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

by Tana French

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9,271560710 (3.78)708
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.
Member:lauralkeet
Title:In the Woods
Authors:Tana French
Info:Penguin (Non-Classics) (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 464 pages
Collections:Removed from Library, Great Britain & Ireland
Rating:***
Tags:read in 2013, fiction, swapped, irish authors, woman authors, mystery

Work Information

In the Woods by Tana French (2007)

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    Nickelini: Murder mysteries set in forests of Ireland, although otherwise not very similar.
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    Ling.Lass: Unreliable narrators, psychopaths, unsympathetic characters who miss their chance at redemption
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» See also 708 mentions

English (541)  Spanish (8)  German (4)  Dutch (3)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (558)
Showing 1-5 of 541 (next | show all)
Loved this. Gripping story - could hardly put it down. Disturbing outcome, though, in more ways than one. ( )
  PlatinumWarlock | Nov 20, 2022 |
I'll give it 3 stars. It's a pretty unusual story, I thought, but kind of drawn out and dragged a bit at times. The ending wasn't very satisfying to me, and it also seemed to go on and on as the main character seemed to be getting lost in a downward spiral. Not that all books need to have a nice, happy ending but this one was a bit too depressing. Before I read more of the series, I'll probably want to read more reviews to see if it looks better first. ( )
1 vote MartyFried | Oct 9, 2022 |
Back in 1984, twelve-year-old Adam Ryan was found in the woods, scared, with blood-soaked shoes and no memory of how he got there. The two friends he was playing with are missing. Their bodies have never been found and no one knows what happened to them.

Now Adam goes by Rob Ryan and after going away to an English boarding school after the incident in his childhood, he’s a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad. No one he works with knows that he’s the boy from the woods. Now the body of a 12-year-old girl who was raped and murdered is found in the same woods. Rob and his partner Cassie have been assigned to the case. Will Rob’s childhood trauma in the woods affect his handling of the girl’s case? Is her case related to what happened to him and his friends?

I’m not a huge crime reader but I know Tana French is really popular so I thought I’d give one of her books a whirl. In the Woods got off to an incredibly slow start. I didn’t get to that “can’t put it down” phase that I expect to have when reading a mystery or thriller until over 200 pages in. I almost gave up several times and did actually set it aside to read another book and then came back to it. The last 200 pages or so flew by – I read them in just a couple of days! It took me weeks to read the first part though.

I enjoyed Rob and Cassie as a team, especially their rapport when interrogating suspects. Their personal relationship made me cringe a bit, but I think it was supposed to. Overall, the characters were really well-developed. I thought the plot was great – there were twists and surprises, but it was just such a slow build. It’s hard to say much more without spoiling something. If this book were just 150 pages shorter, I would have rated it higher.

Oh, the other thing that you should know is that not all the loose ends are resolved at the end of the book, and from a cursory internet search, it doesn’t look like they are resolved in subsequent books in the series either. This actually didn’t bother me even though I am usually one to like everything tied up in a nice little bow at the end of a book. ( )
  mcelhra | Sep 15, 2022 |
It is impossible to even attempt to record the number of crime/mystery/thriller novels out there, and nearly all of them follow a similar pattern - something horrible happens, maybe an assault, maybe a rape, maybe a murder, and relatives/(police) detectives/whoever have to solve the mystery. This procedure has been applied thousands of times, and although exceptions to the usual pattern can, of course, always be found within the genre, they are rarely to be discovered.

But then there are books like "In the Woods". Tana French's debut novel starts off with a murder investigation, and it is actually one of those mentioned mystery novels. Someone dies, and two police detectives - Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox - have to solve the case. But it is so much more than that. Over the course of 700 pages *, "In the Woods" deals with human abysses, tortured minds and souls, deep memories and all too human fears. Tana French immediately captured me with her beautiful writing style and allowed me to enter a world full of treachery, hate ... and love. But it wasn't sad all the time. The author managed to include loosening and exhilarating scenes now and then, and then there was also the great relation between Rob and Cassie, two friends full of trust and closeness to each other, and you know immediately that it is only friendship which exists between the two of them. But what a fascinating friendship it is.

Although I can understand why people complain about the ending, this book was so intense, so sad, so funny, so mysterious and so thrilling, with some of the most realistic and interesting characters I've ever encountered in the thriller genre, that I will excuse her choices - just like in real life, not everything can ever truly be elucidated. The tension was not created out of action scenes, horrendous incidents or thrilling passages (which is why it might have dragged on for some parts of the story). No, the tension was created by psychological torture, by letting you feel empathy for Rob and just want to embrace him. Rob wasn't the perfect likeable character; he made more than one, more than ten, more than hundred mistakes, but doesn't everybody make mistakes? This much is certain: Tana French succeeded with making Rob one of my all-time favorite characters, but she succeeded even more with making me want to read more about the Dublin Murder Squad.


* I've read the German translation in the Hardcover format, which was 330 pages longer than the number of pages Goodreads mentions for the English original. The book definitely did not feel as long as 700 pages, but it was still such a heavy edition that you could probably commit murder with it. ( )
  Councillor3004 | Sep 1, 2022 |
So disappointing!
  DebCushman | Aug 25, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 541 (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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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