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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

What Waits In The Woods

Narrators: Christina Moore, Leah Horowitz Recorded Books

ISBN: 9781496738592

Publisher: Kensington

Publication Date: 12/26/2023

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

In this riveting thriller from a new master of suspense, a young dancer’s homecoming is marred by a grisly discovery—and the realization that nothing in her past may be quite what she believed.

When Esmé Foster left the Boston suburbs to become a professional ballerina, the future shimmered with promise. Eleven years later, her career has been derailed by an injury, and Esme knows it’s time to come back to Graybridge to help her brother care for their ailing father. But her return coincides with an unthinkable crime. Kara Cunningham, one of Esme’s high school friends, is found dead in the woods behind the Fosters’ house.

Esmé is shocked and grieving, but also uneasy. In her dreams, she still sees the man who showed up at the scene of the car accident that killed her mother—and told Esmé he was going to kill her too. Family and friends insisted the figure was a product of Esmé’s imagination, that she was concussed after the crash. But she and Kara looked alike, sharing the same petite build, the same hair color. Could Kara’s murder have been a case of mistaken identity?

Detective Rita Myers is familiar with close-knit communities like Graybridge, where, beneath the friendliness, there are whispers and secrets. The town has seen other tragedies too, including the long-ago drowning of a young girl in a pond, deep in the woods. Even within the once-close circle of friends that included Kara and Esmé, Rita discerns a ripple of mistrust.

Day by day, Esmé discovers more about the place she left behind—and the friends and family she thought she knew. Soon, shining a light into the darkness to learn what happened the night Kara died is the only way she can bring the nightmare to an end.

My Review

Terri Parlato returns following All The Dark Places with her popular Detective Rita Myers series #2, WHAT WAITS IN THE WOODS —a dark and twisty tale that grips you from the beginning to the end. A young woman ballet dancer returns home to find another mystery in a town she swore she would never return.


With unexpected plot twists, atmospheric and psychologically rich, a mysterious dance between past and present.

Esmé Foster left the Boston suburbs to become a professional ballerina, leaving her hometown behind. Eleven years later, she returned to Graybridge due to an injury that halted her career.

She needs to help her brother take care of her dying father and reluctantly moves back. But she is not welcomed by some in the small town who still live as though they are back in high school.

Upon her return, there is a murder of Kara Cunningham, one of Esme's high school friends, found dead in the woods behind their family home.

There has been much grief in Esme's life from one of her childhood friends, her mom killed in a car accident, a grief-stricken (alcoholic) father, and now this.

Esme still sees someone in her dreams from the night of the car accident, warning they would kill her, too. She and Kara looked alike. Could she have been the intended target?

Years ago, a young girl (her friend) drowned in a pond in the woods. These girls, a close circle of friends, were connected. Secrets, lies, betrayal, and deception emerge from the past in this chilling suburban domestic thriller where nothing is as it appears.

Detective Rita Myers is on the case. Who is the murderer, what is the motive, and will Esmé be next? Will Detective Rita Myers be able to save her before it is too late?

Atmospheric, the author sets the mood for this multi-layered cop procedural where the past collides with the present. #CoverLove A whodunit and whydunit.

WHAT WAITS IN THE WOODS can be read as a standalone; however, I recommend you read both books. I enjoyed the wrap-up, Esmé's character, and Detective Rita!

There are a lot of red herrings, suspects, and dysfunctional characters keeping you guessing. Told from alternating POV: Rita and Esmé and lots of jealousy by the local townspeople in this small town. I look forward to seeing what comes next from this talented author.

For fans of Kate Alice Marshall's What Lies in the Woods and No One Can Know.

Thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 4 Stars

Pub Date: Dec 26, 2023


“A failed ballerina’s return home is turned upside down by the appearance of a dead body in her family’s yard…Parlato piles on the rumors, menace, and revelations.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Parlato’s multidimensional characters and effective use of red herrings will keep readers invested right up to the gasp-worthy conclusion.”

—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

All the Dark Places author Terri Parlato was born and raised in upstate New York. She currently lives in a small north Georgia town with her husband and their dog, Lucy. She spends her time writing, reading, and visiting craft breweries with her husband.

Inspired by the small towns of New England, All the Dark Places is set in the fictional town of Graybridge, Massachusetts. Terri is a die-hard history nerd and loves exploring Boston and the surrounding areas. She has even located the grave of her six times great-grandfather in a small cemetery in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where generations of her family lived before moving to upstate New York.

Terri holds a BA in English Education from the State University of New York at Albany and an MS in Technical Writing from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While she has always been a writer, Terri spent most of her professional career as a high school English teacher. She and her husband have three children. Terri is an animal lover, baseball fan and a rock music enthusiast.







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