DI Sasha Dawson #2
95,000 words, 297 pages, 9 hrs and 31 mins to read
Published by Head of Zeus on March 4th 2021
4.10 out of 5 on Goodreads
Our Rating: 4 out of 5
The Woman in the Wood is the second book in the DI Sasha Dawson series by M. K. Hill (sometimes going by Mark Hill). It’s another British crime thriller following a police detective, similar to Joy Ellis’s Their Lost Daughters and the DI Nikki Galena or DI Bliss series’. Amongst the many other books we’ve reviewed and series we’ve written guides about here at Bridging’s Books.
I actually picked this up very randomly, it was in an old red phone box converted into a library/book exchange in the middle of nowhere in Scotland and the blurb sounded interesting so we grabbed it. And I’m glad we did, as this was one of the most fun reads I’ve had in a while within this genre.
The story follows Danny Cruikshank or “Abs”, an ex reality TV star who fell from grace after being with a group of friends who were mysteriously involved with a girl who went missing three years ago. When one of those friends dies in suspicious circumstances, it brings the group and the girl’s disappearance back to the attention of the police, and the main character, DI Sasha Dawson.
I realised quite quickly that this is in fact the second book in the series, and whilst there were the occasional references to what I assume happened in the first, it never proved to be problematic and I think it can definitely be read as a standalone. If anything, it now makes me want to read the first and find out what happened.
What’s Bad About The Woman in the Wood?
Like with many of our reviews, we like to start with what didn’t work for us. I’m happy to say that this section isn’t very big.
One of the main things that stopped me from rating this higher is that I have kind of read this story many many times before. It has all the hallmarks of a classic British detective crime thriller. This isn’t necessarily bad, but if it had done something more unique and still managed to hit all the positives I’ll talk about later, then I think I would have rated this higher. This might not be the case for you, but if you’ve read a lot of crime fiction then a lot of this will feel familiar.
My only other real point I’ll mention was difficult for me to add to this section as I was conflicted. But I’ll stick with it.
The main character, DI Sasha Dawson, was a mostly solid lead. The issue again is that nothing really stood out for me about her. She had to handle a range of sometimes interesting personal problems as well as a very demanding police career. Some of this I didn’t care about but it did help her feel like a complete person, rather than a simplistic plot device to move the story on. She sometimes came across as too busy to actually learn anything meaningful about, that might have been the whole point, but ultimately she worked fine as the lead. I might be missing a bit here from not having read the first book. (Sorry if that’s the case, I will read the rest of this series when I can!)
What’s Good About The Woman in the Wood?
Now onto the good. Coming from a lukewarm character to a hot character. At least that’s how he sees himself. Abs is a kind of loveable but also kind of hateable person that goes through a realistic arc with a satisfying and grounded conclusion. He was such an interesting character because he’s ultimately incredibly shallow and self obsessed, being caught up in a wild show-business lifestyle that emphasises “clout” over just being a decent human being. But I ended up really liking him, he grew as a person as events unfolded and so did my sympathy for him. He felt genuine, vulnerable and despite being the type of person I would normally have very little interest in, I genuinely liked him. I think he might even be my favourite recent character from this genre of story.
There were also other strong supporting characters that ranged from frustrating siblings, to deep, conflicted friends and a decent line up of characters helping DI Sasha Dawson get to the bottom of the mystery.
In addition to this, the story was well written, with a fast pace and plenty going on. It was also a very easy read, the writing style was simple but effective with a strong voice and a flow that I don’t always see from smaller crime fiction authors. The plot was intricately designed with a couple of twists that I genuinely did not see coming. They were my favourite type of twist as well, the one that annoys you that you missed it. It was all there, right from the beginning in some aspects, but it was written in such a way that the big reveal – and then the even bigger reveal – was delivered perfectly.
Overall, this was a really solid crime thriller that was easy to read with some interesting characters and a brilliantly constructed plot. If you’re looking for an easy but highly enjoyable read then this should go right to the top of your To Be Read pile. I’m excited to read more of M. K. Hill and am honestly surprised that more people haven’t read/reviewed his books.
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