating his exploits for entertainment value?  Or was he a compulsive liar turned serial killer?  She will not rest until she knows the truth.

Although The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets is billed as a mystery/thriller, it really ... isn't.  It's more of a literary suspense novel, just without a whole lot of suspense.  The story unfolds very slowly, weighted down by lengthy descriptions of nature and dog handling.  It's a character-driven novel for sure; the plot only really only gets "thrilling" toward the end.  As you can imagine, this makes for a sluggish read that gets dull at times.  Overall, I found the book compelling enough to finish, but also easy to put down.  For all these reasons, The Last Woman in the Forest turned out to be just an okay read for me.  

(Readalikes:  Hm, I can't think of anything.  Can you?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, sexual content, and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Last Woman in the Forest from the generous folks at Penguin Random House via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!

10 comments:

  1. I have a difficult time with books that have lengthy descriptions of nature and things that feel like they don't propel the story forward so this one will be a miss for me.

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    1. This one definitely has that and, while some of it was interesting, it just seemed excessive. For me, all the detail really took away from the story.

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  2. Bummer! I won an ARC for this a few months ago (completely failed at reading it on time), and I was really looking forward to it. I like the premise, and thought the thriller aspect was intriguing. Hmm, maybe I'll lower my expectations a little.

    Lindsi @ Do You Dog-ear? 💬

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    1. The book just ended up being different from what I expected. And not in a good way -- at least for me. I didn't end up hating the book. I just didn't love it like I thought I would.

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  3. I wound up really enjoying this one but agree it was a little slow.

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    1. Did you? I mean, I finished it so I obviously didn't hate it. I just felt very meh about it by the end. I'm glad you enjoyed it, though!

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  4. That's disappointing. I was hoping for more suspense from this one. Now I'm not sure I even want to read it.

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    1. It does have suspense ... in certain places. It just takes soooooo long to get there that I got bored.

      I'll be really interested to see what you think of this one if you do end up reading it.

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  5. Books that claim to be thrillers and aren't really are the worst! I hope your next read is a better one!

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  6. I want to read this one because it is set in Canada. I have read some reviews that loved it and some that were so so. I guess this is one of those books that I will have read and see where I fall. Another good review Susan.

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