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Publisher's Summary

Four murders. Two detectives. One mystifying crime.

On Christmas Eve, DCI Mackenzie Jones is called to a shooting at a remote farmhouse. Ralph Mallender believes his father lies dead inside. When three more bodies are discovered, it's clear a festive family gathering has turned into a gruesome tragedy. 

At first it seems like an open-and-shut case: a murder suicide committed by Ralph's volatile brother Cameron. Then new evidence makes Mack suspect the man who reported the crime is in fact the perpetrator. 

But Mack isn't the only one with a stake in the case. Private investigator Atticus Priest has been hired to get Ralph acquitted. That means unearthing any weaknesses in Mack's evidence.

Irascible, impatient, and unpredictable, Atticus has weaknesses of his own. Mack knows all about them because they share a past - both professionally and personally. This time round, however, they aren't on the same side. And as Atticus picks at the loose ends of the case, everything starts to unravel in a way neither of them could ever have predicted....

©2020 Unputdownable Limited (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about The House in the Woods

Average Customer Ratings
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    1 out of 5 stars
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Elderly PI

The story is slow and boring. The Narrator is obviously elderly so makes all the characters sound old - an old PI, an old DCI etc. I am in my 60s so not an ageist, but a really old cast of characters is too ridiculous for words. With all due respect to the Narrator, the story might have been lifted by an age-appropriate voice. My money was badly spent.

3 people found this helpful

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Can’t wait for the next one!

I really enjoyed this! Looking forward to whatever Atticus and Mack get up to next... Well-drawn characters with a rewardingly twisty plot!

2 people found this helpful

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Very intriguing story

This story kept us engrossed while on a 3500klm trip up north of Western Australia.

1 person found this helpful

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Atticus, far too smart, far too vulnerable

Can't wait to get into the next exciting rollercoaster of a ride that is Atticus

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    4 out of 5 stars

A bit slow

I am not sure whether it was the narrator or unnecessary details and dialogue. I guess a combination of both.
The story was ok although not completely original and to a certain extent predictable.

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Profile Image for VA Barnhill - Author
  • VA Barnhill - Author
  • 10-06-2020

Pure reading enjoyment

I began my Mark Dawson fan girl status reading The Black Mile. I loved that story, so I searched for more Dawson books. That’s when I discovered John Milton, Beatrix and Isabella Rose, and his Other well developed supporting characters. This was five years ago.

Now that I’ve read The House in the Woods, I discover that I’ve waited five years for this story, which I didn’t realize until I finished reading it. As wonderful and engaging as all of Mark’s books are, I have to admit that there’s just that something in this style of writing that takes him one tiny notch above the rest of his excellent stories. It seems to me that this genre surfaces from somewhere deep inside his vastly creative self.

Atticus Priest is a layered and relatable main character, flawed in all the ways we humans are flawed. Just when I thought I’d figured it out, the story turns another corner.

Thank you for writing this book, and I hope I don’t have to wait five more years for the next one in this style!

20 people found this helpful

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  • EveryContinent
  • 25-05-2020

Impressive new characters, more please!

Ah, joy. My first Mark Dawson book and will now listen to everything he’s written. Hard not to become invested right away with the protagonists. Clever plotting. Atticus puts me in mind of Cormoran Strike. Icing on the cake is Simon Vance’s narration of course.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Joyce Eriksen
  • 09-09-2020

A new protagonist,

Not another action hero have we here. Instead a well thought out character of charm. Mr Dawson is a true novelist. Plot, movement and character are each well drawn and well played. Of course Simon Vance is the added fillip to the mix. Well done!

7 people found this helpful

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  • Trish R.
  • 01-05-2021

Good story and narration..

I liked aspects of this book but not others. I did like Atticus Priest BUT I didn't like that he was fired from the police force for smoking pot AND I didn't like that he had an affair with his former boss Mackenzie Jones, who was still living with her husband, with their two kids at that time.

I wasn't surprised at the one killer but I was shocked at the other one.

There was no romance, since it was over between Atticus and Mack when the book started, so I can't see why it was even part of the story! And the F-bomb was used 2 times.

As for the narration: Simon Vance was a great narrator, as far as the voices went, but when a book you're reading says someone "laughed" it seems pretty silly to just read the word without sounding a little like you are laughing. IMO

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Giotto
  • 04-03-2021

Fantastic

Great story and terrific narration
One of very few books I read or hear that I didn’t figure out until the ending and by the way great characters

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • jmn1974
  • 10-02-2021

A little to familiar

This was an entertaining book but, Atticus Priest is a mix of Cormoran Strike, some Harry Hole and, some Sherlock Holmes for good measure. I’d recommend any one of those over this. All in all it was decent.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sabina B.
  • 18-01-2021

Mark Dawson never disappoints

Although some events were rehashed to the extreme, the story continued to intrigue.
Priest’s deductions were fascination.....Even inspired to more careful observations in one’s own circumstances.
To hear the story well read -rather than to reading it- brought precise (but at times tedious) description of surroundings to life.


3 people found this helpful

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  • Charles Rower
  • 21-06-2020

Only the narrator saves the day

I never knew precisely wha the performance rating was for. I have always assumed it was for the narrator, which in this case is why the five stars. Absolutely exceptional.

And if you happen to be an Agatha Christie fan the whole book is probably close to 5 stars. But the low number of reviews for this book tells the story. For some inexplicable reason Mark Dawson seems to have abandoned his breakthrough success run of his Beatrix Rose, Isabella Rose and John Milton Series to switch from action thrillers to mystery tale land.

So now Mark Dawson is venturing out and trying a new market, which if that is his cup of tea, that's his choice. But if he doesn't head back toward the direction form which he came, he is surely going to disappoint a previous very large following.

Here's one prior fan that hope he finds his way back home.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Margaret
  • 28-02-2021

Great story

I’am a great fan of Mark Dawson’s writings. His John Milton series is one of the best and one of my favorites. This series is going to be just as good, even if it’s quite different than the Milton series, but that’s what makes a great author. Looking forward to the next book in this series.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Margaret
  • 10-06-2020

Really good but really predictable.

I hope there are more Atticus Priest books in the future. This was really good, albeit quite predictable. Vance was spectacular as usual.

2 people found this helpful

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  • George
  • 01-06-2020

Saved by the narrator .

This is positive proof that employing a first rate narrator can rescue a book that is far from being anything like convincing . Without Simon Vance this would have been just another mediocre effort .

10 people found this helpful

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  • Stella
  • 22-05-2020

Wow! Just Wow!!!!

Another brilliant and electrifying story from the pen of master storyteller Mark Dawson. Atticus Priest - Book 1. I hope we don’t have to be on the edges of our seats for too long before No.2 appears.
Fantastic at every level and a great narrator too. 👍👍👍👏👏👏

5 people found this helpful

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  • crochetdiva
  • 11-07-2020

Move over Sherlock Holmes

I never thought I would see the day when I read this book and thought 'move over Sherlock, there is a new sleuth in town.' This has to be the best book Mark Dawson has written, in my opinion, and I've read them all. I can't wait to read more in this series. I started it just after 10 pm, and didn't stop until 7.40 am when it had finished playing. It was so worth a sleepless night!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Gerry Lynch
  • 18-06-2020

Great novel

Previously I have read the John Milton series as I don't usually read ordinary crime novels. Glad I tried this one. Excellent read full of twists and full of Mark's touches. The narration was great, Simon Vance has a great delivery. The book was of a similar feel to P D James novels of Cordelia Gray.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-06-2020

Brilliant

Another well written novel by Mark Dawson, as always very well detailed. There’s twists and turns that kept me on the edge of my seat. Also an inkling of a background story that leaves you guessing.

3 people found this helpful

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  • K
  • 24-07-2020

Derivative.

The opening section, which presents the reader with the protagonist Atticus Finch, comes uncomfortably close to plagiarism. Having read the Robert Galbraith novels, Atticus is almost an identikit for Cormoran Strike in The Cuckoo's Calling. Similar grubby office in which he lives without a shower, recent dismissal from a policing related job, complicated past relationship and even a 'disability': where Strike is an amputee, Finch is medicated for Asperger's, Finch's side-kick is not Robin but a former lover, DCI 'Mac' Jones.

Having said that the book was alright, a reasonably engaging bit of light detective fiction. Entertaining enough, I would say, but not much more. I didn't feel particularly invested in any of the characters so it was left to the plot to jolly us along, which it did enough for me to finish it. The narrator's alright, too but makes a lot of the characters sound old.

The most creepy thing about this book, though, was the clear attempt by Dawson to challenge gender stereotypes by giving DCI Jones a down-trodden and neglected stay at home husband. He undermines this however, by constantly putting Mac in a subordinate role to Finch. Even down to the uncomfortable scene in a pub where she says 'no' several times to Finch asking her if she'd like another drink only for him to bring her one anyway. It's that sad old message that women are sick of seeing: that a woman's 'no' is taken to mean 'yes' even by supposedly intelligent men. Sheesh!

2 people found this helpful

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  • John Stroud
  • 04-09-2020

I lived in Wilton so could live within this book

I always enjoy Mark Dawson. Is there a Book 2 soon ?? Iived and worked in Wilton and Salisbury and felt I could follow the author 's narrative with ease

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-06-2020

Wow, great book!

Listened to it in one day, really enjoyed it. Mark Dawson usually writes a good book but this one is great.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Marion G.
  • 18-06-2021

Slow and far too deliberate narration

Such a shame when the narrator with the nice voice just doesn't do justice to the tone of the book. Needed someone who could inject some spark into the novel as the story was good. Perhaps the dialogue was the problem but Simon did little to help and spoiled my listening pleasure. For me, narration is the key and without that impetus, I find it hard to be bothered. As I said, such a shame.

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  • Nick spreadbury
  • 15-06-2021

Another great series from Mark Dawson

Having read / listened to the John Milton series I was hopeful this would deliver in the same way. Disappointed I was not......combined with the setting in and around Salisbury where I grew up for 25 odd years, just made it all the better.
Mark is a great writer and i really enjoy the books. The narrator Simon Vance also really enigerises this book and brings the characters to life. Glad I listened to this and can't wait to get stuck into the next one in the series.

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