Wednesday 27 April 2022

The Girl in the Woods

Finished April 25
The Girl in the Woods by Gregg Olsen

This thriller is the first book in a series that features native American pathologist Dr. Birdy Waterman and Sheriff's detective Kendall Stark, who have been working as a cross departmental team very successfully in Washington state.
The novel opens with a prologue where a young woman, Molly O'Rourke, a nurse's aid, taking her dog out early in the morning before work. As she waits, she thinks about one of her neighbours, Ted Roberts and how he had encouraged her as well as how ill he looked the last time she saw him.
As this novel proper begins, Birdy is surprised to find her teenage nephew, Elan on her front steps, soaking wet and looking to stay with her for a while. She's on her way out because a school trip results in the find of a human foot, and the two women have been called to attend the crime scene. As Birdy examines the foot and the two work to identify the victim, Birdy ends up getting closer to this case than she usually does with the family members of the people she examines. She gets drawn into a variety of possibilities for the perpetrator and motives and finds herself taking on aspects of the case that would normally fall to police. 
Kendall does a lot of research around the case as well, looking into the victim, family members and who might have a grudge against any of them. 
When another suspicious death happens in the community, the two are also involved in that, and soon begin to wonder whether the cases are connected. 
There are lots of interesting themes here, with larger story possibilities arising around the main characters and their personal lives. Birdy's nephew Elan has issues he struggles to deal with, and one of the other characters is a hoarder, with all the mental health issues that brings. 
There is also a prison in the community and both staff and inmates have appearances here too. I enjoyed the two lead characters, and many of the plotlines, but for me the ending seemed to have too much going on, and things happened very quickly with little of the even pace of the rest of the novel. Hopefully this will resolve as the series continues. 

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