Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Review: In the Woods, by Tana French

In the Woods is a dark, sinister, psychological thriller wrapped up in a murder mystery. The characters also have their own stories which make the book more complex than it appears.

Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox are investigating the murder of a 12-year-old girl at an archeological dig in Knocknaree, a suburb of Dublin, Ireland. Many possibilities need to be investigated—residents are protesting a new highway that will shut down this important archeological site, and there is a strange dynamic among the victim’s family. But one important possibility is that this murder is connected to a 1984 murder of two children on this very spot that is, as of yet, unsolved. The big secret, that only Cassie and Rob know, is that those two children were Rob’s friends, he was with them in the wood when this murder occurred, and he remembers nothing.

Cassie and Rob work very well together; their personal relationship is one of deep friendship, but nothing more. The evolution of this relationship, and it’s development throughout the book, adds much personality to this story.

The eventual resolution of the case is tense, as well as surprising. French is an amazing story teller, and keeps the reader guessing throughout, revealing every aspect (and there are several) of the solution with painstaking detail.

I guess that’s my one little problem with the book. French is very detailed. I feel like I know enough about Cassie and Rob that I could buy them Christmas presents. Every detail throughout their entire past is explored. Every detail of the 1984 murder is examined. Every detail of the case and every interview and every step are painstakingly described. The personality of every character is explored. This makes the story rich, I guess, but at times I just wanted to get on with the story!

I listened to this audio book, narrated by Steven Crossly, and I thought he did a great job. His voice was steady and soothing, with enough subtle difference between characters that you could understand, but not over-acted (which is my pet peeve in a narrator.) His British accent gave an authenticity to the narration, and I really enjoyed it. At over 20 hours I think this was the longest audio book I’ve ever listened to.

I’m not sure this book has much YA appeal. I would only give it to my diehard mystery fans. Adult mystery/thriller fans will appreciate it, and I would recommend it with the understanding that it is a bit long. French has published a second novel, The Likeness, in which Cassie is the main character. Her third book, Faithful Place, features a character from The Likeness.

Published by Viking, 2007
Audio book obtained from the library
429 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 3/5


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  1. I read this novel awhile ago for my adult fiction book club and I remember getting bored at times because of the long descriptions. I liked the novel overall, but the main points sometimes got lost between the background information.

  2. Heehee--you got to know them so well, you could buy them Christmas presents. That's great! And a little too detailed for me usually. Sad thing is, if I read a book with too much detail, my eyes just drift right over it until I get back into the story.
    Mary @ BookSwarm


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