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In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods (2007)

by Tana French

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Dublin Murder Squad (1)

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4,843339955 (3.77)401

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Showing 1-5 of 326 (next | show all)
Going to the bookstores on weekends provides me with ideas for books I want to read. Years back I saw Faithful Place, Tana French’s third book in her Dublin Murder Squad series. If a title and jacket description grabs me I usually check on the author’s other publications. For some reason I didn’t – it was enough for me that the story took place in Ireland and it was also a mystery. Love both.

Recently I finished In The Woods, French’s first book. The book starts with the story of three children who disappear in the woods one afternoon. Jamie, Adam and Peter are very tight friends and have always been so for the twelve years they have lived in the neighborhood. One day they go off playing and don’t come back. Parents start a search, the garda is called in and they eventually find Adam Ryan clinging to a tree, blood in his shoes and slash marks across his back. Jamie and Peter were never found. Detectives talk to Adam but he was so traumatized by what happened that he can’t recall anything.

Fast forward 22 years and we are introduced to Rob Ryan, a detective with the Dublin Murder Squad. Rob is actually Adam Robert Ryan, the boy who was terrorized in the woods many years ago. He goes by his middle name so there is no association of the case where his friends went missing many years ago. He and his partner Cassie Maddox are assigned to investigate the murder of a twelve year old Katy Devlin. Katy’s body is found near the same woods where Rob’s friends had disappeared. Katy is discovered during an archaeological dig. Could this be related to the previous crime?

Rob and Cassie continue on with the investigation even though they know Rob should come clean with the supervisors about his true identity. It’s a gritty story, a good mystery. Rob is obviously scarred by his childhood experience. He’s overall a likeable character but has some serious flaws when dealing with relationships, particularly those with women.

*Possible Spoiler*

I had read some reviews and noted there are a few people who were very disappointed that the first mystery remains unsolved. I was rather hoping you would have some closure on what happened to Rob/Adam and his friends Jamie and Peter. It’s still my hope that French will one day come back to Rob Ryan’s story and give us some closure on the disappearing kids. I will tell you the murder of Katy Devlin is solved despite some real groaners of frustration near the end. Overall I loved this book and as I have already read book 3 in this series, I guess I will tackle book 2 next. ( )
  SquirrelHead | Oct 29, 2014 |
Investigating a child murder, Detective Ryan returns for the first time to his childhood home, where his two best friends disappeared in a still-unsolved crime.

Here is yet another mystery with a terrific sense of place: a small suburb near Dublin that never was fully developed as promised. A housing estate encircles what used to be a small wood, now is an archaeological dig, and will soon be a highway. Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, go there to investigate the murder of a young girl, whose body was found on an altar-like slab of rock in the middle of the dig. This brings up suppressed memories for Ryan, who grew up in the same estate; he still can't remember what happened to his two friends one summer afternoon, when they disappeared and he was discovered in shock, with his sneakers full of blood. He has kept his identity secret from almost anyone, but even though it may jeopardize his career, he feels compelled to work this murder in case there is a connection between the two crimes. French does a terrific job of juxtaposing the mundane with the mysterious, and although the story never ventures into the realm of the paranormal, there is certainly an almost horrific atmosphere surrounding those woods. Ryan as the unreliable narrator also reveals himself to be a rather unlikeable character, but still a compelling one. This story seems most concerned with exposing the brutish, petty evil that can dwell within all of us, but some mysteries, alas, are left unresolved. French manages to leave the reader feeling satisfied despite this, but I'm not sure I want to continue on with these characters. Still, I enjoyed the page-turning suspense of [In the Woods] enough to feel tempted.

Read in 2014 for the RandomCAT challenge. ( )
  sturlington | Oct 11, 2014 |
This was a great book from a great author. I even like the way that the ending doesn't quite wrap things up as tightly as you'd normally expect. The unfolding story, and memories, are perfectly timed. The book engages from beginning to end. And lots of good information about sociopaths. If you can't invest in "the psychopath test" (but you should) then this should give you a pretty firm grip of the subject.

I wish I could read this again for the first time. If you're lucky enough to be looking at it for the first time - I envy you. ( )
1 vote kathay | Sep 26, 2014 |
This story links the bloody disappearance of two childhood friends and the lone survivor to a child killing twenty years later in the same locale. The lone survivor of the first case is the lead detective in the Murder Squad investigation into the newest case.

Only his partner knows of the link to the past. Clearly as he steadily comes apart mentally and emotionally, the detective has no business being involved in the case even though he is the one who successively solves the modern murder. ( )
1 vote cfk | Sep 10, 2014 |
I put off reading this book, and found the first three or four pages almost unreadable, but am so glad that I continued. The author's ability to create her own world, and express mood, are virtually unmatched. I finished the 400+ pages in a Sunday and two work days, and just went to pick up the sequel. Fantastic, compelling characters. ( )
1 vote cherilove | Aug 20, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 326 (next | show all)
Although she overburdens the traditional police-procedural form with the weight of romance, psychological suspense, social history and mythic legend, she sets a vivid scene for her complex characters, who seem entirely capable of doing the unexpected. Drawn by the grim nature of her plot and the lyrical ferocity of her writing, even smart people who should know better will be able to lose themselves in these dark woods.

» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tana Frenchprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Probably just somebody's nasty black poodle. But I've always wondered...What if it really was Him, and He decided I wasn't worth it?"--Tony Kushner, A Bright Room Called Day
For my father, David French,
and my mother, Elena Hvostoff-Lombardi
First words
Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set in small-town 1950s.
What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie.
We think about mortality so little, these days, except to flail hysterically at it with trendy forms of exercise and high-fiber cereals and nicotine patches.
To my mind the defining characteristic of our era is spin, everything tailored to vanishing point by market research, brands and bands manufactured to precise specifications; we are so used to things transmuting into whatever we would like them to be that it comes as a profound outrage to encounter death, stubbornly unspinnable, only and immutably itself.
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," he told me reproachfully.
Maybe she, like me, would have loved the tiny details and the inconveniences even more dearly than the wonders, because they are the things that prove you belong.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0143113496, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:58 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl near a Dublin suburb. The case resonates with similarities to a murder committed twenty years before that involved two children and the young Ryan.

» see all 9 descriptions

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