The media has dubbed him “the Woodsman.” But after Iris learns the sickening details held back from the press, and as she sets foot onto the scene of his latest crime, she assembles a portrait of a more complicated, enigmatic, meticulous man. Control is his motivation. He thrives on it. Soon he even tries to manipulate the investigation by contacting Iris, hoping to rattle the woman he considers an intellectual equal.
The game is on. Iris thinks she has a read on her target, enough to push his buttons, to make him lose control. But when the Woodsman gains the upper hand, Iris faces the most painful reckoning of all—with her own violent past.
What I liked: I had another series written by Jennifer Harlow in my TBR pile but found Beautiful Maids In A Row on NetGalley and it sounded pretty interesting and intense, so I thought, why not?
I enjoyed the book and Ms Harlow’s writing style. Her main character, Dr. Iris Ballard, was mostly an intriguing character and the man in her past life, Luke Hudson, was okay also. The driving force in this book to me is the killer and the way the book is plotted. In order to understand the killer though, you need Ballard’s insights.
There’s a lot of back story involving Ballard and how she ended up practically barricaded in her home and needing pills and booze to get through her days of teaching or trying to sleep. She’s haunted by the death of her husband and guilty over an affair (I’m not sure one sexual encounter is an affair) she had with a co-worker.
Ballard matching wits with the killer and the lack of respect from the FBI team is a good combination for this story to work. It’s gory, gritty and Ballard isn’t at all times a sympathetic character. However, for the most part I could understand her feelings and how she had changed after the death of her husband.
What I didn’t like: I love well-written character driven stories. In that aspect, Beautiful Maids All In A Row missed somewhat. I made several notes while reading and most of them were about how I wasn’t buying what the character was selling. They felt off. But, at the end of the novel, I found out this was the very first book ever written by Ms Harlow and at a very young age and that changed my outlook a bit.
The other thing I really didn’t care for was the abrupt ending but I think in this case it works okay especially since it appears this will be a series.
While I had some problems with the book, I did however keep flipping the pages. I wanted to know how and where Ballard and the “bad guy” were going to end their fight.
I’m curious enough to try the next in the series to see how Ms Harlow has progressed as an author and to see how she takes the characters forward especially in their development.
I also feel the pricing at $3.99 is a good deal. I received an ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.