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In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Tana French

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4,613None1,035 (3.76)351
Title:In the Woods
Authors:Tana French
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:mystery, suspense/thriller, author-Ireland, unread

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In the Woods by Tana French (2007)

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Showing 1-5 of 311 (next | show all)
AUTHOR: French, Tana
TITLE: In The Woods
Date Read: 02/23/14
RATING: 4.5/B+
GENRE/PUB DATE/PUBLISHER/# OF PGS: Crime Fiction/2007/Penguin/429 pgs

TIME/PLACE: 2007/Ireland
CHARACTERS: Detectives Rob Ryan & Cassie Maddox

FIRST LINES: What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship w/ truth is fundamental but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass.

COMMENTS: On my TBR for sometime -- a choice for February read w/ Carpe Librum finally got it in my hands. In the mid-1980's in the woods 3 children go out to play just like any other day only this time 2 of them never come back & are never found. 25 years later, a young girl is found in the same area murdered. Is there a relationship to these unsolved murders? Rob Ryan was the one who left the woods 25 yrs ago when his 2 friends disappeared -- instead of bowing out on this case, he does not disclose his connection and hopes that he can not only solve the present murder but uncover what happened when he was a child. He has no clear memories of that day. ( )
  pammykn | Feb 26, 2014 |
Warning: this review contains spoilers


Detectives Robert Ryan and Cassie Maddox of the Dublin Murder Squad have been called to the town of Knocknaree to investigate the death of a 12-year-old girl, who was found near an archaeological site being excavated. It's a shocking case, but for Ryan there's a personal aspect: he lived in Knocknaree as a boy, and when he was about the girl's age, his two best friends went into the woods and never came back. He himself was found clinging to a tree for dear life, blood soaked through his shoes, unable to speak or remember what happened to him or the others. Nobody on the squad knows he was that boy -- he went by his middle name after that and picked up an English accent at boarding school -- so he decides to keep himself on the case. But will he be able to remain objective, or will the past catch up with him in an unpredictable way?

I immediately clicked with Ryan's voice from the start. He's candid about his shortcomings, quick with a clever description, and his rapport with Maddox is a delight. It was refreshing to read about a man and woman who could get along well platonically; there seem to be too few examples of such a relationship. (It was therefore somewhat disappointing when they did hook up for one night, thus fulfilling the stereotype that platonic friendships between the sexes can't exist.)

This is a big book, almost 600 pages in my edition, but it was a very steady, smooth read. The last third was very well done indeed -- once they started getting closer to the solution, my heart just kept sinking lower and lower and the horror kept increasing as I realized the depths to which the murderer had sank. In the last couple of chapters the tension was so high that I almost couldn't bear to read on -- I thought Maddox would be killed and had to go check the back cover of my copy of The Likeness, the second book in the series, to make sure she was OK before finishing In the Woods.

I also liked that this was set in Dublin. There is plenty of local colour: speech patterns, mentions of accents and neighbourhoods, and the police headquarters aka Dublin Castle. It's not really a travelogue, though; this is more about the characters, and fortunately they are very interesting indeed. I especially liked Ryan for his voice, Maddox for her personality, and O'Neill for his quiet dedication.

I would definitely recommend this if you're into meaty mystery novels and/or want to read about modern Ireland. Now I want to go visit for myself. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Feb 22, 2014 |
In the Woods is a kind of book that in some ways I simply don't like very much: it's a psychological thriller as much as a police procedural, and it focuses on bad things happening to young children, which is just something I find difficult to deal with as entertainment. But of its kind, it is very, very good.
  rmaitzen | Feb 7, 2014 |
As a child, Rob Ryan may have witnessed the murder of his friends. He returned home from the nearby woods, bloodied, remembering nothing. His friends never returned. Rob and his family soon moved away to escape the stain of the event, forever marked upon them via small town gossip. Now an adult, Rob still has no memory of what happened that day. He works as a police detective, and at the outset of this book, is assigned to investigate the murder of a child... one that may or may not be tied to the traumatic events of his childhood.
His detective partner and close companion Cassie is his only true confidant, and their relationship is one of the most interesting and involving parts of this book. Her character deserves more, and gets more, in French's next book The Likeness: A Novel.
I could not put the book down! This made for a lack of sleep, but an excellent reading experience. Seldom do I react out loud while reading a book -- but I did with this one. ("Oh god no!" ...followed by an embarrassed look around to see if anyone heard me). Yes, this book made me into the literary equivalent of that annoying guy who yells at the screen in the movie theater.
If you read other reviews, you will see people complaining that the book was a big letdown because it promised resolutions that it did not deliver. This is technically true, but I don't want to get too far into that because I consider it a spoiler. Let's just say that I was entirely satisfied at the end of the book, and then a day later, I shook my head, realizing that I didn't ever find out the things I expected to find out at the outset. French changes things up on us as we read along. And that was OK with me.
Take a chance on this one. And don't be embarrassed if you shout at the book once or twice. It's OK. I understand. ( )
  ksimon | Feb 6, 2014 |
In The Woods -- Tana French is really Stephen King doing Law & Order in Ireland. And that's a compliment. Detectives with history, partners In the thicket, down into the roots, following the many threads of a crime -- family, sexual predators, real estate developers -- that could lead to the perpetrator and more. So this story is part detectives and how they do things, part the minds of detectives and how they can go unhinged, and part classic murder story as old as human history itself. A little girl murdered near an archeological dig soon to disappear to a motorway -- that's the outline of the story, and the rest is rich detail that leaves you caring about these fictional people. Mundane, real, unhappy ending, in a stream of human frailty, venality, and dumbness that shares the stage with human hope, passion, caring, courage, and heroic struggle. Well done. ( )
  grheault | Jan 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 311 (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
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Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set in small-town 1950s.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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.

(summary from another edition)

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