'In The Woods' is the first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French, but it is the third book in that series I have read by her. French makes this series readable whether you start at book 1 or book 4, and I love the fact you do not have to read them in order. That being said, this is clearly the first of the series. This book centers around Rob Ryan, Murder Squad detective. It also introduces us to Cassie Maddox, his partner, the central figure in Book 2 'The Likeness." Ryan is a flawed character that strays from approved policy, as are all French's characters. He allows himself to be assigned to a case that he is tightly connected with. While against procedure, and full understanding that it could destroy the investigation and his career, he jumps in and does not disclose his personal ties. He believes himself to be the perfect man for the job. French creates an intriguing mystery. I didn't guess the ending despite the fact that all the clues are there.
Rob Ryan was the victim as a child in the disappearance of two children. They were his two best friends. He is the only one who returns home to his parents, his shoes soaked in blood. His parents hastily move, change his name, and put him in boarding school. They are doing all they can to protect him. He can not remember the incident, even as an adult, but now that a child is found murdered in his home town he gets himself assigned to the case. It has been many years, but as he investigates the murder of a young girl he can't help but investigate any similarities to that of his childhood friends disappearance. Is this girl one of them? Is it related? French digs relentlessly into a small town that sits in the ruins of an archaeological site, an archaeological site that is about to be shut down for the sake of a new road and the never-ending drive for "progress." As Ryan and Cassie investigate the case, Ryan is having flashbacks. These flashbacks take him down an interesting rabbit hole that was his life before his best friends disappeared. Ryan also starts to unravel. He has difficulty distinguishing what is real and fact. His behavior and memories jeopardize the entire investigation.
A friend of mine told me that the reason she liked French so much is she doesn't answer all your questions and in the hands of a less capable writer this could be a plot hole. In French's hands, however, it is an excellent device that leaves you wanting more. How right she is, and French certainly does this in 'In the Woods.' French leaves you with key questions unanswered, but if you look at any true crime there are many questions unanswered that leave you on the edge of your seat. French plays to reality with this. The book is a psychological thriller not just murder mystery. The motive behind the crimes are intriguing. It also delves into how your mind can be manipulated and tricks can be played on it.
I mentioned that it is clear this is the first of the Dublin Murder Squad series. It is not because it gives you key information to the rest of the books but rather shows how French develops her series formula. I describe it as a formula because the Dublin Murder Squad books have a sole carry over character in the next installment of the series. This carry over is the main character of the next book. There is some light reflection of the previous book, but that is it. Each book is attached to the Dublin Murder Squad, and it is about a singular flawed character at a point when they are at a significant low point in their lives that causes them to question and challenge the rules. They are never a key character again. I find it brilliant, and French is free from having to rehash characters repeatedly. She has fresh characters each time.
Steven Crossly did a good job. I was a bit surprised that he had an English accent since I was prepared for it to be an Irish accent since the story is set in Ireland. That being said its because our main character has an English accent because he went to boarding school in London. He did a fine job and did a surprisingly good job with female voices.
I enjoyed 'In The Woods," but didn't find it as well written as her other books. It's not one I would reread but loved the concept, especially how French wrapped up the book. I think if you want to try out French, because you have not read her yet, I recommend being a little nontraditional and start with a different book than 'In The Woods.' That way you can enjoy this one later, but you get French's writing at a higher level to start off with.
I don't know what impressed me more, the narrator or the story!. Clever plot turns and interesting characters. I am going to get the next book right now!
Great story, great characters and I didn't figure out the mystery until the very end! And the narration was fantastic! I listen to over 100 audio books a year, and this is a great one!
A lot of twisting in the plot with the makings of a good intriguing detective novel that then fell completely flat. There are two crimes in the same place & the various interwoven angles are explored sometimes to great excess and then seemingly for naught.
I was most frustrated by the author's decision on the two plot resolutions. For one, she had the main character reveal something at one point that was totally uncharacteristic of him and would never have happened consistent with her description without her giving us a reason, and she didn't. It was such an obvious giveaway, and I am usually easily sucked into intricate plots that I don't see the twist coming. But this one was not well hidden.
The second plot resolution was a deal killer for me. She said she chose this ending because it was truest to her story; to me it felt like she thought she'd create more interest for herself and her future works because she left people hanging. I was all set to read another of her books and chose to read this one first because I like to start at the beginning...Now I don't think I'll bother with the second book, even though it's about Cassie, the character, I really liked.
Ok, I will nitpick here... Detective Ryan is an Irishman with an English accent as explained in the book, so Crossley was a good choice. He was easy to listen to and made the story exciting. My problem is all the other - Irish - characters spoke with the same British accent, even the ones in the book described as having a thick Irish accent. . I'd like for them to have had a more authentic Irish accent.... Or an Irish accent at all.
I'd like to address the negative reviews that center on the ending. This story does not have an all nicely wrapped up with a bow on it happy ending. If you can't get enjoyment out of a story without a story tale ending then this isn't the book for you. If you love a compelling story that's character driven and beautifully written and mind bending and heart breaking, then I'll 100% recommend it!
I live in Dundee, Oregon, wine country and the most beautiful place on earth...I love detective stories and just discovered John Sandford and his Prey series. Love him! I also love Rosamond Pilcher, anything read by Joe Mantagna or Bobby Cavale. Love Audiobooks more than almost anything!
It was about 1 part too long. There was alot of unimportant details that detracted from the story. Also, it is Irish and the reader was Engish. Really took away from the story as well. I like Tana French and her style, but this story left me wanting, not in a good way
The initial story of three children and the crime involved was great and unfinished in the end and that was very disappointing.
He has a great voice, but this story need the Irish accent to make it real for me.
It was about 1 part too long.
I was not happy with this story and wish it had a better ending and the correct reader.
Another anti-hero from Tana French - this one quite sympathetic for the first half, and after a quite predictable plot twist, an idiot (but realistically in character.) I didn't connect with the protagonist quite as well as with the protagonist in Faithful Place, but he was interesting. French's villain is modern with a modern motivation; the novel does not tidily clean up all the loose plot ends, which is also modern.
The female detective, Cassie, is sharply drawn, strong and fantastic.French does a great job with female characters.
Another great story by Tana French... and Steven Crossley is one of the best narrators I have ever listened to. If this was not an audio book it would definitely be considered a "page turner". At one time I also had the good fortune to download and listen to another of Ms. French's books called "Faithful Place" but notice it is no longer available. Two other of her books, while listed on Audible as being in the series are also not available and I sincerely hope at some point in the near future they will be made available for purchase. She is a superb writer!
Great Twists & Turns
I loved all the different twists and leads that took us in so many directions, but always not very far from the center.
I didn't have a favourite....they were all unusual and interesting
Tana French is a new author for me, but I will read all her books.....she is a very talented story teller.
I read this book several years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are spots of humour, introspection, mystery... the whole thing was just incredible!
Steven Crossley was a great narrator choice for this book, though the dialogue is probably the biggest drawback to his performance. Another reviewer stated the lack of an Irish accent for many of the other characters takes away from the experience, and he occasionally lapses into low growly monosyllabic passages. Beyond those minor quibbles, his depiction of this book is dark and brooding and tough and tragic.
I wish more of Ms. French's books were available on Audible; this book is a promising beginning to a gripping series.