In the Woods

I’ve been slow to read Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books, not because I didn’t think I’d enjoy them but because I really didn’t want a new series to read. But since I’ve finished the Patrick O’Brian books, that’s less of an issue right now. And I’ve been in a mood for good crime (hence my recent reads of some classic Ruth Rendells). So now seemed as good a time as any to give the series a try. And I liked this book very much!

The story brings together two of my favorite crime fiction tropes — cold cases and memory loss — and combines it with an enjoyably dark murder mystery. The central mystery is the murder of Katy Devlin, a 12-year-old girl whose body was found in an archaeological dig being conducted in preparation for the construction of a new highway.

Complicating the story is the fact that, decades earlier, two children disappeared near the site of Katy’s murder. And a further complication is that the detective on Katy’s case, Rob Ryan, was with the two children at the time of their disappearance. He remembers almost nothing about it, and his parents sent him to England shortly after. Now back in Ireland, he’s going by his middle name, has an English accent, and has kept his connection to that long-ago crime a secret from everyone but his partner, Cassie Maddox.

The book follows the investigation of the murder and its possible connection to the disappearance, a piece of the investigation that of course is difficult for Rob. And Rob himself makes some ridiculous choices along the way, and these choices put Cassie in a personal and professional bind. The two are close friends as well as partners, and their relationship becomes as important as the crime story. There’s one part of their story that I found rather clunky, but I was overall as interested in them as I was in the mystery.

My only complaint is that the book did drag a tiny bit toward the middle, but right about the time I started to get impatient, big questions started to get answered, and these raised more questions, as well as some significant fallout.

Overall, this was an immensely satisfying book. I liked the messiness of it, and the way it wove together so many interesting threads. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series!

This entry was posted in Contemporary, Fiction, Mysteries/Crime. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to In the Woods

  1. I am now the last person who hasn’t tried Tana French yet! For the same reason as you, that I’ve got too many ongoing mystery series. But I suspect I would enjoy them.

  2. I enjoyed this one and am really looking forward to her new release.

  3. Amy Rea says:

    I’m a big fan of Tana French. In the Woods is still my favorite, although the most recent one in the series came close. I haven’t read her recent stand-alone yet, but will as soon as I get it from the library.

  4. banff1972 says:

    I am a die-hard French fan. They are all so wonderful. She has her longeurs, but I don’t ever find her dull, the way some crime writers are.

  5. Rohan Maitzen says:

    Unlike Dorian, I have sometimes found French’s novels dull — she seems to me (IMHO etc) to already have reached the professional stage where she doesn’t get edited. (To my regret, Elizabeth George is way past this point now, I think. Her recent books have been absurdly too long.) But mostly I still really admire her books, and especially how different they all are from each other. I have liked Faithful Place best so far.

    • Teresa says:

      That’s too bad that they haven’t all held up for you, although I’m glad to hear that you still mostly enjoy them. I’ve encountered few mystery series that hold my interest beyond a few books. (I gave up on George after five or six books, I think, but I can’t really recall why.)

  6. Anne Simonot says:

    I love Tana French, although her novels can be long, and sometimes almost claustrophobic in their narrow setting, timeline, and focus (Broken Harbour, The Secret Place come to mind). I enjoy her books more when the canvas expands, so to speak. Faithful Place & my favourite, The Likeness, are good examples of what I mean, when you get to them. Hugely looking forward to her new one!

  7. Elle says:

    YES I’m so glad you liked this. (The new one, The Witch Elm, is very good too, and her first stand-alone: told from the POV of a victim, not a detective.)

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