This review originally formed part of Nudge Book's slot on Rachel's Random Resources Blog Tour Blitz -
Unsure what to expect, as this author was unfamiliar to me, I sat down with an open mind and the lovely anticipation of starting a new book. Underneath the main title of The Cuckoo Wood was the subtitle ‘An Alex Ripley Mystery’. I wrongly presumed that Alex was male, but once I discovered she wasn’t, I will admit I couldn’t get the image of Sigourney Weaver from my head!! If that sounds ‘Alien’ to you – ha – it is!
Alex Ripley is a learned lady dubbed the Miracle Detective and known for her scepticism where matters of the psychic, angelic interventions and miracle healing are concerned. Her curiosity piqued by her forensic officer friend, Emma, who believes she has a case that could use Ripley’s expertise, Ripley hot foots it to the village of Kirkdale. Two girls have apparently independently committed suicide after claiming to have seen an angel.
What follows is a tightly plotted, tense and atmospheric thriller that I think it is unlikely you will second guess!! The village and all its inhabitants are creepy and a dark past seems to be at the root of what follows. Its a Royston Vasey kind of village – for local people – but without the humour. The characters are solid, well drawn. They all seem to have a secret of some kind or give that impression. I suspected nearly everyone at one point or another, apart from Ripley and Emma! It’s that uncertainty and the sinister undertones that urge you to read on and on. It’s an evenly paced narrative that doesn’t look to make you jump with the unexpected. It’s more like a spring that slowly uncoils. The tension is palpable at times. The titular Cuckoo Wood is eerie and reading late into the night I had to stop because I was getting spooked!!
The suggestion that there are psychic or angelic forces at play is well sustained throughout and there is a subtle, on the fence kind of sense that maybe, just maybe, this will be the occasion when Ripley has to concede there there is ‘something out there’. And whether that turns out to be the case or not is just one reason why you might want to go and read this book!
I have to admit that the final denouement required some intense concentration to slot everything into place and it was here that I thought I might come up against a plot hole or two. But I didn’t! No, sir. Not one. Very satisfying.