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, howeve..Show More »r, 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.
This may be the first review I've written on Audible (I'm a long-time listener, first-time caller). Both this book and its superb narration (by Heath..Show More »er O'Neill) were completely riveting. It may not impress devotees of crime fiction, since it does take liberties with the investigation at its center (at times rendering it a mere pretext for the psychodrama that is its real focus), but the creation of such densely wrought, moving, and frankly likable characters engrossed me as much as any more generically "pure" police procedural. Cassie Maddox is one of the most appealing protagonists I've come across in contemporary fiction. And the book is, simply put, astonishingly well-written. French seems to be in the business of world-making rather than crime fiction: she uses the Dublin murder department as the occasion for producing a richly imagined vision of contemporary Ireland, one as intricate and historically nuanced as that of her compatriot, the brilliant John Banville. (Ironically, Banville's own mystery writing--under the pseudonym Benjamin Black--cannot really touch French's for depth and wit.) Those looking for a whodunit will be rightfully disappointed by this book (as numerous reviewers have indicated); those looking for a gripping take on the psychology of deception and identity, and on the ethics of what people owe to one another, will be enthralled.
I didn't just listen to this book; it's more like I was consumed by it. Tana French doesn't write in a serial fashion like other mystery authors. Sh..Show More »e explores a group of people, character by character; her books are almost more stand-alone novels than a series. I think this one is her best so far, even though I really loved the first two. Frank has to solve an old murder, a contemporary murder, and resolve how each has influenced his life. There is so much more here than the usual murder mystery; if that's all you want, download something else. French's characters are fully-developed; they are human beings, with faults, damage, and in this case, a strong will in Frank to rise above his beginnings. The bonus here is French's marvelous command of Irish street language (vulgarity alert!); it's a witty, sometimes laugh-out-loud counterpoint to the tragedy of poverty, death, and struggle. Her approach is a refreshing change to the formulaic writing that most mystery writers can't break away from. "Faithful Place" is a love story within a murder mystery, solved years after the fact. Discovery of the murder nearly destroys Frank's family and threatens to destroy him; it's an exploration of his struggle to deal with his past and create a future for himself. Either you like French's approach or you don't, but what you don't get here is same-old same-old mystery solving. French develops the plot by uncovering, layer by layer, events of the past as seen through various characters' eyes, and their motivations for their actions, their pain, and their prejudices. It's not until the very end of the book that the murderer is revealed, along with not only the motivation for the person's actions, but the story behind the motivation. It's a complex, compelling story, and it's made me more of a Tana French fan than I was before - and I waited impatiently for this book to become available. It's like nothing you've read before, even by the same author.
While those who have read Faithful Place were introduced to Frank “Skorcher” Kennedy, we obviously didn’t scratch the surface. He starts Broken Harbor..Show More » in about the same place French last left him spouting cop jargon and bragging about solve rates. Though the events from the Faithful Place novel have left his reputation a little tarnished. In a bid for redemption, Frank takes a case involving the attack on a family after which only the mom survived. He’s also showing a relative newbie the murder squad ropes, the uncannily perceptive Ritchie. He’s also dealing with a mentally ill sister who has shown up just in time to upend his life. When the case ends up more complicated than he could have imagined, Frank’s path to the killer requires him to question everything he was certain he knew.
First, I’m a fan of the entire Dublin Murder squad series. I find that Tana French ups her skill with every subsequent book. Broken Harbor has officially replaced Faithful Place as my favorite. Second, everything I love about the series is here: complex mysteries with genuine surprises, a fascinating and layered view of modern Dublin, and some of the best interrogation scenes I have ever read. French also tackles another “partner” relationship which she hasn’t touched much since Rob and Cassie in her debut, In the Woods. One of the things that stand out the most in Harbor is French’s vivid portrayal of the victim’s marriage and family life. Through some clever plot situations we get layered depictions of this family which makes their story fascinating. Frank’s character development is also entirely honest which by the end of the book makes the reader a genuine fan. Broken Harbor is a gift for mystery fans. And while each book in the series stands alone, once you read one, you will want to read all four. I for one cannot wait for the next installment.
I listened to the audio version performed by Stephen Hogan. About 90% of Steven Hogan’s reading is wonderful. However, he does a really screechy impression of Frank’s sister which unfortunately puts the listener off.