Review: In the Woods

In the WoodsTana French, In the Woods

Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, are two up-and-coming detectives on the Dublin Murder Squad. But Ryan is hiding a secret about his past: his real name is Adam Ryan, and when he was 12 years old, his two best friends vanished in the woods of Knocknaree without a trace. Ryan was even with them at the time, but he has no memory of what happened to them — or why they disappeared while he was found. Ryan has apparently done a good job of recovering from this trauma and moving on with his life, but he is deeply shaken when he and Cassie are assigned to another case in Knocknaree, where a young girl has been murdered. As Ryan returns to his hometown and is confronted with memories he didn’t even know he had, he wonders whether the girl’s murder is connected to his own past. Ultimately, Ryan knows that this case will have deep personal importance for him — but will it make his career or destroy it?

I’m having a hard time collecting my thoughts on this book. At first I thought I wasn’t going to like it at all — in fact, I almost gave up after the flowery prologue — but eventually I got completely sucked in. The strongest aspect of the book, for me, was the relationship between Ryan and Cassie. Ryan isn’t a particularly likable character, but the bond between him and Cassie is so strong that you can’t help feeling he must be a pretty good guy after all. The way this relationship evolves and changes throughout the book kept me riveted. The novel’s narrative structure also creates a lot of suspense: Ryan is the narrator, and he says right from the start that he tells lies. So I was constantly wondering whether he was lying about certain things, and I became really invested in both mysteries as a result. That said, the book’s ending drove me a little crazy: some things made me sad, others frustrated me, and others I actually liked a lot. So I’m still undecided about this book; but I am glad I read it, and I will certainly be reading The Likeness at some point as well!

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8 thoughts on “Review: In the Woods

    • Christina says:

      It’s not that the prologue is a slow start…I just got really turned off by the (in my opinion) overly flowery language. Luckily, the prologue is really short, and I liked Ryan’s narration a lot better. I’ll be interested to see what you think of the book!

  1. raidergirl3 says:

    I have found each book French writes gets better and better. The plot of The Likeness is particularly good. She has a new book coming out this fall! woo hoo!

    • Christina says:

      Ooh, good to know! Just…do they all end in really ambiguous and/or depressing ways? Because I care about these people and want them to be happy, dammit!

  2. fakesteph says:

    I’ve had this on my shelf for forever! I should make a point to read it sooner rather than later. 🙂 Glad you think you liked it. Hopefully it will make me think, too!

  3. Frances says:

    I love Tana French’s writing–she gets you in *deep* when it comes to her characters. Ditto to another commenter who said The Likeness is a good follow-up; in fact I think it’s even better, and my favorite of her works so far.

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