Penhale Wood by Julia Thomas

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve been in the mood for a really good detective mystery this holiday, and this one seemed right up my alley. I don’t want to babble for too long so let’s jump into my review:

On a cold December night in Cornwall, nanny Karen Peterson disappears with 3-year-old Sophie Flynn… and the body of the child is discovered in Penhale Wood the next day. However, there are no traces of the nanny; it’s like she disappeared. One year later, Sophie’s mother, Iris, appears on the doorstep of officer Rob McIntyre, desperate for him to reopen the case. Ambushed by the mother and battling his own demons, Rob reluctantly agrees. Following the slimmest of leads, they soon find themselves facing a chameleon-like killer who will do anything to stay hidden.

This may not be the most well thought out mystery novel…. but this was one of my favorite mysteries to read! There is something about this author’s style of writing that is just absolutely addictive and I really could not stop myself from finishing the story, even as I questioned discrepancies and problems with the plot. The first problem was with Inspector Rob McIntyre. His character was very bland and just made up of mismatched cliches; it made for a very disjointed and unlikeable character. The other characters were a lot more interesting, and the author really kept the interest of the reader by switching up perspectives throughout the story. The plot, however, really lacked credibility on all fronts. For one thing, why did the mother wait one year before pursuing this with such eagerness? It made no sense. From the beginning, the author told us who the suspect was… so then why did the police have absolutely nothing in terms of leads? The way Iris and McIntyre went about looking for clues really didn’t add up and the final solving of the mystery was just very lackluster. However, despite all of these drawbacks, I couldn’t pull myself away from this story. That’s why I’m willing to read more by this author and why I am giving this novel a 3/5 stars.


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