Review: “Screams in the Woods,” Michael R. Martin

Pros: Perfect for readers who want lots of expository puzzling-out
Cons: Long with lots of exposition
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Michael R. Martin’s Screams in the Woods is one of a certain kind of books: there’s a dark mystery to solve, perhaps involving unnatural forces of some kind, and most of the “action” is actually dialogue as people fit together all the pieces to what’s going on. You really have to be into this type of book in order to get something out of it, because otherwise you’re just overloaded with exposition. There’s only a small amount of action and suspense. I think Screams in the Woods is a great example of the genre. If that doesn’t happen to be what you’re looking for, however, you’re in for hours of exposition and dialogue–not my favorite type of book. Still, the story was interesting enough that I didn’t set it aside.

Christine, who works at some sort of investigational bureau, receives a ‘cold case’ file on two missing people who’ve been gone for some time. She sets out to find out where and how they vanished. She ends up examining old mining accidents in which a great many people were killed. Her boss seems over-eager for her to keep the details to herself, even though her colleague and friend Jim very much wants in on the case. (I never felt that her boss’s place in all this was adequately explained, but perhaps I missed a sentence somewhere.)

The interesting details of the house in the middle of all this–and the old families involved–held my interest despite the fact that most of the book was dialogue. I also wasn’t entirely sure what to make of the end (I won’t say anything more than that; I don’t want to spoil it for you.) The one place where I could have used a little extra explanation, and it wasn’t there. There’s a lot going on in a long book here, so grab yourself some caffeine of your choice to help you dive in and remember the details.

I like the characters–Christine and Jim’s friendship is an interesting one. I wish I’d seen more of the boss, as I said; he was a weak point. Again, this is almost entirely dialogue-exposition, so if that isn’t your thing, read something else. But if you like mysterious, slow, otherworldly plots, then this is perfect for you!

Book provided for free for review

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