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Crime & Beyond met this month to discuss In a Dark, Dark, Wood by Ruth Ware. It was Ware’s first book but our second, since we read The Woman in Cabin 10 already. One of the questions we asked as we went around the room was: Dark Wood or Cabin 10? We were dead split on the number of people who preferred Cabin 10 versus Dark Wood. We also had a few that didn’t like either.

The scores were are follows: we hit a low of 2 and a high of 8 (but three people scored the book an 8). In between, we had one 2.5, one 4, two 5s, one 5.5, six 6s, three 7s, and one 7.5. There was a LOT of slapping going on and James came out on top, or would it be the bottom? We were willing to slap Claire, Flo, Nora and even Dave, too though — lest you think we discriminated.

Kelly led the discussion and provided some great info about the author’s inspiration for the book. (I always find it fascinating where people come up with ideas for things.) Ware had been thinking about hen parties after her friend pointed out that they aren’t really something people use as a murder set-up. They’re a great theme, though, full of women who don’t know each other very well because they all come from a different part of the bride’s life. An Awkward night out at a bar, or tragic murderous rampage at a snowed in house in the country – the latter is definitely my choice.

If you remember, the main complaint about Cabin 10 was whiny Lo. She really got on a lot of nerves and got in the way of the book for those who couldn’t take her neurotic behavior. It seemed that Dark Wood didn’t need the setup of an emotionally unstable protagonist and therefore, Nora (Lee) was a better start.

Better start or not, this book really didn’t get a ton of high scores.

Quite a few didn’t care for it:

  • Kelly thought there were a lot of annoying characters.
  • Sharon K. felt it dragged out a little.
  • Tammy thought it was just “ok” and guessed it was Claire.
  • Allie felt that the main character was way more likable but the plot was better in Cabin 10.
  • Amy feels that Ware just steals the plots from Agatha Christie books.
  • Dave thought the book was contrived and the plot stolen.
  • Terri thought there weren’t enough bodies and the murder took way too long to happen.

But then some people liked it, with only a few complaints:

  • Pat thought it was a fresh idea.
  • Kerry loved that it was more of a whodunit but liked Cabin 10 better.
  • Jay enjoyed it up until the end when all of the contrived stuff was added in.
  • Sharon L. thought it wasn’t as planned out as Cabin 10 but she still liked it better.
  • Dennis kind of liked the book (except the end) but thought there were too few bodies. He said, “People that survive suicide always kind of disappoint me.”
  • Denise also felt there were too few bodies. Note to self, never accept a dinner invitation to the Rapata household.

I heard a lot of people say that they guessed Claire early on. I think this is one of the few times when this has happened. I usually hear people (me included) follow the red herrings and miss the murderer entirely. Not sure if this means we are just that smart, or if it was an easy guess. Probably easy guess.

Just to confuse things even more, several people have read Ware’s third book, The Lying Game, and say it’s excellent. We probably won’t put it on the book club list, but I’d be interested in hearing other feedback when and if anyone reads it.

Thanks to Kelly for both leading and providing the crack, I mean snack. Those salted caramels are up there with blond double stuffed Oreos on my list of reasons why I need to lose weight, but I loved every one I ate!

Next month I will lead as we discuss The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly. Kim will be providing us with her excellent baking skills. I suggest you skip dinner to save room. See you on September 25.

P.S. November will be here before we know it and that is when the new Murder on the Orient Express movie is released. I plan on going to see it and thought it would be fun to get a group together for the movie and/or dinner. Stay tuned for an invite. It’ll be a Saturday or Sunday I think.

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