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In The Forest Of Harm by Sallie Bissell - Book Review


In The Forest Of Harm
Sallie Bissell
Bantam USA

Fiction-Net Rating 5 Star Rated Book

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Cover Story

Mary "Killer" Crow is going home to North Carolina. There the tough young Cherokee prosecutor and her two closest friends will hike a beautiful but demanding wilderness trail.

They will be followed into the mountains by a man obsessed with revenge and they will become the prey of another man, a ruthless predator, who thrills to the hunt.

Soon they will be pushed to the limits of their endurance and beyond as they discover their own chilling capacity for loyalty and violence.

We Say

It is not uncommon for a plot of a novel or movie to include the stalking of a woman by a deranged killer. The B movie genre is filled with innocent and completely stupid women running into the woods in high heels while some maniac is trying to kill them. Thankfully, this is not one of those novels.

Yes, Sallie Bissell's debut novel, In The Forest Of Harm, is about three women pursued by deranged men. However, it is not a novel about three stupid women running through the forest. Rather, In The Forest Of Harm is a book about the friendship that these women share that provides them with a strength they did not know they possessed.

Sallie Bissell avoids using any clichés in the creation of Mary Crow. Although Mary is of Cherokee descent, Bissell does not fill the novel with Mary's unusual abilities because she is a Cherokee. Instead, Mary's past provides the insight into why she has become the woman she is. Fallible and far from perfect, Mary is not obsessed with her looks or her career - she is haunted by the murder of her mother and the lack of closure due to the unsolved case. Woven into Mary's tale is her Cherokee beliefs without fanfare or stereotyping.

In Joan and Alex, Mary's closest friends, Sallie Bissell creates characters that compliment Mary. While these women are not at home in the woods like Mary, they are not completely helpless. All three women draw on the strength of the others at crucial moments in order to save each other's lives. What is perhaps the most gratifying aspect of these women is that the author does not make them perfect. She shows us their bad sides when terror strikes and then allows them to redeem themselves just when the chips are down. Sallie Bissell relates the experiences of these women in painfully graphic detail and at times, it makes the reader long to put aside the horror but Bissell's skill as a writer makes it impossible to stop reading.

There are two men who hunt these women. One is bent on revenge, the other is a psychopath that does not hesitate to kill. They must defeat both men to survive. One man is educated and wealthy, the other an outcast but both are capable of the unthinkable. Sallie Bissell has provided insight into the twisted thinking of each predator making them come alive for the reader in horrifying detail.

Reading this novel is akin to watching a well made horror and suspense movie. You may be terrified to watch what is going to happen and you may long to look away - but you can't. You are compelled to watch each graphic event, even if you are peeking between your fingers, covering your face. You have no choice, because Sallie Bissell has skillfully drawn you into her tale.

In The Forest Of Harm is one of those books that you will want to read in one sitting. Do not make the mistake of beginning it too late in the evening or you just may be reading until the wee hours of the morning. In the Forest of Harm may be Bissell's debut novel but what a novel it is. I can hardly wait until her next book comes out.

Review by: Yumi Nagasaki-Taylor

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