Author: Tana French
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: May 2008
THE DEBUT NOVEL OF AN ASTONISHING NEW VOICE IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE
In Tana French's powerful debut thriller, three children leave their small Dublin neighborhood to play in the surrounding woods. Hours later, their mothers' calls go unanswered. 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, Detective Rob Ryan--the found boy, who has kept his past secret--and his partner Cassie Maddox investigate the murder of a twelve-year-old girl in the same woods. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case him, and that of his own shadowy past.
"What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie."
As the narrator of the story Detective Rob Ryan takes us through two stories simultaneously. We start off with the mystery of what happened to him and his friends that fateful day in the woods. He was the only survivor and nobody seems to know what happened to his friends, Jamie and Peter, including him. Throughout his childhood he would often wonder and question whether his friends were alive and if they left him. His story is weaved in occasionally during the current investigation of twelve year-old Katy Devlin who was killed in the same woods. Ryan is convinced there's a connection between the two cases but the only problem is that he can't remember anything the day his friends disappeared. While working with his friend and partner Detective Cassie Maddox he starts to lose touch with reality. Ryan had no choice but to tell Detective Maddox about his past. They both try to keep it hidden from the Chief and they're new partner Sam O'Neill but Maddox is often concerned about Ryan's mental state and realizes that he isn't handling the Devlin case well. Ryan keeps remembering odd details from his friends disappearance but starts to make serious mistakes in the Devlin case. It finally came to a head when his house of cards fell down and not even his friendships were able to survive.
I was a conflicted reading this book. I'd heard a lot of good things about it and couldn't wait to read it but I found Detective Ryan to be infuriating, self-sabotaging, immature and lost. I wanted to like him as a character but all I wanted to do was yell at him for making very dumb mistakes. He is an oxymoron. I sympathized with him for what he went through when he was young and his abandonment issues but on the other hand he had no self-awareness of the way he behaved and treated others until it was too late. The story line was good and Ryan told it well but there were times it needed to pick up a bit. Are there parts I would take out of the book? Nothing that I could pinpoint to but there was a sense of dragging. There were times I wondered how he became a detective. It often seemed he wanted to play detective more than be one. While he wasn't inept at all Maddox definitely held up a lot more than her end of the stick.
I know it sounds like I really didn't like this book and it's strange that I would give it for 4 Book Rating but it wasn't the story line that I disliked it was the character which to me shows I invested a lot of emotional time in the book which makes it a good book to read. Would I read it again? Honestly, probably not. This has no bearing on French as a writer but has more to do with Ryan the character. Am I going to read the second book to this series? Yes, I want to know if the original case gets solved. I want to know what happened to Adam Ryan's friends and why he was let go or how he was able to escape. To me that was the more compelling story and not the Devlin murder.
Did you read In the Woods? What did you think? Did you like the book? Would you read another of French's books? Have you read any other of her books? What did you think of Adam Ryan and Cassie Maddox? Is there anything you would alter in the story?
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