This is my job, and you don’t go into it – or if you do you don’t last – without some natural affinity for its priorities and demands. What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this – two things: I crave truth. And I lie. – from In The Woods, page 4 –
Whenever a novel begins with the narrator telling the reader not to trust him, I know I am in for a twisty story where the truth may never be uncovered. In The Woods is one of those books. Murder detective Rob Ryan has a secret about his past. Twenty years ago, as a child, he walked into the Irish woods with his two closest friends. They have never been found and he has no memory of what happened on that dark day when searchers brought him home with his sneakers full of blood. So when a call comes in for Rob and his partner Cassie to respond to the murder of a twelve year old girl in those same woods, he feels a twinge of fear and trepidation.
Tara French’s debut thriller sets out to uncover the mystery of Katy Devlin’s murder, while exploring the psyche of lead detective Ryan. French intersperse’s memories from Rob’s past with the present day case, adeptly weaving one story into the other. The novel is fast paced and intriguing with writing that is not only engaging, but also character driven.
The flaw in this book, in my opinion, is the ending. Readers who like their mysteries solved will find In the Woods a bit frustrating. Although Katy’s murderer is ultimately uncovered, there are other plot lines left unfinished. As the story unfolds, Rob devolves from a likable character to one who left me largely unsatisfied.
Despite these drawbacks, I found French’s novel mostly compelling. My favorite character was Cassie – Rob’s competent yet vulnerable partner – and for this reason I am very much looking forward to reading the sequel to In The Woods. The Likeness, released last year, is narrated by Cassie six months after In The Woods closes.
Tana French is a solid writer who spins a suspenseful thriller. Readers who enjoy well crafted mysteries and don’t mind if all the ends are not neatly sewn up will love In The Woods.
May 22, 2009
I’ve been absent from this weekly event for a few weeks – but never fear, I have been adding books to my wish list anyway! As always, clicking on the book title will take you to a site where you can purchase the book; clicking on the blog who reviewed the book will take you to the review of the book.
Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier as featured on Meghan’s blog Medieval Bookworm is about a pirate and a lady. I loved Rebecca, and so I am always looking at reviews of du Maurier’s other work. Meghan writes: ‘The story is intriguing and the book is an absolute pleasure to read.‘ She also notes there is a new addition of this novel from Sourcebook.
Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon by Jorge Amado as featured on Sharon’s blog Ex Libris is set in a small Brazilian town. Sharon writes: ‘There are numerous colorful characters with plots and sub-plots, all written vibrantly and with a generous dose of humor.‘ I love books like this and I am always looking for another book to meet my goal to read around the world.
The Spare Room by Helen Garner as featured on Fleur Fisher Reads is about friendship in the face of serious illness: ‘The Spare Room is a powerful and deeply emotional book. It was difficult and sometimes painful to read, but I am so glad that I did.‘ I am always looking for extraordinary books that explore the depth of human emotions and this one looks like it fits the bill.
Paradise by A.L. Kennedy as featured on Sharon’s blog Ex Libris is about the cost of alcoholism on one woman’s life and those around her. Sharon writes: ‘With brilliant prose that is at times breathtaking, Kennedy takes us, willingly or unwillingly, into the inner psyche of an alcoholic’s mind.‘ and ‘Paradise may or may not be a book you will enjoy, but I guarantee you will be riveted either way. It is a story that will remain with you for a long time.‘
An Elegy for Easterly by Petina Gappah as featured on Margaret’s blog Books Please is another one for my reading around the world stack. This collection of short stories is “about the lives of people in Zimbabwe, struggling to live with escalating inflation, where a loaf of bread costs half a million dollars, of corruption, scams, disappointed lives, unfulfilled dreams and broken promises. They paint a bleak picture of the resilence and resistance of people in extreme circumstances, coping with despair.”
What books have you “found” lately? To share your finds and see links to other readers’ posts, visit Jenn at Should Be Reading today!