In the Woods by Tana French
Twenty years ago three 12-year-old children disappeared in the Knocknaree woods outside of Dublin. Hours late one boy was found in a catatonic state, unable to remember what happened that afternoon. The other boy and girl were never found. Now another young girl’s body was found in the same area. The Irish media pick up the story and revive the 20 year old disappearance as well.
Now Adam “Rob” Ryan, the catatonic boy, works for the Dublin detectives on the Murder Squad – the homicide detectives. He has been able to sink into his new persona and only five people or so in the world know his past. He and his partner, Cassie Maddox, happen to be the detectives available when the Knocknaree murder is reported. He knows he should excuse himself from the case but can’t without revealing his involvement. Ryan and Maddox start hunting a killer. Has the case from 20 years earlier been repeated? As Ryan has some memories surface for the first time, is there a chance they can clear up the old case as well as this new one?
In The Woods is a detective procedural and a psychological thriller. Author Tana French plays with the reader, hooking the reader in further and further into Ryan’s past. It is written in first person narrative from Ryan’s point of view. Thus we see his thoughts as well as the outside action. This is a man who had lost of memories before the disappearance and has changed himself into someone not easily recognized in his old neighborhood.
Ryan and Maddox have a solid relationship and a good sense of timing that a partnership needs when they are assigned this case. If he cannot get his emotions and thoughts under control and focused on the current crime, their relationship could be threatened. He admits that he doesn’t handle everything right. He worked hard to earn a spot on the elite Murder Squad. He wants to keep it and he wants to find and convict the most recent murderer. If he can solve the 20-year-old cold case, even better.
Tana French keeps twisting around this story. Since it is a procedural, the reader follows the detectives as the clues are discovered. It isn’t always easy to keep up and follow the sharp turns the plot takes but the reader is given time to catch up as it keeps going.
In the Woods is a dark novel. I could feel the sunny day turn emotionally gray as I put myself back into the Dublin suburbs. The rain is constantly there, affecting and coloring the plot lines. In the Woods isn’t an easy read – I found myself purposefully taking breaks to bring back the sunshine in my life.
Notice: Non-graphic violence, Suggestive dialogue or situations