When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods one day with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood. He had no memory of what had happened. Twenty years on, Rob Ryan - the child who came back - is a detective in the Dublin police force. He's changed his name. No one knows about his past. Then a little girl's body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. Knowing that he would be thrown off the case if his past were revealed, Rob takes a fateful decision to keep quiet but hope that he might also solve the twenty-year-old mystery of the woods.
©2007 Tana French (P)2008 Oakhill Publishing
In the Woods is one of the best audiobooks I've listened to - partly because I love the story & the writing (I've actually read it before) - but also because it's very well read.
The protagonist's back story is gripping & informs the present-day plot & main character's actions. Without giving anything away, the main character starts to lose the plot as past & present come together...
I usually prefer reading books but love to listen to audiobooks while driving or walking the dogs. One thing I don't like when listening to an audiobook is the (more old-fashioned) over-the-top storytelling style that quite a few readers have - almost like they're reading to children.
John McCormack reads in a more realist style, more like he's telling you the facts in a one-sided conversation. It draws you in. At the same time his voice is very clear & pleasant to listen to.
At first I thought his BBC accent was some sort of horrible mistake, as the character (told in first person) is Irish, but it emerges that he in fact (for an important reason) does have an English accent. It's a brilliant element of John McCormack's reading that his accent very subtly slides into a more Irish one as events unfold.
Many moving moments - & John McCormack doesn't overplay them - he's a subtle reader. Very effective.
The ending was almost ruined. As the narrator says his last words - voice low, atmospheric - a loud voice comes almost over his voice & intones 'Audible hopes you've enjoyed this program'. I needed a few beats to process what the ending was telling me - frustrating, & completely at odds with the style of book & the reading.
Well worth listening.
The quality of writing continued to impress me.
John McCormack was a good, not great, narrator (but I am fussy). Make sure you get this version rather than the one narrated by Steven Crossley if chronic mouth clicks and whistles give you the creeps.
The lovely Marian Keyes (via Twitter) often heaps praise on Tana French, so I thought I should give her a go. I wasn't disappointed. BUT although this is a series, the next books are about different characters, so there isn't an on-going story arc as such. The second book lost me with its rather far fetched story. This one, though, is very enjoyable, but beware, not every loose end is tied up.
One of the best criminal thrillers, definitely. Keeps you on the edge of your chair and does it by elegant psychological means, not by resorting to guns and chases
pretty much anyone. He takes some getting used to so that you even concentrate enough to understand what he says - Text-to-Voice in Kindle would be about as good. It gets better later in the book, though, so bear with him. The story is worth it!
Who ever wrote the blurb needs to be retired. Looked interesting but far too long and the dialogues are insulting to the Irish (they couldn't be that primitive). I fast-forwarded to the end to find out who did it and even that was a let down.
"I could not put it down"
This was a refreshing book - seemingly ordinary and yet very intricate. The relationships are very believable and when it was finished I missed the characters. I also played in the woods when I was a child and it took me back there. I have just ordered another Tana French book to read on holiday.
"A good listen."
I really enjoy Tana Woods books. Well written, good developed characters and a 'must finish' feel about them. My only gripe is that I always feel the story is never quite finished - unanswered questions too.
This was one of the best choices I have made on Audible. Brilliantly written, excellent characters and dialogues. It was a joy to listen to, kept me on edge the whole time.
My only problem was with the narrator who was a bit annoying. I have never heard anyone speak like this. Not even the Queen pronounces individual words so carefully within a sentence, it just doesn't sound authentic. The accents are great though. When he switches to one the character suddenly comes alive and it doesn't sound like a narrator reading from a book anymore.
"Not as good as later books"
I was impressed by the author's more recent books, Broken Harbour and Faithful Place, but felt that "In the Woods" less good. There's an interesting detective story in it but it's slowed down by too much self-indulgent literary descriptive stuff and wallowing in the visceral effects of shocks and disclosures on the chief character's digestive and nervous systems. I kept wanting to shout "get on with the story!" As par for the course the lead detectives are damaged by their pasts that impinge on the case but it does add to the interest. As is often the case in novels the authors appears to assume that doing an under-graduate course in psychology equips one to learn about and diagnose psychological and mental illness: it doesn't. Clinical psychology is a postgraduate qualification. I felt that the psychological explanation for the actions of one of the protagonists in the murder was far-fetched. I did finish the book but have to admit it was with relief.
The narrator is good.
My review of this novel might be unfair, but the truth is that I was unable to get past more than a few chapters because the narrator made what had been a wonderfully gentle pace of plot in 'Broken Harbour' (different narrator), deadly dull. I found myself listening out for the next cliche while wishing I didn't have to listen to the dialogue between the main character and his new work partner.
Such a shame because I adored 'Broken Harbour' which was one of the best reads I've had. Not sure that I can risk my credits on giving Tana French another chance.
"Strange & pointless"
The premise of the story is promising, and draws you in, but then it just goes on and on, goes nowhere, and dribbles out. Although the crime is solved, the back story for the central character - i.e. the child who survived - is left hanging. While the author probably had a reason for this, it is very unsatisfying as a listener as this what hooked me in the first place. Also, the narrator is awful. Even though the plummy BBC accent is explained, it really spoils the story. Generally, the strange intonations & inflections of the narrator change the meaning of sentences, and often leaves them hanging or as if they were meant to be questions. Specifically, his characterisation of the main suspect makes him sound like a moron.This is the second Tana French book I've listened to - I kept living in hope as it went on, but I should have learned the first time. I don't think I'll listen to any more.
"This writer knows how to grab your attention."
Yes, there is debt to both the story and its characters.
John McCormack brings both male and female characters to your empathy and involvement.
The past plays out the future in psychological destruction....
A more complete ending - either I missed something or the original mystery did not get resolved!
A different narrator - it was painful to listen to. The 'English' accent and intonation was all wrong and spoilt the whole book for me.
The ending to the initial disappearance story. There wasn't one unless I fell asleep and missed it.
Anyone! But ideally the Narrator of Broken Harbour, by the same Author, which was Hugh Lee.
Please check your narrators before releasing books in Audible as this was a disaster.
"could have been a five star"
I like a good read and felt that Tana French may just deliver the right blend of intrigue and interest I enjoy. initially the setting was interesting
and her writing style fresh, but About a third of the way through I was a little puzzled about where this story was taking me: was it a murder mystery or an angst ridden story?..... it didn't seem to gel in places. Then at times I thought we may be getting somewhere but the most interesting characters were not fully formed and what I thought were clues to the plot really fizzled out disappointingly. however I won't give up because it feels as if this is a writer with much better to come.
"I wanted it to be better"
Started off well but I found In The Woods way too bloated. It also dished out a highly unsatisfying ending.
Most readers seem to agree that the second book is better though so I'll give that one a try, too. If nothing else, it helps that we'll be losing Adam Ryan as a narrator, who I didn't care for at all.
I didn't think this read was particularly special. Maybe my expectations were too high. However, I kept wanting to know what was coming and it was well written - except for overuse of the expression "teeth on edge" - that wound me up slightly.
What I will say against it is that the way a certain aspect of the story was left just downright pissed me off. I don't mind ambiguous endings but unfinished is just pointless to me.
The narrator was good but his accent seemed to wobble a bit in places.
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