BOOK REVIEW: Clearing in the Woods by Phyllis M. Newman (Suspense Thriller)

Phyllis M. Newman
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Publisher: Independent
Date of Publication: October 31, 2019
Number of Pages: 321

Roberta escapes her humdrum middle-class existence and the persistent ache of her dead mother’s secrets by fleeing to Alaska.

Having abandoned everything she’d spent her life building, Roberta remakes herself in another place, doing anything other than responding to the demands of her self-absorbed husband, her entitled kids, and her Pottery Barn home. Taking her first job since college, and a small room above a tourists’ shop, she contemplates new vistas. She never expected, however, to find romance in the form of a handsome federal agent involved in murder and mayhem.

And it is murder and mayhem, and the discovery of other’s secrets, that causes Roberta to run for her life into the Alaskan wilderness…
This was an incredibly fast-paced and easy read, filled with engaging and unique characters that were well-developed and fascinating in their own right. 

From the very beginning, Roberta sets a dissatisfied tone with everything about her life. She feels neglected and unseen by her family and has become unfulfilled by the humdrum nature of her existence. Not quite sure how to vocalize her feelings, she retreats to a remote location in Alaska to get away from everything and hopefully find some understanding as she sets the task for herself of finally spreading her mother’s ashes. 

Roberta spends a lot of her time in quiet introspection even as her life begins spiraling out of control. She unwittingly becomes tied up in a mystery that is a full-throttle thrill ride once it gets going. The action is fast-paced and keeps the pages turning, while the suspense that was built as characters were thrown into danger intensified the story’s progression. There was some misdirection with the role of law enforcement, which added a compelling aspect to the investigation; however, an antagonistic relationship between the local police and Roberta was established very early on and never got easier. Their interactions with each other became more and more frustrating as the danger escalated. Yet, rather than running towards their assistance, she fled farther and farther away, which only created more problems.  And, unfortunately, they continued to give her every reason to do so. 

The metaphors made throughout the narrative to fairy tales were fascinating to read and make the ending so clever. These connections add such an intriguing layer to Roberta’s insightful memories as well as to her ability to move forward after such a harrowing ordeal.

Overall, this is an edgy story that will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat!

Phyllis M. Newman is a native southerner. Born in New Orleans, she spent formative years in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, and on a dairy farm in Ross County, Ohio. After a long career in finance and human resources at The Ohio State University, she turned her attention to writing fiction. She published a noir mystery, “Kat’s Eye” in 2015, a Gothic mystery, “The Vanished Bride of Northfield House” in 2018, and the suspense thriller “Clearing in the Woods” in 2019. Today she lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband and three perpetually unimpressed cats, none of whom venture far from home.

Many thanks again to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and the author! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!

March 5 – TBR Book Blog – REVIEW
March 6 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – GUEST POST
March 7 – A Wytch’s Book Review Blog – SPOTLIGHT
March 8 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
March 9 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
March 9 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
March 10 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
March 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 13 – Ascroft, eh?– CHARACTER GUEST POST
March 14 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 15 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW
March 16 – Hearts & Scribbles – SPOTLIGHT
March 17 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW
March 17 – eBook addicts – REVIEW
March 18 – Ruff Drafts– GUEST POST

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