This Character-Driven Mystery Set in the ’70s Is Perfect For Summer Reading

a graphic of the cover of The God of the Woods covera graphic of the cover of The God of the Woods cover

The God of the Woods by Liz Moore

As a kid, I spent every summer at the same camp, wandering around the West Virginia hills, singing camp songs, and gossiping about the goings-on with my friends. So when I heard that Liz Moore’s next novel was set at a summer camp, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

The Gods of the Woods is a novel set at a summer camp owned by a wealthy family. In August 1975, Barbara Van Laar, the daughter of the camp’s owners, goes missing. But she isn’t the first Van Laar child to disappear. Over a decade before, her brother went missing, too. Now, the whole camp is looking for Barbara, but the police begin to think that she might not want to be found, just another teenage runaway. But Detective Judy, the only woman detective in her precinct, isn’t so sure.

Moore’s latest novel illustrates how she imbues her characters with such emotional depth. There’s Louise, the working-class camp counselor who first notices that Barabara is missing. After her father became too ill to work, T.J. Hewitt took over his job as the groundskeeper and camp director. Alice, Barbara’s mother, spends her days in a pill-fueled haze, hiding from her own secrets.

From its first pages, I was sucked into the story. The summer camp evokes days spent in the hot sun playing cabin unity games or canoeing on the lake. But more than that, Moore captures ideas around class, wealth, and privilege. Who’s assumed to have taken the Van Laar kids? Whose word is believed over another?

Perfect for fans of character-driven mysteries, The God of the Woods is a riveting novel, one of Moore’s best.

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