In the Woods : A NoveleBook - 2007
The debut novel of an astonishing voice in psychological suspense
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.
From the Hardcover edition.
Baker & Taylor
Twenty years after witnessing the violent disappearances of two companions from their small Dublin suburb, detective Rob Ryan investigates a chillingly similar murder that takes place in the same wooded area, a case that forces him to piece together his traumatic memories. Reprint.
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This book wasn't quite what I was expecting--it was far more.
French writes with a taut, well-paced style. The story begins with several potential areas of tension: male and female detective partners; a detective who is hiding his true identity because of a childhood trauma; and a murder to solve that has taken place at the site of that childhood trauma. And the author pulls and works each of these strands in the a very taut rope.
Because the story is told in first-person—Detective Rob Ryan is living with the aftermath of a childhood trauma—the reader sees and hears everything he does. But we also see how his mind works. More interestingly, we watch his mind unravel. But French's writing is so tightly paced that the reader is sliding down the treacherous slope with Rob Ryan before we realize it.
Detective Ryan’s story begins as a typical detective investigation, with only a few phrases suggesting he is telling this story from a point in the future. But as the murder investigation continues, the tension between Ryan and his partner builds. This becomes more apparent in Ryan’s telling, as he begins adding more information about their relationship and the changes he begins to recognize after the case.
As the case reaches its tense conclusion, Ryan’s voice becomes a tight balance between distraught and resigned. And the reader cannot put the book down until knowing how the story turns out.
As the investigation concludes, the reader is as exhausted as the investigators. The final chapter is Ryan’s “now.” He is looking back with all the awareness of hindsight, filled with sadness, self-loathing, and resignation.
This reader was left feeling overwhelmed by the emotions in these characters as well as the self-absorption most humans go through life with. One of the most amazing “whodunits” I’ve ever read.
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