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In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Tana French

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,615391762 (3.77)472
Title:In the Woods
Authors:Tana French
Info:Penguin Books (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

In the Woods by Tana French (2007)

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Showing 1-5 of 379 (next | show all)
In the Woods was chosen as my Book Club's book for September. I'd never read anything by Tana French before, and quite honestly had gotten away from thriller/mystery reading in favor of paranormal and dystopian lately. That being said, I did thoroughly enjoy this book. There were times when I could not put it down, and other times when it got so intense that I HAD to put it down and walk away for a moment. (Though I never had to put it in the freezer!) I have to admit to being more surprised than usual at what had happened and who the "bad guys" were. I suspected one, but the reasoning escaped me. The reason for 4 stars instead of 5 was simply the lack of information about the "cold case" we learn about in the beginning. I truly expected to have some sort of closure on that by the end and was disappointed to not get any. In any case, I enjoyed the book and do intend to check out the rest of the series. ( )
  MynTop | Apr 8, 2016 |
Within four pages of starting this book, I knew I was going to love it. It's almost a five star for me ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
Within four pages of starting this book, I knew I was going to love it. It's almost a five star for me ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
In a creepy mystery debut tinged with the supernatural, Tana French introduces us to members of the Dublin Murder Squad, who are confronted early in the novel with a gristly crime. A young girl is found murdered on an archaeological dig site in Knocknaree, neatly arranged on an old sacrifice altar. The story is narrated by Rob Ryan, one of the main detectives on the case, who also has a secret connection to the mystery that he is keeping from the others. When he was a young boy, Ryan and his two best friends ran off to play in the woods surrounding his house, the same woods that years later becomes a dig site where the body of a murdered girl is found. Adam Ryan went into the forest with his friends, and the three of them disappeared. After a search party had hunted for hours for the missing kids, Ryan was finally found, his shoes filled with blood and long tears in the back of his shirt. His best friends, Jamie and Peter, were never found.

In the aftermath of the horrific experience, Adam and his family moved to a different house in a different city, and he went to a new school. When he grew up, Adam started going by his middle name of Rob, and he decided to become a detective. Not to solve the crime of his childhood, at least not consciously; he had relegated that whole time in Knocknaree to the recesses of his mind, trying to bury memories of Jamie, Peter, and the woods. And he had a helpful head start on erasing his past. When the searchers found Adam in the woods, he had no memory of anything that occurred after they had gone into the woods that day. His mind was wiped clean. No, he doesn't become a detective to unearth his past, but because he thought the Murder squad was the elite of the police force, and he wanted to be one of them. At least, so he tells us. The story is narrated by Rob Ryan in the first person, and he admits at the beginning that he is unreliable. As he describes it, detectives are relentless in the pursuit of truth, and they will engage in every kind of deception to find it.

Rob and his partner, Cassie, are assigned the case because his superiors are unaware of Rob's dark connections to Knocknaree. The only one who knows about his traumatic childhood is Cassie, and after Rob entreats her to keep it quiet, she agrees. Rob and Cassie are very close, their partnership the most solid one in the squad. Using the fine skills they have honed over the years, and the advantage of their perfectly synced relationship, they start to unearth the secrets surrounding the murder of twelve-year-old Katy Devlin, and Rob tries to peel back the dark cover hiding his own mystery, wondering if the two cases are somehow connected.

As the investigation progresses, obstacles become more pronounced. Rob and Cassie run into one dead end after another, and every lead they have fizzles into nothing. Even after they have Sam join their team to pursue the political angle, it seems like the case is heading to haunting unsolved status. Furthermore, it is becoming apparent that Katy's death has nothing to do with the older mystery of Jamie and Peter's disappearance. When the big break finally does come, it is attached to too high a price, and leaves no one satisfied.

This mystery is a truly chilling and suspenseful story. It starts darkly, with specks of sunlight filtering through, and only gets more midnight as you read. Rob's history is sad and disturbing. All of this dark progression makes for a compelling read that is hard to put down. I personally loved the way the author wove in clues in conversations and haunting memories that suggest his friends' disappearances has a supernatural explanation. Many reviewers were disappointed in the fact that the old mystery had no official resolution. By the conclusion of the novel, I felt that the author had left plenty of clues to implicate a beyond-human cause for his missing friends, and I was happy to leave it there, because a situation like that would not be solved by a human police force, and because it left the whole backstory much eerier and more disturbing. To me, accepting that he and his friends had an encounter with the unexplainable is what links the two halves of the story together, and makes many events that occur in present time much more comprehensible. Also, the suggested interlacing of the old mystery with the new puts a lot narrative pressure on Rob Ryan, and changes his character in fascinating and sometimes horrible ways. For the first two-thirds of the book I was quite sympathetic to him, rooting for him to solve his childhood mystery and figure out his relationships. Then, in the last third of the novel, he truly takes a turn in character that almost completely alienated me, and pushed me to focus my compassion solely on Cassie. By the end, when the understanding of his jerkiness and remorse (finally!) set in, he redeems himself a little. I did feel bad for Rob at the end, and the novel concludes on a bittersweet note, with some answers and some questions, the main plot points tied up but many uncomfortable loose ends dangling. I like it this way. It's a powerful story, and novels like that don't wrap everything up into a tidy box. The story and characters evolve in ways that made sense with the developing plot, and we have enough information to understand the mystery, even if we don't like everything we learn. The characters, especially the central ones, are complex and compelling, and I would happily read more about them. This was a well-written and original mystery, which offers the suggestion of more fun reading from this author in the her next books. ( )
  nmhale | Mar 25, 2016 |
I was only disappointed with the ending of this. I assumed I would learn for sure what had happened in thenwoods, not just hear hypothesis. Writing well worth reading more from author. ( )
  anglophile65 | Mar 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 379 (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
Wang, JenniferCover artistmain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Resnick, NancyDesignersecondary 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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(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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