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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

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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!

53 people found this helpful

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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.

26 people found this helpful

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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!

17 people found this helpful

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A different Mark Dawson!

With 33 books by Mark Dawson in my Audible library I may seem a fan of his novels and novellas. I used to be back in 2014, 2015, and 2016, but then I grew frustrated by the decreasing quality of his plots especially in his John Milton series. His earlier John Milton novels as well as his Beatrix Rose novels were outstanding, but the quality decline in the Milton series caused me to stop listening.

With A House in the Woods author Mark Dawson is suddenly back better than ever. This is an outstanding mystery novel that is very different from the action and adventure novels previously released by Dawson. It has a deeper and more sophisticated plot than any of his prior novels. I'm almost two years late listening to it. I'm glad I finally gave the Atticus Priest series a try.

Narrator Simon Vance is superb as usual.

14 people found this helpful

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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

14 people found this helpful

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Excellent story, but...

Some serious moral qualms about the two leads. The way they handled/approved of handling a sexual abuse survivor is just bloody awful. And then when (spoiler) certain events showed it have been completely in vain anyway, they didn't even have the decency to feel bad about it. Very troubling.

Other than that and one instance of very convenient but unrealistic phrasing (a character recapping his devious scheme in detail in writing) ...this was a nice, tight mystery, with excellent narration. I bought book two, and can't wait to read it.

Also, the tidbit about Jack of Hearts is fascinating, and can't wait to see what comes of that.

10 people found this helpful

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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.

9 people found this helpful

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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.


8 people found this helpful

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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

7 people found this helpful

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A disappointment for several reasons.

The book got off to an intriguing start but after about 30 minutes it started to go downhill. First of all the major character is supposed to be a brilliant private investigator, who is a former police officer and a rogue. He was definitely not brilliant. He supposedly has this gift of observation, but there was nothing in the book that convinced me of this. Second of all his relationship with his former boss, a woman police officer, , whom he had an affair with, was also very stereotyped. Thirdly the story has a very offensive stereotype of the only gay man in the whole story. The narration was very good, the best thing about the book. For the rest of it you have to suspend belief and bite the bullet to get through it. I will not listen to another book by the author.

4 people found this helpful

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  • George
  • 06-01-20

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 .

12 people found this helpful

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  • Stella
  • 05-22-20

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. 👍👍👍👏👏👏

7 people found this helpful

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  • K
  • 07-24-20

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!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Gerry Lynch
  • 06-18-20

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Michele
  • 06-13-20

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • crochetdiva
  • 07-11-20

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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  • John Stroud
  • 09-04-20

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

2 people found this helpful

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  • Carôle
  • 07-08-21

Unputdownable!

This is the first in an absolutely promising series by Mark Dawson. If you have read any of his previous books you will know that he knows how to write. This is a different take on the genre that he is famous for but no less superintendent its captivating capacity. I read it in one sitting! Not because it was an exciting, adrenaline filled, fast paced rush - quite the opposite - no, because it is throughly engrossing, with complicated lead characters and equally complex secondary characters.

Atticus Priest is going to be someone we will be plumbing the depths of for awhile. We know so little about him and yet we know so much… he lives where he works, with his dog, Ba it. He’s behind in his rent and he has a previous solved case, where the convicted felon has absconded, playing in the back burner of his mind. He has Asperger Syndrome, so he sees things (& processes the same), in a different way to the rest of us.

Fortunately he is hired for a case to review the police work of his former colleagues (& boss), in a seemingly straightforward murder case, that has already had 1 conclusive suspect. Or maybe not! It’s complicated! Watching Atticus work his way around the case is interesting and unputdownable.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-07-20

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-04-21

Loved It

I absolutely loved it! So cleverly constructed! OK, so I did guess the end but I do read a lot of this genre! Mark Dawson just gets it right.... EVERY. SINGLE. TIME! I do hope we get to see more from Priest. He is fascinating in a modern day Poirot-esque kinda way... if Poirot and Strike had a love child you'd get Priest!

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  • Bronte65
  • 06-02-20

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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  • Gina
  • 05-21-20

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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  • Carolyn Thomas
  • 07-01-20

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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  • michael
  • 05-28-20

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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bonita N. Jones
  • 10-30-20

Atticus, far too smart, far too vulnerable

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