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Publisher's Summary

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children. He is gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

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.

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  • Lesley
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 07-18-07

Detection with a Difference

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.

133 of 143 people found this review helpful

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Very mixed feelings (semi-spoilers included)

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.

84 of 90 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A near-flawless audiobook (but for one thing...)

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.

104 of 113 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Joan
  • Swamp Yankee
  • 06-07-07

Cannot Recommend Highly Enough

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.

90 of 98 people found this review helpful

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Amazingly Narrated Mystery

I loved the narrator of this book almost as much as I loved the author's writing. Even though I guessed the perpetrator of the crime in the book, I still loved it (and that is rare). The story was good, but I could listen to this author's enchanting style and this narrator's voice for another twenty hours. I recommend this audiobook to people with an appreciation for literary mysteries.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Jan
  • Galax, VA, United States
  • 03-14-12

Looking for the Next Lee Child?

I'm always on the lookout for multiple book authors like Child, John Sanford, Crais and even Clancy and Grisham. Judging from this first book, Ms. French could be next.

This book was a nice break from the American, everything ties up neatly in the end approach. The characters are intriguing and flawed, and ultimately pay the price (and that's the good guy), but oh so compelling, the realpolitik is (gasp) realistic, the story complex and engaging.

The reader was awesome, crafting words and accents with care, precision and art. Definitely a pleasure and a lovely change of pace to listen to an English accent.

As other reviewers have said, I cleaned the kitchen much longer, took the long way home day after day and stayed up late multiple times to get to the end of this one.

First novels by great authors are one of the rarest and greatest pleasures in reading/listening. Don't miss this one.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


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!

50 of 57 people found this review helpful

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Boring and Long

I thought the narrater did a good job. In the end I just found the story to be very slow moving and boring. I thought it was obvious who was guilty and the ending was not satisfying. I can't say much more because I don't want to spoil it for anyone. I don't recommend this book unless you need something to help you fall asleep.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Amazing !

Best narrator ! Awesome. I love every book written by Tana French. In the woods is an amazing book. Great!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mathis
  • Plainview, TX, USA
  • 01-29-09

I didn't care for "In the Woods"

There was a lot of potential with this story. I was excited when I saw the synopsis of it, but after I got to listening to it, it got longer and longer and we weren't going forward in the story. Without trying to give anything away, the "In The Woods" part of the story is never solved. I was hoping that the author would bring them together and tie up all the loose ends. After the story finished, I still feel like I'm "In the Woods".
It was a waste of time and money to listen to this one.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful