- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (May 27, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0143113496
- ISBN-13: 978-0143113492
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2,270 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In the Woods: A Novel Paperback – May 27, 2008
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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 the Hardcover edition.
*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 the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
Tana French’s writing is very nice, and the character development is especially well done. That is very important in this novel, because it is told in first person from Rob Ryan’s perspective and focuses on his psychological unraveling as the murder case intersects with his own involvement as a child in a crime occurring in the same woods. In both of these first two books in the Dublin Murder Squad series, French builds the plot around an unlikely coincidence. I found the unlikeliness to be the weakest aspect of both plots. in this novel, Ryan risks his career, his friendship with Cassie, and a just conclusion to the case, the things most precious to him, by hiding his involvement in the earlier crime. In his retelling, he seems too rational at the beginning of the case to take these risks. The fact that he has absolutely no memory of the previous crime, refused techniques to enhance his memory, but pushes himself to remember during the current case also seems unlikely. I also doubt Cassie’s ability to function as a profiler based on her incomplete undergraduate psychology degree. Both books are intensely psychological with the protagonists’ first-person accounts focusing on understanding the other characters but also on their own coping under stressful conditions.
The unlikeliness aside, the plot is involving--a page-turner. French includes the details of the investigation that readers of police procedurals expect but also enough possible suspects and motives that the story is a true mystery. In spite of the horrible nature of the crime (common to murder mysteries) and the sad circumstances of the lives of some characters, the camaraderie of the murder detectives produces some warmth and humor. I agree with those readers who found the ending less satisfying because of unresolved issues. But, overall, I found it an interesting and worthwhile read and definitely will read the later books in the series.
Rob is a damaged man but has managed to create a persona that tics of every box in the Murder Detective stereotype. He and Cassie are a great team but as he investigates this crime, which harkens back to his own tragic history, Rob begins a slow process of unraveling. No one in his present adult life know about his history, so his presence in the current investigation isn't flagged as the huge potential conflict of interest that it obviously is.
Great characters and good police procedural. I'm not giving anything away but saying that not all mysteries are tied up by the end of the book. As in life, some questions will remain and continue to haunt the survivors.
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