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Book Author: Kimi Cunningham Grant

THESE SILENT WOODS by Kimi Cunningham Grant: Book Review

These Silent Woods is one of the most fascinating and well-written mysteries I’ve read this year.  Not a traditional mystery or crime story or thriller, it has elements of all three as well as showing a loving relationship between a father and daughter that reminds me of To Kill A Mockingbird.

Cooper and his daughter Finch live in a rustic cabin in the woods, without electricity or running water, far from (almost all) neighbors.   Only two people know they are there–Jake, the owner of the cabin, and a man called Scotland who lives some miles away and comes by on unannounced and infrequent visits.

Cooper and Finch have been in the cabin for nearly eight years, almost since Finch’s birth.  The reason they are living there is revealed slowly at different points in the novel, but it’s obvious that Cooper is a man who is hiding from the world.  He keeps a loaded Ruger under the extra pillow on his bed, has a locked gate at the front of the property, puts his car behind the house where it cannot be seen, and has given Finch the codeword “root beer” to tell her to hide beneath the trap door in the kitchen should an unexpected visitor stop by.  And except for Jake and possibly the Scotsman, all visitors would be unexpected and definitely unwelcome.

Finch has never been in a store, a school, a library, or anyone else’s home.  She has never had a playmate nor, as far as she knows, does she have any family besides Coop.  But she is a happy girl, and as the book opens she’s eagerly awaiting their annual visit from Jake, Coop’s army friend and the man whose life Coop saved in Afghanistan.

Jake brings supplies that must last from one yearly visit to the next so that Coop doesn’t need to shop.  He always arrives on the same date and brings something special for Finch, so on December 14th Coop and Finch are ready.  Finch has her own gifts for Jake, a bone knife that she made and a bunch of pressed violets.  But morning turns into afternoon and afternoon into evening, and still Jake doesn’t come.

Then a memory comes back to Coop, Jake saying the previous year, “You know if I don’t come, one of these years, it’s because I can’t.”  And Coop understands that the injuries that his friend received in Kabul are going to end his life sooner rather than later.  Now that year has come.  There was no way for Jake to contact Coop–no telephone, no post office box.  Coop and Finch are on their own.

Kimi Cunningham Grant has written an outstanding story that will stay with you long after you close the book.  The characters are beautifully portrayed, and the way the plot unfolds is masterful.

You can read more about her at this website.

Check out the complete Marilyn’s Mystery Reads at her website.  In addition to book review posts, there are sections featuring Golden OldiesPast Masters and Mistresses, and an About Marilyn column that features her opinions about everything to do with mystery novels.