Exile in Moscow and Murder in the Woods

I guess there’s something about the weeks leading up to October that puts me in a creepy mood. I’ve been really into mysteries and thrillers lately and I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Today I’ll talk about what I’ve read over the last two weeks and the books in my TBR pile.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, mystery/thriller (320 pages)

When I finished The Woman in Cabin 10 a few weeks ago (recap here) I looked over some reader reviews on Goodreads because I was curious if other readers felt the same way I did about parts of the novel. Though a few reviewers made me feel a little better about my own feelings regarding it, my biggest takeaway from those reviews was the overwhelming feeling that Ruth Ware’s first book was more satisfying. I picked up In a Dark, Dark Wood at the library a few days later and read it in 24 hours.

It takes place over the course of a bachelorette weekend in the woods. Lenora, the narrator, reveals early on that she was surprised to be invited since she and the bride-to-be, Clare, haven’t spoken since high school when their friendship ended badly. Lenora isn’t excited about the weekend to begin with, but when she finds out Clare is marrying her ex-boyfriend she becomes almost unhinged. Adding to her frustration is Emma, Clare and Lenora’s mutual friend, who won’t stop awkwardly bring up the man both Clare and Lenora now share. There’s also Flo, Clare’s best friend who seems a little too obsessed with her (one character actually compares Flo to Glenn Close’s character in Fatal Attraction). And then there’s the cabin: it’s in the middle of the woods, miles from help, and the walls are made chiefly of glass. Lenora often remarks that she feels as though someone is watching them from the woods and the suspicious shoe prints outside early one morning don’t help matters. The weekend is interrupted by a brutal crime and Lenora wakes up in a hospital with large gaps in her memory. She knows she is going to be accused of a crime since she overhears police officers discussing whether she’s innocent or guilty, and she must somehow prove her innocence from a hospital bed. But is she innocent? Both Lenora and readers won’t know until the end since her memories only come back in small spurts.

This is a story of sinister friendships and relationships gone wrong. It kept me up into the late hours of the night and when I finished it I didn’t want to go to sleep.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, literary / historical fiction (462 pages)

It took me about a week and a half to read this one, and since this novel covers so many years and is so dense I broke it up by reading In a Dark, Dark Wood. Amor Towles’s debut novel was a wonderful story about a young woman living in New York in the 1920s (it’s called Rules of Civility and it’s a great for Gatsby-lovers!). So, when I heard he was putting out another work of historical fiction, I was thrilled. A Gentleman in Moscow did not disappoint. Set in Moscow after the Russian Revolution, it follows the life of Count Alexander Rostov, a “former person” (as the Bolsheviks call him), who has been sentenced to live out his remaining days in the Metropol Hotel under house arrest. Rostov’s crime was writing an unsavory political poem years before. Used to a life of endless choice and luxury, Alexander is forced to reconcile himself to the four walls of this grand hotel. His life inside the hotel moves forward as people on the outside are disappearing, old ideas are dying, and Russia is being demolished and rebuilt for a new generation. Though you might think a novel that takes place in one building would be boring, Alexander’s zest for life despite his circumstances is contagious and I delighted in his many adventures. He is able to fall in love, build relationships, and transcend his sentence. There are a few surprises along the way too, and I have to say it’s been a while since I’ve read a novel that was at once cozy and unsettling.  If you like history or comeback stories, this one’s for you.

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1) by Tana French, mystery (429 pages)

I have told almost everyone I know to read this book. Though I finished it a few days ago, it has stuck with me and I’m still trying to figure out one of the book’s mysteries.

Three twelve year old children go out to play in the familiar woods surrounding their small community and don’t come back. Days later, one of the children is found hugging a tree so hard his fingernails are falling off. His shirt is sliced up in the back and his shoes are filled with someone else’s blood.

Years later, this boy has changed his name from Adam Ryan to Rob Ryan. Though he is a detective in the exclusive Murder Squad of the Dublin Police Department, no one there knows about his mysterious past except for his partner and best friend Cassie. Rob himself doesn’t know what happened in those woods as his memories from the first twelve years of his life are gone. When a young girl goes missing and is found murdered in that same small community, Rob and Cassie have to figure out if there is a connection between the two cases.



This book is great.

I loved the two mysteries at the center of the story, but even more than that I loved French’s characters. I’m biding my time before I start in on the other books in this series, but I’m so glad I’ll get to visit with some of these characters again. This novel really did it for me for some reason, and I can’t wait for some people I know to read it so I can talk through my theories with them. I’ve heard French always leaves at least one mystery unsolved in all of her books, which is so cool! This one has had me reeling for days.

TBR Pile

The Shining by Stephen King

My book club is reading this for the month of October and I’m so scared and so excited! Red rum…

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

I’m currently reading this one and it’s pretty good so far. I didn’t know that it was about a stolen baby before I started reading, so that has me a bit bummed. But it’s supposed to be a really great thriller…hopefully things will get less sad and more awesome soon!

A to-be-determined romance novel

My friend Lindsey is a huge advocate of romance novels and I’ve decided I don’t read enough of them. I’m leaning toward The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean (who wrote this great article, “Bashing Romance Novels is Just Another Form of Slut-Shaming” , for Bustle this week).

A Few Others…

I’m picking up The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake, and Before the Fall by Noah Hawkley from the libary soon, but it might be a week or two before I get to those!