In the Woods | Tana French (Book Review)


Paperback, 429 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published 2007)
Original Title: In the Woods
ISBN: 0143113496 (ISBN13: 9780143113492)
Dublin Murder Squad #1
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. He is 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 12-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.

I seem to have fallen into one of the worst reading slumps ever. I have only finished a couple books in the last few months. This happens to me every once in a while where I just get total book ADD and can not finish a book for the life of me.

This book seemed intriguing enough that I thought it would help pull me right out of that slump. I’ve actually had it sitting on my shelf for years because I thought it was going to be really scary so I always avoided it. Then my friend said she would read it too so I thought okay good I’ll have someone to talk about it with and that will help if it is creepy. In the end I was glad I had someone to talk to about how much we hated this book.

The reviews on this book, and the fact that it has won awards, are enough to convince you that you are about to pick up a masterpiece. I am so incredibly convinced though that those people who enjoyed it read a different book than I did. There is a review on the back of the book that says something about the readers “getting lost in the dark woods.” To which I say, the reason we got lost in the woods is because we couldn’t find the plot.

This book has great character development. There is history, deep-seeded darkness, and life to the characters there’s no doubt. That’s all there is though. As far as the plot goes each chapter is the same exact thing worded slightly differently just to make you think you’re getting somewhere when really nothing is actually happening. In fact, you could read the beginning and the end only without actually missing anything.

The end was so wholly unsatisfying that I was left wondering if the sequel to this book was actually going to focus on loose ends she didn’t tie up. I wasn’t about to read it but I spent two weeks thinking I was going to get answers to a huge plot-line and I didn’t so I was at least going to read spoilers online to find out. Turns out, the sequel doesn’t answer any questions either. Color me surprised.

There are a lot of people that really enjoyed this book it seems so maybe it’s one you have to try for yourself. There was a lot of potential with this book and the basic summary of it really would have been good if the book played out the way the summary makes it seem. Instead I felt like the author was just wasting time trying to outsmart you and then laugh at you when you didn’t “figure it out”. There’s obviously something about it that people seem to love but I couldn’t find it. I tried, I kept thinking there was going to be a big pay off, but instead I was just let down page after page.

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    1. Yeah it was a bummer. I don’t typically buy/read crime/mystery novels but this one seemed so promising that I was like oh this will be with it. I was really disappointed. But again, a lot of people have really enjoyed it so maybe it just depends on the person who reads it.

  1. Tana French is one of my favorite writers. TAKE MY ADVICE….Read “The Likeness”. I PROMISE you, you will be on the edge of your seat. It is masterful.

    1. I’ll have to give it a go. It might be a while before I read it though because I need time to get over my anger over this book haha. I don’t trust her yet. But since this was her first book and I did enjoy her writing style I could see how another one would be better!

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