The Last Woman in the Forest

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 May 2019

Member Reviews

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for giving me an ARC of this book in return for a review. 

This book follows Marian who appears to be struggling to figure out her life and a career.  She loves dogs and nature which leads her to a position with a conservation crew studying wildlife in Montana.
She learns a lot from the other people on her team and begins to form a relationship with her mentor Tate. After his tragic death, questions start to arise about him that Marian can't answer. There are too many connections between Tate and a string of women that have been killed. She turns to retired forensic profiler Nick Shepard, who is fighting his own demons, to try to clear Tate's name if only in her own heart. Will he help her prove the man she loved blameless or make her never be able to trust her instinct again?  The book jumps around a lot and is fairly predictable but a decent read.
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So, after reading the author's note in the afterword, I feel really bad giving this book a less than stellar review, because oh boy... this author has been through a lot in her life. To come through what she has experienced and to process it all through a novel is a beautiful thing, and she has my complete respect. However, I have to be honest and say this book fell totally flat for me. In fact, the afterword was a heck of a lot more interesting than the actual book.

Quick synopsis. Marian is an independent strong woman who has taken a low-paying job in the wilderness looking for animal scat that can be used for conservationist research. She loves dogs, and in this microcosm of a social unit. the dog handlers are highly respected. She meets Tate, one of the handlers, and falls in love with him. But a bunch of women have gone missing in the area in the past few years. And as their relationship progresses, he starts to act kind of weird. When something horrible happens to Tate, Marian starts to wonder if maybe he was the killer...

Marian. I just don't get her. I get what she was SUPPOSED to be, but her character isn't well-developed enough to pull that off. Nick, the detective who is working the case, is the most interesting character. He's fighting a losing battle with a glioblastoma, but his work on earth isn't done until he can name this killer. I would have loved to have had less info about dogs and wild animal poop, and more about Nick. 

There is a kind of fun little twist at the end, but it's not really all that shocking. I just kept hoping the pace would pick up, but this one didn't work for me.
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The setting of a book is a big important thing to me especially if outdoors such as Alaska or Montana. Even  Mountain climbing or river rafting or tracking a lost hiker like this book so long as action happens then I am captivated. This author's last book Breaking Wild was very much worth rereading because it was awesome. The woman in the Forest is already up on my best book for 2019 list.  If you like nature books along with suspense and edge of your seat excitement try both of these books. You will not be able to put them down!  Thanks for reading my review.
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Although flagged as a suspense thriller, there was not a lot of suspense. To me, it read more like women’s fiction. I loved that I learned quite a bit about conservation work.
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I did on Amazon this morning.  Not sure if it shows up yet.
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There’s a serial killer in the west, and Marianne begins to think he may be her boyfriend. Marianne works as a dog handler on conservation projects and meets Tate, a fellow dog handler and apparently her soul-mate. When Tate dies, she learns that Tate had lied to her about many things. Did she really know him at all? A psychological thriller, in a beautiful setting, told in a hopscotch manner, jumping between past and present, The Last Woman in the Forest was really not suspenseful until close to the end. It was interesting and well-written, but don’t look for nail-biter.
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The first couple of chapters were interesting but I could not get past that. This is a psychological thriller but not written in a manner that is very suspenseful.  The writing is nice and the scenery is described very well but just wasn’t my cup of tea. 

I would like to thank NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
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"It’s a terrible thing to have loved someone and not know the extent to which you have been deceived… " (Marian Engström)

Marian Engström scanned the seasonal conservation job listings for her next position. Her latest job had taken her to South Padre Island, Texas to rescue sea turtles but the contract ended and time to move along.

As a dog lover, she was pleased to find a position with Conservation Canines through the University of Washington. The study would be in the bitter sub-zero cold of the snowy mountains near Alberta where oil exploration in oil sands was taking place. The team of dog handlers and trip orienteers would be based out of Whitefish, Montana in a place the group called “The Den”.

Marian, and the other orienteers, would assist the dog handlers setting up trip navigation in designated zones locating wolf, caribou and moose scat, bagging each detected specimen, and charting the waypoints. The purpose of the study is to examine the effects of the oil drilling on the wildlife in the area. This aspect of the novel is well researched and reads a little bit clinical but very interesting.

The book opens with the vividly described murder of a trusting young woman charmed by someone she perceived to be a good Samaritan. Labeling the murdered girl, (Stillwater) Victim #1, alerts the reader to watch for clues. One of the primary or secondary characters is a serial killer!

We meet Marian six months after she has moved to the Whitefish base camp. She is wading into Bull Creek sprinkling the ashes of her boyfriend and dog handler, Tate, and watching them flow downstream. The accident that caused his death unknown to the reader.

"It was a beautiful spot…Tate had chosen this location…had pressed the river rock against her palm and asked her to remember."

Marian stands in the cold stream reflecting on their brief relationship with its sweet and sour tones. Heading back to camp, she’s left with an edgy feeling that something was off.  Did he really loved her as much as she loved him? Where to begin to unravel her contradictory feelings?

Tate would share life stories with her making her cry in sympathy for him. One tear-jerker described a stray dog he adopted as a child that died after falling into a swift stream.  Another time, out of the blue, he tells her he found the body of one of the four Stillwater murders. She decides to confirm the accuracy of this story to ease her mind.

She contacts Nick Shepard, a retired forensic profiler, known to be intimately involved in the Stillwater murder investigations. Although he is dying of cancer, a fact he tries to keep from her, he agrees to help confirm or dispel the facts of Tate’s story.

With Marian and Nick narrating, the story gymnastically flips back and forth in time beginning when Tate picked her up at the airport and ultimately reach present day where we learn about Tate’s fate. Juxtaposed between Marian and Nick’s chapters are vivid tales of the other three unsolved Stillwater murders that may be a bit disturbing to some people. The final chapters pull together loose threads leading to a dramatic conclusion.

The isolation and loneliness were palpable. Survival was not so much the result of luck as it was of skill and training. The overarching themes of observation and situational awareness crisscrossed Marian’s job as well as her personal life. Was she as gullible as it seemed or was she out maneuvered by mastermind of evil? Surrounded by macho mountain men with personalities like Jeremiah Johnson, was it easy for a young woman to be drawn to a man seemly devoted to her? Did Nick find peace for the families of the murdered girls?

A good solid book worthy of a read. There’s something for everyone -love, friendship, trust and distrust, murder, dogs, freezing cold and stark wilderness settings.
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Good story with lots of twists. 
This book is written in a different manner than what we see in a typical suspense thriller or murder mystery. This book reads more as a women’s fiction story that evolves into something much more sinister.

Written in short sentences with a timeline that bounces back-and-forth between the present and the past, you have to be on your toes when reading this novel.

The author sneaks in tiny drips of clues and information. Just enough to make you doubt your gut feelings and wonder where the story is actually going.

Interesting and very unique, we get a birds-eye view of the job that those in conservation work truly do. The wonder of nature and the studies of animals and wildlife in their natural habitat is a huge part of the story.

But then you begin to wonder if everyone is as they truly seem to be. Women are dying and one woman in particular is very suspicious. Doubts sneak in as the man she truly loves seems to be the one responsible, or is it someone that she works with?

The story is written with deep subtlety that forces you to pay attention and keeps you completely engaged, wondering what’s next.

While the timeline bouncing back-and-forth does get to you and can frustrate you, it also heightens the suspense and brings in those chilling feelings and tell-tale creepy feels as the story winds up.

The author created a remarkable novel that is one of a kind tale of psychotic personalities that can completely consume you. Definitely not a book you will soon forget.
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I had not anticipated the suspense of this title, which in hindsight, I should have expected.  I read the prologue and found myself disturbed and did not read the remainder of the title.  It is strictly a personal preference and no reflection of the author or substance of the work.  I will recommend it to fellow readers who enjoy a hair-raising tale, but it simply was not right for me.
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Is Marian dating the love of her life or a serial killer? After his death she finds more and more clues that make it look as though he may be a twisted serial killer. But was he? This psychological thriller isn't narrated by a woman who is unreliable, drunk or on medication. This one speaks for the women victimized who want to take their own power back.
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#TheLastWomanInTheForest# by: Diane LesBesquets. 
Review by: I Love To Read:Librarian
Thank you, NetGalley, for the opportunity to read this thriller in exchange for an honest review.
Marian Edgnstrom lives close to nature in her pursuit of becoming a dog handler in the wild. These well trained dogs work hard helping document the number of wild animals in any given area.
It's a highly skilled occupation as well as a lonely one. Few people populate the various camps the dog handlers occupy. Marion meets Tate, a handsome dog handler. She's attracted to him and so pleased when he takes her under his wing to share his expertise with her. It isn't long before she's head-over-heels for Tate.
During the past four women have been brutally murdered in the surrounding wilderness. These deaths worry Marion. So much so she seeks the help of a retired profiler. She and this profiler become friends as they compare facts. With the profilers' help, the murderers' possible identity emerges, placing Marion in jeopardy because others in the camps know she's snooping.
She comes face-to-face with the killer. The author takes us to a harrowing finale.  A real nail-biter. Will Marion survive or will she become victim no. five?
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Thank you to Netgalley for this book. I really enjoyed it. I loved the MC Marian and the villain was really good too (not going to say who - spoilers!). I also loved the description of the various wildlife and locations they visited. Great ending too!
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This is the first book I have read by Diane Le Becquest and I am not sure what to say other than I am going to pick up all of her mystery books from now on.  The book isn't perfect and I found things that had me wondering if it was the story or the authors writing style but I will admit readers will not be disappointed  as they follow Marian Edgnstom as discover the man she loved wasn't the man she thought he was.  The story moves though different time tables which is difficult for any author who is telling a story.   Which is way I said the story isn't perfect and story might not be for every readers.

The author is very descriptive and details the scenes and animals in the story. 


Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy of Diane Les Becquets  The Last Woman in the Forest
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A fully fleshed out idea, where characters always come first, helps this mystery’s biggest twists land with resounding knock-out power. I cannot see what’s next from Diane Les Becquets. She’s managed to land on my must-read list.
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Marian Engstrom works with a group that uses rescue dogs to detect scat that indicates species abundance and distribution. The process allows for monitoring threatened or endangered species around the world. 

On an assignment to northern Alberta, Marian falls in love with Tate. When they are on separate assignments, word arrives of Tate's death. Marian is devastated, but as she becomes aware of inconsistencies in Tate's life, she finds herself with questions concerning the unsolved murders of several women.

Needing to have her questions answered and put to rest, she contacts a retired forensic profiler to clear her unwanted suspicions. The pov shifts between Marian and Nick Sheppard, the profiler hired to resolve Marian's doubts.

The information about training and working with dogs used for conservation purposes is fascinating. Marian's innate connection with dogs and Nick's deep relationship with his wife add to the depictions of the two main characters. The suspense is a slow burn, and although you may suspect some of the twists, the novel is compelling.

This is the second novel I've read recently concerning dogs trained to detect scat for conservation purposes. Christine Carbo's A Sharp Solitude also has a scat detection dog as an important plot element.

I intend to look for Les Becquets first novel Breaking Wild.

Read in September, 2018; review scheduled for February 25, 2019. 

NetGalley/Berkeley Publishing
Suspense. March 5, 2019. Print length: 352 pages.
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I am so excited to read The Last Woman in the Forest by Diane Les Becquets. From the cover alone I was instantly intrigued. Its a book about nature and murder and for someone who loves nature and loves murder/thriller/suspense, what could be better? And it features a dog lover!

Here is what you need to know:


Marian Engström has found her true calling: working with rescue dogs to help protect endangered wildlife. Her first assignment takes her to northern Alberta, where she falls in love with her mentor, the daring and brilliant Tate. After they’re separated from each other on another assignment, Marian is shattered to learn of Tate’s tragic death. Worse still is the aftermath in which Marian discovers disturbing inconsistencies about Tate’s life, and begins to wonder if the man she loved could have been responsible for the unsolved murders of at least four women.

Hoping to clear Tate’s name, Marian reaches out to a retired forensic profiler who’s haunted by the open cases. But as Marian relives her relationship with Tate and circles ever closer to the truth, evil stalks her every move.


I am so curious just reading this short synopsis! This book has been getting rave reviews and I look forward to snuggling up with my dogs and reading it.
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really liked it

I picked up The Last Woman in the Forest because the title and the the cover gave me the impression it was a survivor story, about a woman fighting to stay alive on her own, lost in the deep woods. Marian is a survivor, but it's not that kind of story at all. She's in the woods as a dog handler and is part of a research team, seldom alone, never lost, and always well equipped with all the amenities, including a GPS and satellite phone.

The novel starts with Marian scattering her dead lover's ashes in a stream deep in the backwoods, a spot he chose before he died. Afterward, she calls Nick, a famous Profiler, and tells him she's afraid the man she loved may have been a serial killer who preyed on women alone and left their bodies in the forest. She wants Nick to help her prove to herself that it isn't true. Despite her suspicians, she wants to believe Tate was a good man, because she loved him.

I may have liked the novel better if the story had stayed with Marian, instead of moving back and forth between her viewpoint and Nick's, an older man dying of brain cancer. Nick has a devoted and loving wife and although he should be relaxing in his retirement, he can't stop thinking about his unsolved cases, especially the murders of the young women left in the woods. Over the years he had written the life stories of each of the four victims, detailed accounts pulled from the evidence, multiple interviews, and his own imagination. Each report Nick wrote is included in the novel as a separate story and those four viewpoints further diffuse the tension of the tale begun with Marian. Nick is an interesting character on his own and I wanted to learn more about what happened to him. His storyline felt unfinished.

Marian's job as a dog handler doing research on the wildlife populations in the Northwest is a big part of this novel. The details can be fascinating, if you like reading about dogs and dog training.

Altogether a pretty good read. There's a twist at the end that should be surprising, but I saw it coming. You may not, so I won't spoil it for you.
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A marriage of nature and murder make up this story of a canine handler for conservation efforts and her belief that her deceased boyfriend is a serial killer. Filled with descriptions of various hikes and landscape along with psychological profiles of the victims, the atmosphere is foreboding. Not without its unexpected twists and turns, the investigation is not as straightforward as it first seems.

Copy provided by the Publisher and NetGalley
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I was granted access by to an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This book was hooked my in the first few pages, and I had a tough time putting it down! Intriguing and suspenseful, I'll recommend to all lovers of psychological thrillers!
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