‘Big Woods’ by May Cobb

Big Woods by May Cobb is a mystery wrapped in 80s nostalgia. In east Texas, a girl is missing, and the story unfolds through dual perspectives: the girl’s teen sister, and a local woman with long-dormant ties to the family. A desperate search ensues, and is not without consequences.

The debut novel’s strengths include an engaging story, a flowing pace, and plausible clues. The reader feels the emotions of the family who struggles in the absence of the youngest daughter. The reactions of the town and law enforcement provide subplots that feel fitting for the genre, but not overwrought. Secondary characters are fully realized; behaviors are nuanced and ring true.

The specter of satanic cult activity looms, drawing upon real-life widespread paranoia that gripped the nation in the 80s. Themes of conspiracy, lies, and denial are smartly woven throughout the story.

I’m drawn to any mystery or thriller set in Texas; bonus if it’s a jaunt back into a horror-stricken, atmospheric 80s town with lush and eerie woods as a character.