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 12-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.
©2007 Tana French; (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.
One of the best-written and best read combinations around. I put off reading Tana French for a long time because I've been suckered too often, but when I was barely 1/4 way through Part One (of 3), I sat down and ordered the next two books she has written. The writing is THAT good. The story is elegant and moving and convincing, and the characters are more-real than most of the people in your own life. Steven Crossley has an amazing, rich and varied voice, an almost-beautiful thing to hear.
Here comes the flaw. This is a book which takes place in Ireland, in small town Ireland, amongst working class Irish people. ALL of them are Irish, but NONE of their accents are. The first-person narrator explains away his English accent by conveniently spending his teen years in English boarding school, but what of everyone else? It might be a sin for an English actor to attempt an Irish accent and do it badly, and I do love Crossley's voice, but surely there are Irish narrators looking for work? I've enjoyed many other Irish novels read by Irish readers -- in fact it is one reason I choose an audiobook over the print version sometimes. So, the English reader loses a star for this otherwise brilliant book.
From Austen to zombies!
In the Woods is a police procedural on the surface. A girl is murdered, and the protagonist and his partner try to find the killer. Underneath, however, it's the story of that protagonist, Detective Rob Ryan, and his attempts to know and overcome his own buried memories.
On the procedural front, there's everything a reader would expect from a modern detective novel: squad-room characters, a grumpy supervisor, the working relationship of Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox. There is also suspense, some red herrings, some authentic leads, and an investigation that gives readers a look into the political and personal worlds of the suburb where the murder takes place.
By itself, this would have been satisfying enough, but In the Woods goes a step further. Rob Ryan, like many other modern detectives, has an ongoing problem. Inspector Morse had alcohol, Barbara Havers has her weight and shyness, but Rob Ryan's in a worse spot: he knows he escaped a horrible situation that presumably killed two of his childhood friends.
But unlike other detectives' problems, this one doesn't just get in Rob's way as he tries to solve the crime: his psychological state is the major part of the story. Parts of In the Woods are therefore quite depressing. Sometimes you want to strangle the guy--why did he DO that? What the heck is wrong with him? And then you remember: after what happened to him, he can't be all there.
In the Woods doesn't offer easy answers to this major story arc. For that, I applaud the author, because trauma that deep can't be solved with a sudden, triggered breakthrough. There's a start toward normality for Rob, but it's only a start.
I wouldn't mind seeing Rob again, but I don't expect him to be more normal next time. If anything, he might be in worse shape. The narrator did a fine job, with the exception of some female voices being a bit forced. Highly recommended if you're looking for a fresh, different detective novel.
Also China Miéville, Peter Hamilton, good space-opera, No Zombies, Apocalypses, Women who sigh and go weak at the knees when seeing a man!
Never have I given, to my friends or in the few reviews I have done here, a 5 star review. I cannot say enough about this book, and I really can't say much without it being a spoiler. I was amazed at the quality of the writing; tight, suspensful, well-rounded characters that you really cared about as well as vivid detailed descriptions of the countryside. I suspect that the "first novel" appellation may turn out to be false, and that this is written under a psuedonom (the writer is Tana French). Whatever, the book is a sitting in the car in the driveway, taking the Mp3 player into the house and listening during dinner book. I was unable to put it down. The author foreswears cliches and even the most jaded mystery reader will enjoy the twists and turns as our Detective protagonist trys to explore the depths of his boyhood memory to solve this modern day case. A fantastic book. If this author is really a newcomer, I await breathlessly the next book from Tana French.
First, the narration was very good. I would listen to him again.
Second, the first half of the book was also very good even with the overwritten parts. I wanted to know very much what happened in both crimes. I also liked the main characters, and I loved the relationship between the main characters.
Third, the second half of the book really changed my pleasure in listening to the book. The anger and animosity coming from our main character, Rob, was so incongruous with how he had been I was thrown. A very large part of the book that I had been enjoying was the friendship between Cassie and Rob, and once that was taken away, I did not enjoy the book as much.
Fourth, so much of the book was unnecessary and irrelevant that I found myself drifting for long moments (especially during the second half of the book).
Fifth, the conclusion was ridiculous and unresolved and frustrating.
It was almost like two people wrote this book.
This book starts with a great idea but it never really develops. There are two mysteries, one in the past, one in the present. The reader is led to believe that they are connected, but after lots and lots of dialogue, memories, etc we find that the first cannot ever be explained (due to "amnesia" on the part of the narrator) and the second could have been solved right away if the right technology had been applied sooner rather than later. The middle third of the book can be dispensed with- it doesn't have anything to do with either plot. Disappointing.
After listening to 75+ Audible books over the past 2 years, I can honestly say "In the Woods" ranks right up there among my top favorites. (It is also the only book I have bothered to write a review for.) The reader is fantastic and the story is gripping. Some Audible reviewers have complained about an unsatisfying ending. I totally disagree. I thought the ending was tight and all major conflicts were resolved at the end of the story. You won't be able to stop listening to this one. I can't recommend it enough!
I intially found this book very interesting and certainly well written. In fact, its strength is in the narrative, rather than in the story. I was very disappointed by the drawn-out, unsatisfying conclusion. It was as if the author got bored and decided to conclude the book too quickly. You see, there are two main story lines, one concerning a recent murder which is concluded fairly reasonably, although not quite believably. I find it hard to believe that the police would not have looked more deeply into the victim's family, especially considering a family member does turn out to be involved in the murder.
The second is a disappearance that happened 20 years ago, with overtones of some sort of strange creature having possibly been the cause. This is never solved, but rather left hanging, making me wonder why then it was even brought up in the first place. Of course, the disappearance is part of the explanation for the twisted character of the main protagonist, but it would have been easy enough to create another reason for his actions.
Therefore, I was very interested at least 3/4s of the way through the book, then ultimately disappointed when it started to become apparent that the second story line was never going to be concluded satisfactorily.
The narrator really brought down the calibre of the piece. His own accent was fine when speaking first person, but he could not make me feel that this story took place in Dublin. Any of his accents of other characters—all Irish—still sounded British, and his voices for women, no matter the age of the character, sounded old, feeble, and rather pathetic. Still the story kept me engaged in spite of that sad mismatch. That speaks to the writing.
I've been an avid reader for years and just discovered the joys of multi-tasking with audio books. It always takes a while to get "into" the flow of a new narrator and this book was no different. I enjoyed Crossley's narration, albeit most characters should have had an Irish accent. The 2 star's reflect the lack of a conclusion to one of two story lines in the book. Why would anyone want to listen/read a mystery book with no conclusion?! I was more interested in the main character's personal story concerning the unexplained loss of his two childhood friends. If the author had revealed an ending to both stories I would have given this book 4 stars, but now I'm sorry I wasted my time listening to it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I couldn't turn my Ipod off, I did extra housework to keep listening to it. In the end, though, don't look for straightforward answers. If you want a detective story that's nicely tied up in the end, this one may not satisfy. Some big loose ends are left dangling, let's hope the author has future plans to tie them up. If you want entertainment and an intriguing listen that will keep you guessing and make you think, though, this is definitely worth the listen.
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