hole in the woods
Hole in the Woods
Jennifer Graeser Dornbush
Ally Press
$17.99
ISBN 978-0800738624
Publication Date: August 3, 2020
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Hole in the Woods

Review by Tim Suddeth

In Jennifer Graeser Dornbush’s latest novel, Hole in the Woods, we are guided into the world of a cold case investigator. Detroit Detective Riley St. James has been sent to the small town of Derby, MI to investigate the gruesome rape and murder of seventeen-year-old Nina Laramie from thirty years ago. What she encounters when she arrives is a town full of secrets and desperate to keep them. Only a few seem happy that the case is being reopened. Even the local detective assigned to assist her seems to be holding on to secrets of his own and agrees with the town that old news shouldn’t be dredged up. Is there anybody she can trust? And since her own secrets seem to be forcing their way to the surface at the worse times, can she even trust herself?

For readers interested in forensics, Ms. Dornbush is an author to follow. Being the daughter of a coroner, she grew up playing around crime scenes and having blood samples and body parts stored around the house. We hear how old cold cases are being solved by advances in DNA testing, but in this story, we see that even after thirty years, good old detective work and forensics can still come through.

This will also be a good read for people who enjoy well-developed characters. Dornbush switches the POVs in her chapters letting us further into the thoughts and fears of the characters. These are not your too-regular story with cardboard characters. Each character has their own secrets and motivations.

This story is based on a true event. At the end of the book, the author writes about meeting with the original victim’s father and tells how she used that to shape her own characters in the story. There is also a touching letter from the father describing his feelings.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the Cold Case Foundation who helps solve cold cases all around the world.

Tim Suddeth was the 2017 Jimmy Loftin Memorial Scholarship Award winner. He’s currently working on his fourth novel. He currently blogs for The Write Conversation and is trying to make a dent in his to-read bookcases. You can follow him at on his blog at timingreenville.com or on Twitter @TimSuddeth.