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In the Woods by Tana French
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In the Woods (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Tana French

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6,164426662 (3.77)532
Member:dallenbaugh
Title:In the Woods
Authors:Tana French
Info:Penguin Books (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Prize Winners, 2012 Books Read
Rating:***
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Work details

In the Woods by Tana French (2007)

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» See also 532 mentions

English (411)  Spanish (5)  German (4)  Dutch (3)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All (425)
Showing 1-5 of 411 (next | show all)
This novel was a complete drag and incredibly long-winded. The narrator, Detective Rob Ryan, is a narcissistic putz with an aversion to commitment and long-standing emotional deficits he attributes to a childhood trauma. His main redeeming quality is his friendship with his partner, Detective Cassie Maddox, whom he manages to alienate entirely on account of his aforementioned issues before the completion of the novel. While the story is driven by the investigation of young Katy Devlin's disturbing murder, much of In The Woods is Ryan's inability to cope with the possible connection between this crime and the unsolved disappearance and suspected murder of his childhood friends which occurred over 20 years prior in the same wooded area. A crime of which he was the sole witness but has no recollection of.

Psychopaths and dark secrets abound as Ryan gradually descends into his own personal hell and we're forced to slog through his self-destruction as he ruins his career and only functional relationship. French's writing style and a desire for closure kept me persisting until the end, but with a handful of stunning, psychologically complex scenes interspersed with long sections of utter misery and one of the most dismal endings I've ever encountered, In The Woods ultimately felt like some sort of punishment. ( )
  GennaC | May 9, 2017 |
Thanks to a friend's urging, I've just discovered a new series and author -- Tana French. I must have been under a rock, because In The Woods (her first in the series) was published in 2007. I was aware of this book, having seen it over the years. But, look at that cover -- doesn't it look like a horror filled, psychological thriller? Shame on me for judging a book by its cover.

In the Woods immediately pulls you in, the terrifically written prologue sets the stage and puts the reader into a carefree summer day in a 1984 suburb of Dublin with three children playing in the woods.

When the children don't return home, only one child, Adam Robert Ryan, is found catatonic, remembering nothing but his shoes are soaked with blood. Now twenty years later, Ryan, going only by Adam Ryan, is a detective for the Dublin Murder Squad. No one knows of his connection with the 1984 incident. A young girl is found murdered in the very same woods and Ryan finds himself in his old hometown which triggers memories of what happened on that tragic day.

In the Woods is narrated by Detective Ryan and Ms. French has given him a complex voice - taunted by the past, torn up with survivors guilt and the hard, cool viewpoint of a detective.

"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. This is my job, and you don't go into it -- or, if you do, you don't last -- without some natural affinity for its priorities and demands. What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this -- two things: I crave truth. And I lie."

Detective Ryan and his partner from the Dublin murder squad, Cassie Maadox, begin their gentle but relentless investigation into the death of young Katy Devlin. Their relationship is intricately developed and compassionate.

" How can I ever make you understand Cassie and me? I would have to take you there, walk you down every path our secret shared geography. The truism says it's against all the odds for a straight man and woman to be real friends, platonic friends; we rolled thirteen, threw down five aces and ran away giggling. She was the summertime cousin out of storybooks, the one you taught to swim at some midge-humming lake and pestered with tadpoles down her swimsuit, with whom you practiced first kisses on a heather hillside and laughed about it years later..."

Ms. French deftly weaves back and forth between the two plots and it's fascinating to see if two murders relate or are a mere coincidence. The interrogation scenes are some of the best parts of this debut;

"It becomes second nature, interrogation; it seeps into your blood until, no matter how stunned or exhausted or excited your are, this remains unchanged: the polite professional tone, the clean, relentless march as each answer unfolds into question after new question."

There is rich atmosphere, from the Irish weather;

"It was your basic Irish summer day, irritatingly coy, all sun and skidding clouds and jackknifing breeze, ready at any second to make an effortless leap into bucketing rain or blazing sun or both."

To the murdered girl's autopsy;

" I thought of the old superstition that the soul lingers near the body for a few days, bewildered and unsure."

In the Woods is atmospheric and engrossing, with richly drawn characters and some lovely detailed writing. Hard to fathom that this is Ms. French's first novel.

I read most of the day - couldn't put it down. The ending does not tie up all the loose ends but I'm hoping the next in this intelligent series will start to resolve some of the questions.
See all my reviews at http://www.bookbarmy.com
( )
  BookBarmy | Apr 13, 2017 |
Nothing special here, just a whodunnit novel. I found some intriguing elements to the story and the characters, but they never came together coherently. There were some elements that seemed frustratingly misdone in the investigation. The story rambles a lot. I'm not sure if the author was trying to insert red herrings or just needed a better editor. ( )
  dougcornelius | Mar 10, 2017 |
I was not very impressed with this book. The plot was week and the mystery left me feeling unsatisfied, but perhaps the biggest disappointment was the overall voice of the book. The main character didn't come off believable and the overall tone of the book felt more like a high school story rather than an adult murder mystery. I would have expected something more gritty. ( )
  ZephyrusW | Mar 5, 2017 |
This was a hard read, but very good. I am terribly pissed with the author for not clearing up a few things, though. ( )
  annabw | Feb 21, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 411 (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 editionscalculated
Wang, JenniferCover artistmain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Resnick, NancyDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"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
Dedication
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.
Quotations
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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(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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:21 -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)

» see all 9 descriptions

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