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In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Tana French

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,748538690 (3.78)685
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.
Title:In the Woods
Authors:Tana French
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Removed from Library, British
Tags:read in 2013, fiction, swapped, irish authors, woman authors, mystery

Work details

In the Woods by Tana French (2007)

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» See also 685 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 523 (next | show all)
3.75 stars I guess. I definitely liked this more than [b:In a Dark, Dark Wood|27834600|In a Dark, Dark Wood|Ruth Ware|https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1523543089l/27834600._SY75_.jpg|42905101] which I compare both because of the title and the genre.

The back of this book says that it's a thriller which I kind of disagree with. There were intense moments, but essentially this was just a police procedural and the plot rarely deviates from the investigation. The most thriller-like plot thread was the thing you find out right away where our main character Adam Ryan and his two friends went missing in the woods as children and he was the only one to make it back out. We don't even get this plot really wrapped up, at least not in this book. In fact, the book doesn't really dive into this as much as I expected. It really is only discussed in connection to the current case I knew there was a police element based on the name of the series but I didn't realize it completely dominated the plot which isn't great because I don't like procedural that much.

I think the strength of this novel is the characters and the character relationship. I think the dynamic between Ryan and Cassie Maddox was very strong, especially at the beginning of the novel. I think French does a great job writing Ryan as a character that professes to be uncomfortable with the male environment of the police station but is still affected by that dynamic and falls into some stereotypes because of that. I would have liked to learn more about Cassie but this book is from Ryan's perspective and believe the next book is about Cassie so I assume we will learn more later. I did really dislike the plot point of Cassie and Ryan being really close friends until they end up kissing and then he freaks out and really hurt her. I was impressed with the book having them be just really close friends so when this happened I was really disappointed and it felt needlessly cliche.

The mystery itself was fine but it just dealt with a topic that I really don't care for in mysteries. I really don't like stories about psychopaths. I just find them so frustrating so I don't like that this plot went in that direction. I also don't like the fact that the reason Rosalind got away with things was because no one was smart enough to double check info. It's hard to discuss any parts of this without giving things away but I will say that the issues I had with the mystery had to do with things I personally don't like so other people might not have a problem with it. I also wish I knew that this was a police procedural before going in.

I think I will continue with this series because I have heard good things about The Likeness and it's more about Cassie who I liked way more than Ryan and I think it's not as much as a procedural. I think people that like this type of mystery would like this! ( )
  AKBouterse | Oct 14, 2021 |
When a 12-year-old girl is found murdered on an excavation site in a Dublin suburb, Detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox are assigned to the case. However, similarities to an old cold case that Ryan has some ties to as a child adds an extra dimension to this murder, as well as raising more questions.

I've not read Tana French before, but it looks like I'm about to be sucked wholeheartedly into her Dublin Murder Squad series. I enjoyed this a lot, both the plot and character development. I loved the dynamics between Rob and Cassie -- a bantering, teasing brother and sister-type relationship, but with some underlying sexual tension. The plot was well-constructed and French did a good job pulling the reader into both the past and present investigations. I loved it all...until the end. I realize books shouldn't all have tidy, wrapped-up endings, but this one really left me wanting more, as well as giving me a feeling of disappointment in how one particular person's character disintegrated in my mind. But again, that's also a sign of a good story and good writing -- when the author can pull those emotions to the surface. Based on my experience with this book, I'd say Tana French is one of the better contemporary mystery/crime writers out there. And I'm off to read book #2! ( )
  indygo88 | Oct 13, 2021 |
In the Woods is a literary mystery/ thriller of the highest order. French's prose is so good, so mesmerizing, I was completely entranced. Might be overly verbose for some tastes, but I loved it. The whodonit is very well done with a jaw dropping revelation & thrilling climax. A lot of people have squawked about the ending, but I thought it was perfect. If you like literary mysteries, I can't recommend this book enough. ( )
  usuallee | Oct 7, 2021 |
I was going to give this 5* for the lyrical writing plotting world building and characters, even though the narrator is a bit of a dick and just deserves everything he gets if not worse, but combined with the unexplained intrusion of paranormal touches drop it to 4.5 The cliche about troubled relationships and policemen would be less annoying if he hadn't built a wonderful and charming relationship that he through away for no reasons at all - which is the exceptionally annoying thing, anyone can be mistaken, make bad choices etc, but he literally just couldn't be bothered.

The lyrical prose the author employs to describe both the narrator's childhood exploring the local woods and his current relationship with his detective partner in the murder squad is wonderful, the characters just glow with joy, such moments are to be treasured because they're so rare in anyone's life, and the author catches this in exquisite detail. Which only makes the transitions back to the child murder case they're investigating more jarring - a beloved daughter was found with her head bashed in, on top of an archaeological monument. There is a team excavating relics nearby and political possibilities with a motorway scheduled to pass through the site too. These generate a lot of potential leads for the team to explore before a moment of revelation provides the clue for the investigation. There's a lot of flashbacks to Rob's idyllic childhood past, and a lot of banter within the team, but as the stress of an unsolved case rises, so does Rob's inability to get a grip - and given he's been a detective for many year sat this point having investigated far worse cases, it's all a bit inexplicable.

I'm not sure if I will read the rest of the series, the writing is wonderful and the plotting very clever, but Rob is so rubbish I'm not sure I can read more about him. ( )
1 vote reading_fox | Sep 28, 2021 |
It has a good introduction, creative imagery. The text is clever, smart. It’s all-around a five star book.

It’s going to sound weird, but what made me fall in love with the book was the sentences. They’re fantastic. Each one is well-constructed, but they always communicate new ideas. Things I hadn’t thought of before. There’re no attempts at trying to be The Dutch House or Where the Crawdads Sing.

My usual problem with “whydunits” is that the detectives don’t change. It would be wrong to say they are not character-based, but their fatal flaw is also why they’re such a good detective. Good whydunits have a dark turn, where the hero has to break their integrity/personal code/innocence to solve the case. The desire for justice is so strong, the detective has to decide how much they pay of themselves. And sometimes the detective can overpay and ruin the whole thing.

Anyway, my point is mysteries don’t have typical story protagonists. They are the same person from the beginning of the story to the end. This is why there are so many mystery series–the story changes but the main character doesn’t. He/she doesn’t get fixed, doesn’t learn anything. He/she already has all the tools to solve the problem (which is really someone else’s problem).

They are single solid archetypes–Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade, Jessica Fletcher, Shawn Spencer, even the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. Encyclopedia Brown is same person in book 1 as he is in book 237. Columbo is still a trenchcoated grumpy old man. Sherlock Holmes is still an asshole.

This is not that story. This is a story about a character. A character who wants something, who has a problem, and a need to learn a life lesson. In other words, not your typical mystery. Read it. ( )
  theWallflower | Sep 20, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 523 (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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"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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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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.

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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 and stunning in its complexity, In the Woods is utterly convincing and surprising to the end.
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