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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 27, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143113496
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143113492
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (997 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Irish author French expertly walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller in her debut. When Katy Devlin, a 12-year-old girl from Knocknaree, a Dublin suburb, is found murdered at a local archeological dig, Det. Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, must probe deep into the victim's troubled family history. There are chilling similarities between the Devlin murder and the disappearance 20 years before of two children from the same neighborhood who were Ryan's best friends. Only Maddox knows Ryan was involved in the 1984 case. The plot climaxes with a taut interrogation by Maddox of a potential suspect, and the reader is floored by the eventual identity and motives of the killer. A distracting political subplot involves a pending motorway in Knocknaree, but Ryan and Maddox are empathetic and flawed heroes, whose partnership and friendship elevate the narrative beyond a gory tale of murdered children and repressed childhood trauma. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, land the first big murder case of their police careers: a 12-year-old girl has been murdered in the woods adjacent to a Dublin suburb. Twenty years before, two children disappeared in the same woods, and Ryan was found clinging to a tree trunk, his sneakers filled with blood, unable to tell police anything about what happened to his friends. Ryan, although scarred by his experience, employs all his skills in the search for the killer and in hopes that the investigation will also reveal what happened to his childhood friends. In the Woods is a superior novel about cops, murder, memory, relationships, and modern Ireland. The characters of Ryan and Maddox, as well as a handful of others, are vividly developed in this intelligent and beautifully written first novel, and author French relentlessly builds the psychological pressure on Ryan as the investigation lurches onward under the glare of the tabloid media. Equally striking is the picture of contemporary Ireland, booming economically and fixated on the shabbiest aspects of American popular culture. An outstanding debut and a series to watch for procedural fans. Thomas Gaughan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Tana French grew up in Ireland, the US, Italy and Malawi. She trained as an actress at Trinity College Dublin and has worked in theatre, film and voiceover. She is the author of In the Woods (2007), The Likeness (2008) and Faithful Place (2010). Her books have won Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Barry and ICVA Clarion awards and have been finalists for LA Times and Strand Magazine awards. She lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
269
4 star
221
3 star
175
2 star
175
1 star
157
See all 997 customer reviews
When I finished the book, I wished I hadn't wasted my time reading it.
Red Rover
At the end of the book, the reader still doesn't know the solution to the mystery...and has a sneaking suspicion that the author doesn't really KNOW what happens.
John W. Tompkins
Moreover, French seems to like the character of Cassie so much that she makes her just about perfect.
A reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

291 of 318 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader VINE VOICE on August 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This novel takes a bit to get going, but once it does you're sucked into a really great mystery novel. The character are flawed but still very real and you find yourself caring about what's happening to them, asking yourself why they are making decisions that are obviously bad, and annoyed when you don't get the ending you've been waiting for since page one. Even better, Tana French immerses us into modern Ireland; a country that continues to ride the Celtic Tiger economy while dealing with all that implies. There are two issues I have with the novel. First, the author basically gives us two plots and gives equal time to both; however, only one of those plots ever reaches any sort of conclusion and the one we most want to see solved is left open ended. Second, while the other plot is resolved it's resolved in way that was very annoying and a major letdown. Maybe the author thought she was being different but ending the novel this way, but it didn't work. No, I don't think every novel has to conclude with everything nicely tidied up, but when I turned the last page I was just left with a feeling of disappointment. Still, it's great novel, especially for an author's first published work.
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207 of 235 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After reading numerous reviews, I am compelled to counter a lot of the remarks by frustrated reader reviewers expecting more of a resolve than is served up in the story.

This is the kind of mystery that feels organic. Language, imagery, poetry, sensuality, metaphor, emotional density, visceral fear--that is how the story is revealed. This isn't exposition and a lot of declarative sentences. It is not formula. It performs a vivisection on genre. As much as it is a mystery of the present murder of a young girl and an unsolved past mystery of the main protagonist's boyhood (he is now a detective who as a young boy survived a violent attack on himself and two friends, who were never found), it is much, much more. It is about the enigmatic quality of relationships, the complicated enmeshments glued by dysfunction, the underbelly of fear that keeps people from leading full lives, and the question of survival in a life of elliptical events.

Detectives Cassie and Adam were characters that haunted me around the clock, even when I was not reading the book. The characterizations were meticulous. The inner dialogue was fresh with deep, psychological insights, and the minor characters were not drawn for convenience or contrivance, either. Not one character seemed cardboard. The book was unputdownable; the story was a generous mix of harrowing and romantic and wry and witty and dramatic and tragic. These qualities make it stand apart from your prosaic thrillers that flood the marketplace.

This is not Stephen King. It is way too literary, layered, full of allusion, and linguistically lush. The author makes it both accessible to the reader while also challenging the senses. She has a grasp of comic timing and dramatic irony. She loves her characters.
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405 of 474 people found the following review helpful By A reader on May 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm usually pretty bad at figuring out whodunnits, but honestly I solved the Katy Devlin murder at around the halfway point -- it was just too obvious. That was a major failure of the book made worse when Ryan addresses the reader at the end and suggests that we have been just as befuddled as he was. French perplexingly seems to suggest that she's pulled a "Murder of Roger Ackroyd" on us with a narrator who tells us in the very first pages that he lies. But in fact he hasn't lied, not even by omission; he's just been phenomenally stupid.

The second major failure of the book was in the way French crafts characters and relationships. The cutesy-poo banter between Cassie and Rob might be fun for a 16-year-old to read, but I found it boring, annoying, excessive and hugely unrealistic. Every single time they interact, there has to be an exchange that I guess the reader is supposed to find clever and sexy, but in fact, the playfulness of their relationship struck me as a kind of clicheed teenage romantic fantasy: the guy and girl are best friends (though not lovers -- yet) and everyone believes they're in love but they are the last to realize it themselves; then when they finally do sleep together, it changes everything...oh please, Ms. French; save that for your YA book.

Moreover, French seems to like the character of Cassie so much that she makes her just about perfect. Cassie is always right, and she does almost all of the detective work on the case. Rob does end up making a key breakthrough, but does so in a way that seems like a fluke on his part, plus that's his sole contribution; everything else is done by Cassie, who is also apparently the only person on the force who knows the definition of a psychopath and understands profiling.
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75 of 88 people found the following review helpful By C. MULCAHY on August 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I could not put this book down. I think Ms. French's' writing style, the story and setting were terrific. There was such a great chance to link these two mysteries together in the end. I woke early on a Saturday morning to finish it and promptly threw it across the room! I was so let down by the ending. What happened Tanya? I do not think I would put myself through another novel by her to be let down once again.
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