In The Woods

Title: In The Woods
Author: Tana French
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2007
Number of pages: 429
Rating: 4 out of 5

“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 a 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 before him, and that of his own shadowy past.”

It’s no wonder that In The Woods won an Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author. The character development is supreme, the plot an intricately woven, finely detailed, multi-faceted work.

True enough, the surprises keep unraveling as one turns each page. But, I was left with a deeply seated sense of disappointment; although I’ve discovered the horrendously profound effects laid on the child left behind in the woods, I never discovered exactly what happened on that terrible night. We know how neatly wrapped up the most recent murder is, but not, unfortunately, the specifics of its antecedent on our boy turned detective. For this, a book I would have given five stars quickly became four.

However, you may not like things as neatly tied up as I do.

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14 thoughts on “In The Woods”

  1. I recently finished this book and although I haven't had a chance to review it yet, I couldn't agree more. I wanted to know the ending to the earlier mystery and was frustrated to find that I wouldn't end up knowing it. It was a good read though!

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  2. Phew, Samantha, I'm glad that I didn't miss something! I was beginning to question my own literacy, and then I figured that there's more to the story than a simple plot. It just shows you: Spring Break=give me something simple mindset. It was a good read, as long as one doesn't mind lose ends. (I could never be a detective!)

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  3. I read "The Likeness", which is the sequel to this book first. Typical for me, to read things out of order. I have this book sitting on my shelves waiting patiently for its turn. I loved "The Likeness"…the character development is amazing. You get some reflections in this story that refer back to "In the Woods" but not much. You are not the first person whose expressed disappointment in the resolution, or lack thereof. I don't necessarily need closure, so it will be interesting to see how it sits with me!

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  4. CJ, I hear the following book (The Likeness) has two of the same characters, but not the boy whose life was destroyed. It's so childish of me to want all the ends neatly tied up, but in the case of mysteries that's exactly what I expect!Sandy, I'm glad I'm not alone!

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  5. Sandy summed it up quite well — You aren't the first to express disappointment about the lack of resolution. But you know, it didn't really bother me. I was disappointed, but I still enjoyed the book and was able to let go of the lack of closure when I moved on to the second book. I think you'll enjoy The Likeness and hope you do read it. It's very, very good. Excellent character development and suspense. I think it's the better of the two, if that helps you decide.

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  6. Les, thanks for clarifying my confusioin! I thought I'd lost all my comprehension skills for a moment there, when I closed the last page. I'm so uptight I love closure, but now that I know it's supposed to read like this, I can let it go and enjoy the character development. It was a beautifully written book, and I'm looking forward to The Likeness.

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  7. I've seen this one around a lot but I haven't decided if I want to seek it out or not. I find that sometimes I need to have a neatly wrapped ending and sometimes I don't mind things being left undone. Guess it just depends on how crafty the author is? I'm still trying to figure out Kafka on the Shore, even though I am finally feeling satisfied. 🙂

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  8. Trish, I'm rereading Kafka on The Shore this Spring because I definitely feel a lot passed me by on that one! It was comforting to read Murakami himself say that it needs several readings…I wonder if ten would be enough? 🙂 Still, I loved Kafka, not at all annoyed by the unresolved questions, and this one? Annoyed 'til I die!

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  9. This is on my wishlist and I can't help but be curious about what happened. I'll get to it eventually but I'm afraid it may be longer if I don't get to find out what happened to the boy. That's the whole reason I wanted to read it lol.

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  10. I loved this one but I admit it took me a couple of days to think on it and see what I really thought of the ending. Finally, I decided it worked for me :)Are you going to read the follow-up? It doesn't go back to this story but it definitely offers more closure so you may like it better. It was very good.

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  11. Lady Tink, I know! I half wanted to know, and half didn't, until I got to the end when I realized I was dying to know what happened to him. Now we'll never know for sure. ;)Iliana, I find myself thinking on it since I've finished it as well. It does work, on some level, just not the level of Solved Mystery as television shows love to portray. (Stupid television, thinking life can be neatly wrapped up in half hour segments.) I am going to read The Likeness, but I'm going to suspend all expectations before I start. Lesley also told me it was very good.

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  12. JoAnn, it's still worth the read. Just don't expect the expected as in a typical mystery. For that reason alone, it's worthy: who wants the same old, same old?

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