The Girl in the Woods is a cosy murder mystery that is an enthralling read full of suspense, guilt and a determination to right a wrong. Blair’s best friend Molly is unceremoniously sent home alone from Blair’s house by her guardian, Uncle Ellis. Ellis is a well-drawn and unpleasant character that shows how hateful, uncaring and racist he is. Lumbered with two children to raise he has become bitter and difficult, especially with his 13-year-old niece. That night Molly is murdered before she ever reaches home and her body dumped in the nearby woods. No-one knows for sure what happened, but a young black man, Adrian, is convicted of the murder based on the evidence that Molly’s phone was found in his car.
Fifteen years’ later Blair’s sister, Celeste, is dying of cancer and on her deathbed reveals that she was with Adrian that night and she could have provided an alibi, but didn’t. She claims that they gave Molly a lift home and drove off leaving her at the bottom of her path. Celeste’s dying request of Blair is to put the record straight and help get Adrian (now Mohammad) released from jail. No-one has any interest in reopening the case, even if it means releasing an innocent man and finding the real killer. However, Blair made a promise to a dying sister and her conscience, sense of loyalty, family guilt and principles, all drive Blair forward to put the matter right.
The characters and their interactions all felt very real as the unravelling of the events of that night and potential other suspects, slowly and gradually materialise. This is a well written, believable plot where the natural investigation line, although at times extremely daunting and challenging, eventually bears fruit. The best approach to freeing Mohammad and finding justice is to find the real killer – but with that comes danger and that person may be closer than you think.
This was a really good enthralling and captivating read that enables the reader to feel the frustration, guilt and determination Blair needs to resolve this crime. The ending finished well and wasn’t dragged out to cover for a badly structured plot.
Many thanks to Severn House Publishing and NetGalley, for an ARC version of the book in return for an honest review.