In Ruth Ware’s novel In a Dark, Dark Wood Leonora, the novel’s narrator, is surprised when she receives an invite to her school friend Clare’s weekend long hen party. (Bachelorette parties are known as hen parties in England, which is where the book is set.) Leonora has lost touch with most of her friends from school, Clare included. Leonora is still friends with Nina, an obnoxious doctor, and gets a ride with her to the rural cottage where the weekend is taking place. The weekend is organized by Clare’s friend Flo, and Leonora wonders why she was invited and if she should have agreed to go at all.
Besides Clare, Flo, Nina, and Leonora, there’s Tom, an acquaintance of Clare’s, and a worried mother character who leaves the weekend early on and whose name I can’t remember. So it’s a small group. Tom seems to want the party to turn into a weekend of debauchery. Nina takes pride in pushing everyone’s buttons, and Flo is obsessed with making it the perfect weekend for Clare.
The book shifts back and forth between the cottage and Leonora waking up in a hospital room later on. At the hospital, she knows something is afoot as a police officer is guarding her door and at one point she overhears someone say murder. Like Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train we are given a narrator who is having trouble remembering what really happened. I wasn’t able to guess who committed the murder, but I’m usually terrible at guessing those things. I did feel that Ware created enough motivations among the main characters to also keep more astute readers guessing. In a Dark, Dark Wood is a nice addition to the murder mystery genre.