Publication Day Book Review – ‘Down to the Woods’ by M. J. Arlidge⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Thank you to NetGalley, M. J. Arlidge and Penguin UK for the chance to read and review this novel.

There is a sickness in the forest. First, it was the wild horses. Now it’s innocent men and women, hunted down and murdered by a faceless figure. Lost in the darkness, they try to flee, they try to hide. In desperation, they call out for help. But there is no-one to hear their cries here…

DI Helen Grace and the rest of Southampton’s Major Incident Team are back for book 8 and have a new series of shocking and savage crimes to solve. It is the height of the camping season and a killer is targeting the holidaymakers under the cover of darkness. After a barbaric death, the brutalised victim is then left displayed between the branches of the ancient trees in the picturesque New Forest like a macabre piece of art. Is there a reason behind the way they are killed and displayed? Or is the killer just doing it to shock and haunt those who have to witness the aftermath of his violence? How and why does the killer select their victims and kill without a single witness or clue seeming to be left behind? Helen has to delve into the depths of the forest to find answers. But will she make it out unscathed?

I have been a fan of this series of books ever since the first one was published. I’ve loved all the previous novels and how well written the characters are and you get to know and care about them more with each book, feeling their joy and their pain. I also grew up not far from the New Forest so feel a connection with the characters and places in these books that makes it even more fun to read. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this installment ever since it was announced, so to get the chance to read and review it before release was an exciting privilege. 

Very quickly the fear, suspense and mystery begin and you’re on the edge of your seat reading every word. You feel every bit of terror, confusion and pain that victims experience, the evil delight as their murderer stalks and dispatches his prey and the desperation felt by Helen and her team as they try to find the killer and bring them to justice.

The addition of a new team member in this book added an extra element of mystery as you try to figure out his motives for joining the team and reason behind his obsession with his new boss. Is he a suspect? Or is he up to something altogether unconnected to the crimes?

M. J. Arlidge has done it again.  He’s written an exciting, grisly thriller that you can’t put down.  He weaves multiple characters and storylines together intricately, masking their full connection until the dramatic reveal. From the start of the book my head was constantly spinning with ideas of how the victims might be connected, who could be doing this and why. The answers were shocking and the author is able to throw us off the scent expertly in order to keep the true identity of this heinous killer a mystery. Reading the previous books did help me connect with the characters but you could definitely pick up this story without having read any of the others and still enjoy a fantastic, nail-biting read.

Released today.


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