Review: In The Woods by Tana French

Thursday, 24 April 2014 03:02
Title: In The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)
Author: Tana French
Publication Date: November 18th, 2008
Genres: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Adult
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

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 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 twelve-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. Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones. And look for French's new mystery, Broken Harbor, for more of the Dublin Murder Squad

“We think about mortality so little, these days, except to flail hysterically at it with trendy forms of exercise and high-fiber cereals and nicotine patches.” 

I strongly suggest you not read this book for its mystery. The mystery part of it is quite simple, nothing mind-blowing, really. Also, I suggest you to have a strong dose of patience if you think you might get easily distracted. 

I honestly cannot express my emotions right now. They’re confused and mixed up and are all over the place. At some point, while reading this book, I kept thinking when will I come to the part where my mind gets blown to pieces? When, when, when? But I failed to realize then that my mind was far busy getting terribly affected by this book (in a good way) rather than getting blown away by it.

You know, I always think that getting blown away by a book is as simple as me exclaiming “God, this book is bloody fucking awesome!” Of course, in retrospect, I understand that I’m awfully wrong. 

Let me tell you, this book has a very good and a very interesting plot which I highly doubt will blow your mind away if you've read a fair share of crime books or watched detective/crime/thriller TV shows and movies. The characters, however, will definitely affect you in a visceral way. 

Especially our main character, Rob Ryan. 

“I suppose I've always had a yearning, in spite of the fact that I am temperamentally unsuited to the role in every possible way, to be a hero out of myth, golden and reckless, galloping bareback to meet my fate on a wild horse no other man could ride.” 

The one thing that I really loved about this particular character is how much I found myself relating to him. He’s normal yet different, might be boring to some and damn interesting to others. He makes mistakes, he’s not perfect and posh, he’s just normal but in a very different way.

Also, this was the part that undid me. It broke my heart and made me cry and every bit of it is true.

“And then, too, I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn't find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself.” 

The best part of this story is the friendship between Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox. Again, only in retrospect did I realize how much I had craved for a friendship like that. Ryan and Maddox are intoxicating. They get to you, they make your heart light and they make you smile with how well they get along with each other. 

Also, don’t get into this book knowing every bit of its story. It might not have the same effect, you know. All I knew when I read this book was that Ryan was a detective, he was one of the three kids who came back from the woods and now he was solving a case with his partner, a case that might be suspiciously linked to his past.

Back to the beginning, as I was saying, when will I get blown away by this book? I already gave an answer that my mind was slowly getting pulled in by French's wordy descriptions and that it was not able to signal other parts of my body quick enough. But if you're still wondering when I was able to realize all of this, it was only in the end when everything turned upside down and back again, when everything was over, that was when I realized what a masterpiece Tana French has written.