In the Woods

Tana French
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones. And look for French's new mystery, Broken Harbor, for more of the Dublin Murder Squad.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2017-08-29
Book Description As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours. Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox-his partner and closest friend-find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past. Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones. And look for French's new mystery, Broken Harbor, for more of the Dublin Murder Squad. The new novel from Tana French, The Secret Place, will be published by Viking on Sept 2nd, 2014. Editorial Reviews From Publishers Weekly Irish author French expertly walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller in her debut. When Katy Devlin, a 12-year-old girl from Knocknaree, a Dublin suburb, is found murdered at a local archeological dig, Det. Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, must probe deep into the victim's troubled family history. There are chilling similarities between the Devlin murder and the disappearance 20 years before of two children from the same neighborhood who were Ryan's best friends. Only Maddox knows Ryan was involved in the 1984 case. The plot climaxes with a taut interrogation by Maddox of a potential suspect, and the reader is floored by the eventual identity and motives of the killer. A distracting political subplot involves a pending motorway in Knocknaree, but Ryan and Maddox are empathetic and flawed heroes, whose partnership and friendship elevate the narrative beyond a gory tale of murdered children and repressed childhood trauma. (May) Copyright ® Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. From Booklist *Starred Review* Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, land the first big murder case of their police careers: a 12-year-old girl has been murdered in the woods adjacent to a Dublin suburb. Twenty years before, two children disappeared in the same woods, and Ryan was found clinging to a tree trunk, his sneakers filled with blood, unable to tell police anything about what happened to his friends. Ryan, although scarred by his experience, employs all his skills in the search for the killer and in hopes that the investigation will also reveal what happened to his childhood friends. In the Woods is a superior novel about cops, murder, memory, relationships, and modern Ireland. The characters of Ryan and Maddox, as well as a handful of others, are vividly developed in this intelligent and beautifully written first novel, and author French relentlessly builds the psychological pressure on Ryan as the investigation lurches onward under the glare of the tabloid media. Equally striking is the picture of contemporary Ireland, booming economically and fixated on the shabbiest aspects of American popular culture. An outstanding debut and a series to watch for procedural fans. Thomas Gaughan Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Reviewed: 2017-02-09
Ok while reading this book I'd give it four stars. Having finished it, I'm downgrading to three. It could be because I'm in that post-good-book wallow and I'm maybe unfairly saying "it's you, not me" to the book. And I think I'd even still recommend this book if only for the first 400 pages (out of 429). So without spoilers, if you like psychological thrillers with some great character development - you'll probably love this book too. It also reminded me a lot of [a:Stieg Larsson|706255|Stieg Larsson|http://photo.goodreads.com/authors/1246466225p2/706255.jpg]'s work - less detail oriented, but same kind of darkness and same kind of psychological twists and turns.

I was actually avoiding the books all the stores are comparing to Larsson if they involved formal police characters, because part of the attraction of Larsson's novels was the journalism and anti-police backdrop. French has proven me short sighted though and I will need to take another look at those other novels.

Having finished the novel there are three primary distinct reasons I feel unsettled. Only one of which, though, do I recognize as really warranted. Onto the spoilers.

1. After finding out that Rosalind is an honest to goodness psychopath, I really wanted more exploration of her character. In the context of the novel we don't need it - we're told what we need to know to understand her motives (or lack thereof) and her methods regarding Katy's murder. I'm fascinated by these characters whenever I run into them, though, so the lack of more background is frustrating. This novel was a like a tease. But, the novel also isn't about Rosalind - in fact, it would be ruinous to give that much away earlier in the story - so I understand why it wouldn't make sense to include these details. I almost want a companion novella that is just Rosalind's life. At any rate, I'm still left wanting and unsatisfied.

2. Like anyone who's a fan of romantic comedies like I am, I would have liked Cassie and Ryan to at least make up. I didn't really like them together romantically, but I did really like them together as partners. The fact that that was shot to hell with no nice resolution just kills me. Again, though, it makes sense for this story. I've come to expect that kind of resolution because of other stories, but it's unfair and untrue to expect that from every relationship. I didn't much like Ryan throughout most of the novel, but I as left feeling sorry for him: he kept his job on the force, but it sounds like it's pretty demeaning and excruciating now; he doesn't have any close friends and doesn't much seem to even have the social skills to make new ones. He should just quit his job and move away and start fresh, which maybe in the future he does - we're just not privy to it. Or maybe he can't bring himself to due to his ties to the area and his past. Unable to leave in the same way Jamie's and Peter's families were unable to leave. (I know that French's second novel, [b:The Likeness|1914973|The Likeness|Tana French|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255897334s/1914973.jpg|6504351], features Cassie in a new story and maybe readers find out in that book what comes of Ryan. Until then we're left to wonder what happens after he's finished narrating his story to us.) Plus I like Sam a lot, but I don't like him for Cassie at all.

3. I really am frustrated that we never got any further information on the Jamie/Peter disappearance. This is also the one point that I feel like is a warranted frustration. Maybe we're supposed to assume that it was Cathal and Shane (I trust that Jonathan had nothing to do with it), but for me at least there wasn't nearly enough evidence to really prove that to any satisfying extent. I'm also usually pretty good with ambiguity in stories - while I like tidy resolution, I can recognize when it's not needed or when it's an unrealistic expectation (see points 1 & 2 above, for example). This is one area that I feel almost betrayed by. For so many chapters we weave inside this decades old tragedy, hinting that it may be connected, and trusting that even if it's not connected - some more information will come to light. And nothing does. Absolutely nothing new is discovered. Some might say that the facts aren't what matter, it's Ryan's own relationship to his past that's important. Even if I concede that, I don't really think Ryan has a much better relationship to his past. I think he's retreated back to the point where he's given up searching for answers and is resigned to never knowing. Maybe that's best for him, but it's not any kind of growth. Plus, I don't really even concede that that should be the point of this back-story: in a psychological suspense thriller, I feel like readers have an expectation for some kind of explanation; and we're never given one in the matter of this case. Instead it was just a tool to make Ryan connected to Katy's own death and mystery and to make the novel more layered. Without any follow-up though it just feels almost cheap and makes me feel lied to. (Again, though, maybe [b:The Likeness|1914973|The Likeness|Tana French|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255897334s/1914973.jpg|6504351] follows up more. I've already compared the novel to [b:The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo|2429135|The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)|Stieg Larsson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1293975922s/2429135.jpg|1708725] and I know that that book had background we never discovered considering Lisbeth's past, while [b:The Girl Who Played with Fire|5060378|The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2)|Stieg Larsson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1293976153s/5060378.jpg|6976108] uncovered more of that for readers.)


So that's about it. A good book and a well-written story, but left wanting in some key areas.
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