Becky H. (Chicago, IL)
Thriller?, Not So Much
I really liked, maybe even loved, the writing. I liked the author's pacing, his sentence structure and his word usage. I liked the characters and that you really got to know them (except Ruby who always seemed a mystery both to me and to the writer).
What I didn't like was the story. Except for three heart pounding pages there was no "thrill" to it. The end left me flat. It seemed as if there was a chapter missing - the last one where all the stories (there are at least 5) would come to their conclusions. If you are looking for beautiful writing and finely drawn characters, you will love this book. If you are looking for a thriller or a mystery, you need to keep looking.
Susan F. (Chicago, IL)
Rage incited the precipitating event in the novel when Paul acts in defense of a helpless animal. What I found disconcerting is that the rage evidenced early on is inconsistent with how Paul considers himself in any other aspect of his life. I would have liked to have some insight about the origin of rage that seemed so contradictory to the rest of who is.
Amy H. (Benbrook, TX)
Loss of Momentum
I give this book 3 stars with great trepidation, because I absolutely love the writing style of Scott Spencer. His descriptive prose has no match with any current author that I've read. My hesitation with a higher rating stems from loss of plot momentum for the middle 50 of the book. As Paul grapples with his conscience and loses touch with reality, the book slows to an idle that endured way too long. I never learned enough about Will to be even remotely sympathetic to his death, and I found Ruby to be an over-indulged, slightly creepy child. Paul's character was well-developed and I enjoyed reading about his relationship with Kate. In the future, I might pick up another book by Spencer, once I'm able to forget how frustrated I was with this one.
Jeff M. (Morris Plains, NJ)
Man in the Woods
A crime occurs very early in "Man in the Woods", but this is not a police procedural. In fact, the investigative works occurs mainly in the background and is presented in relatively short chapters throughout the book.
What this book is all about are relationships -- man/woman, mother/daughter, brother/sister and the key one -- man/dog and how the crime and its aftermath, along with other life issues (including the highly anticipated Y2K -- the book takes place in late 1999) impacts those relationships. Scott Spencer has a tremendous ability for character development (I had not read his previous novel, "A Ship Made of Paper" in which two of the characters first appeared) and his literary descriptions around even a simple event, like a winter sunset, are exceptional and very visual. Yet one of the most interesting characters is the hapless dog, Shep, who plays a pivotal role throughout and is key to the ending, which will likely leave many a reader speechless. I strongly recommend.
Eileen P. (Pittsford, NY)
The darkness inside
Man in the Woods is a sequel to Scott Spencer’s A Ship Made of Paper. While I enjoyed Man in the Woods, I found myself wondering more than once if I would had a better understanding of the characters and their motivations if I had read the previous novel first. Even so, Man in the Woods would make an excellent discussion book. Not only would it be interesting to discuss the moral issues the book raises, but it would also be easy to have an engaging discussion about the plausibility of the characters' responses to the choices they face.
Beatrice D. (Floral Park, New York)
Man in the Woods
This is a well written fast-paced page turner revealing one man's quandaries as he grows from being an independent teenager into a many-talented man. Along the way he is confronted with people he meets and decisions to make which will affect his entire future.
Spencer's writing takes us along on Paul's journey to selfhood as he seeks to find the true essence and purpose of his life.
A really good read from first to last page
Barbara C. (Riverside, CA)
It's all about the dog
This book has a nice crisp writing style that flows well. The premise is interesting and unusual, but the end may leave the reader scratching his or her head. Most of the characters are really “characters” and they are woven together like macramé, but some seem unnecessary or at least over-developed. I love the policeman. He could have a series of books all about him! Scott Spencer writes lots of little truisms and aphorisms that you wish you had said instead of him. The main character is full of life lessons and Truths (Notice the capital T?).