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In The Woods by Tana French


"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with the truth is fundamental, but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies ... and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely ... This is my job ... What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie."
opening lines of In The Woods chapter 1, pages 3-4
In The Woods by Tana French, an Irish writer, is an extremely well-written and well-crafted mystery novel. The downside is that this is French's debut novel, and her website (located at http://www.tanafrench.com/) does not offer any insight as to when we might expect a follow up.

In The Woods contains two parallel mysteries. The first involves the main character and narrator, Rob Ryan, who went into the woods one day many years ago with two childhood friends. The children are missing, a search ensues, and the only one found is Ryan, who is discovered clinging to a tree with blood soaked feet. His two friends are never seen nor heard from again, and their fates are shrouded in mystery. Ryan suffers amnesia regarding exactly what happened in those woods to him and his friends on that long ago day. This traumatic experience and the fact that the mystery of his friends' fates was never solved haunts Ryan into adulthood and taints his relationships and friendships.

The second mystery emerges in the present day when a girl is brutally murdered and her body dumped on an archaeological dig site in Ryan's hometown on the edge of the woods in which his friends disappeared. Are these two mysteries connected by more than just mere geography? This is the question that haunts Ryan throughout the novel, and he struggles to solve this present day murder (he is a homicide detective) and force his mind to give up the memories of what happened in that same wood several years previous. He realizes almost too late that both mysteries threaten more just the case and his career--they also threaten his relationship with his partner and his life as he knows it. Before he can do anything to stop the downward slide he has begun, everything quickly and irrevocably spirals out of control.

The novel is well written with an interesting and unusual setting in Dublin, Ireland that quickly becomes a character in its own right in the novel. You won't be able to put this book down, and I hope you'll take the time to check it out. It is available here at the library and is located at Fic/Fre upstairs in adult fiction. It is currently being shelved in the New Arrivals section next to the water fountain.

--Reviewer Ms. Angie

Comments

Declan Burke said…
Hi Ms Angie - Re: Tana French's follow-up to IN THE WOODS ... this may be of some help.
http://crimealwayspays.blogspot.com/2007/08/unbearable-likeness-of-being_20.html
Cheers, Declan
rhiannyn said…
Luckily, I didn't pay for the book In the Woods. Otherwise, cranky would hardly cover my feelings upon finishing it. What a misnomer that was. It would have been more aptly named On the Altar. It was an excellent, riveting book until the end of the last sentence on the last page. I kept right on reading, because I thought surely I was mistaken. Apparently not. I won't be reading any further books from this author until she gets around to writing the book that addresses and resolves the main story line from In the Woods - that one I'll read.
Oh, and I'm not looking for a "sugary", all's well that ends well conclusion. But I do want a resolution, which is meaty and substantial... and worthy of the build up.
rhiannyn said…
Luckily, I didn't pay for the book In the Woods. Otherwise, cranky would hardly cover my feelings upon finishing it. What a misnomer that was. It would have been more aptly named On the Altar. It was an excellent, riveting book until the end of the last sentence on the last page. I kept right on reading, because I thought surely I was mistaken. Apparently not. I won't be reading any further books from this author until she gets around to writing the book that addresses and resolves the main story line from In the Woods - that one I'll read.
Oh, and I'm not looking for a "sugary", all's well that ends well conclusion. But I do want a resolution, which is meaty and substantial... and worthy of the build up.
Nick said…
To your comment, Rhiannyn....i too was disappointed to not have a resolution however; I loved the book initself so much i went straight away to buy the second one, hoping for more of a conclusion...although i have yet to find out what happened in those woods....but i could not put this second book down!! i loved it....and i am eagerly anticipating more from this author!
Anonymous said…
Well, Nick, as I said, I did love the book, right up until the end. I am afraid to read her next book, because I do not want to be left high and dry again. It is frustrating, and irritating, to say the least. I hope she writes a conclusion to In the Woods... and then, if the reviews of her second book indicate she is not in the habit of 'non-endings', then I will read it! :) Thanks for your response :) rhiannyn
Anonymous said…
I read both of her books and was smitten by her writing as well as the suspense. I read both of them straight through the day. The lack of an answer in both of them was such a letdown, I was going to try to contact the author and complain. The 'decide for yourself' ending was tremendously disappointing!
Anonymous said…
Well, that pretty much settles it for me, not reading any more of her books until conclusions are forthcoming. Yes, it was a letdown in the first book, not willing to suffer that again.

[and once again I cannot log in to this account, keeps saying my password is wrong.. i only ever use 4 passwords, and only 1 has 8 letters... so... pffth]

rhiannyn
Tom said…
If I understand correctly, you are frustrated that the reader never learns what happened in the woods to the young Adam. I share that frustration, BUT, I keep thinking that I simply missed it. I think somehow the clues are all in there but so well hidden (as Rob himself hid buried them so deeply in his subconscious) that we must look very hard to find them.
bob usofa said…
LOVED THE BOOK.THE ENDING COULD NOT HAVE BEEN BETTER.WHAT CLUES HAVE I MISSED AND THE NEXT BOOK HAS ONLY MADE IT WORSE.BUT I HAVE TIME AND CASSIE AND ROB WILL BE BACK.
Anonymous said…
Have just finished reading In the Woods - cannot tell tell you how frustrated it has left me! so much so that I have re-read from half way just incase I have missed something- the story line about the main character is not dealt with at all and leaves so many questions at the end! Very disappointed.
Martin said…
I dislike novels that need the lead characters to act stupidly to create the (truly letdown of an ending) twist, strange or whatever ending French was going for. In addition, what was the reason for hinting at the supernatural for Rob's childhood experiences and just letting it lay there? I figured out the modern mystery about two-thirds of the way through and was thoroughly disappointed at how the second was handled. I don't need tidy conclusions, but this was not worthy of the time I spent reading it. It will take a boatload of great reviews for me to read her second.
Anonymous said…
How utterly cruell to build up to such a beautiful,almost unique relationship between,Adam and Cassie, and then to drift them apart forever. Cruel on me, tyhe reader!!!
Anonymous said…
I must say I was impressed with Tana French's writing because it does not have the predictable tone of the usual police-thriller. As to the solution to the mysteries--I thought that the Katy Devlin murderer was not a complete shocker (we're not all as stupid as Adam) and the ending to the more haunting of the two mysteries doesn't exist! I cannot tell you how frustrating this was--esp. as afterwards I was too annoyed to go to sleep straight away. Its just plain irresponsible on an author's part to build up such a good mystery and then drop it! If Miss. French does someday come up with a sequel however, all will be forgiven!
lltf1979 said…
I agree with all above comments... my first words after i finished was.. "WHAT??"
... I couldnt believe there was no resolution to the main mystery....

I couldnt believe Cassie and Rob's relationship could end like that, and then she and Sam??!!!! ...crazy & very disappointing.
illegallyblind said…
Agreed--Sam!?--ye gods. I've read both, didn't have a problem with how 'The Likeness' ended, although I'd have liked more detail on Daniel. I was hoping something would come out in 'The Likeness' to elaborate on the ending of 'In the Woods' & hope her third, which I've recently read, is from the perspective of Frank Mackey (!) will tie things together in some way. I do like the way she writes, but find the evasion of an ending to 'In the Woods' annoying.
Anonymous said…
Is there a third novel? If so what is the name of it? I've been trying to find out information about her future work. I personally figured her next book would be from Sam's perspective since he is one of the original trio but it certainly would be intriguing to hear from Frank. I have to say that I still feel sad that Cassie and Rob never make it up. Tana French made a comment in an interview that she wasn't done with Rob Ryan so I'm guessing that either he works out some of his demons or else turns truly evil. Yikes! I hope not.
EmmaFrets said…
Consider the possibility that Adam's friendship with Jamie and Peter and loss of them is mirrored in Rob's friendship with Cassie and Sam? There is also a loss. He also loved both Jamie and Cassie (he kissed Jamie on the cheek that time?)......
With the friendship, he turns away from Cassie and Sam as his former friendships ended too... That is the only way he knows.

Maybe.
BarakiEl said…
Agree with almost everyone here:
Deeply unsatisfying. The book left me feeling pretty much disappointed, dissatisfied, confused and I don't know what else. Perhaps the word is dumbstruck. I am glad I am not the only one.
I can understand that perhaps, since this is a murder mystery type book, the author might have felt the need to keep things realistic. But come on, even in real life there are SOME happy endings.
* spoiler don't read: *
The real murderer goes free, the romantic relationship fails, the main mystery does not get resolved. I'm sure there are others.
* end of spoiler *
I keep thinking: "What the hell did I read the book for?"

She's a good author, witty, has good humor and builds suspense well. I just wish there was at least ONE (happy) ending... One storyline that gave a shred of closure.
Derek said…
I have just finished reading this book. Definitely a big let down at the in. The whole story was great but now my head is left spinning trying to figure out what really did happen in the woods that day. Maybe Tana French is writing a book about it now. Maybe
Zarzuella said…
I don't agree with the majority here; I do not expect every novel to be neatly wrapped up and tied with (pink?) ribbon as some of the previous reviewers would seem to prefer.

Ryan was left with his buried demons, which is often just the way things happen in real life.

Excellent writer, I'm very much looking forward to reading her next two novels.
Luna Wolfe said…
I know, not every story ends just perfectly. But she could've at least given a hint as to who did it! It was the only reason why I kept reading -- I never figured out who killed Katy until the very very end, but I never really cared too much. I just wanted to know what happened to Adam and Peter and Jamie. Then she just denied us an ending and -- UGH! It's just horrible!!
Ms. Angie said…
Luna, that drove me crazy too! I couldn't take it! Who did it? What happened? Why were they never seen again? I wish she would have given more closure to that story line, too.
Traci Jo said…
I must say that I finished reading this book after about a month and I very much enjoy reading. I do not need cookie cutter endings, but an ending to the original story and the initial catch that is described on the back of the book when I chose to read it would have been nice. I am utterly exhausted with reading this as it took way too long to get going, it was MUCH too detailed for such a seemingly basic storyline turning into an obscene amount of story plots....what was the point of the whole motorway thing anyway? What was Sam's uncles real "scandal" THere were so many pointless parts that were brought into what seemed to be an awesome starting storyline for a book. In the end I am extremelly dissapointed and feel much as the others do..(it's late and now I can't sleep because I'm so irritated over this stupid storyline being unsolved!) In all reality I was more interested in what happened in the woods to Rob's friends than what happened to Katy since that was the plot that caught my eye on the back of the book when I purchased it in the first place! Horrible. I will NOT recommend this to anyone. I most likely will not read the so called "sequel" because I'm sure it will end up much like the one I just read...dissapointing ending and unfinished story plot.
Karen Clements said…
I love all four of her books. Hope there is a number five. Endings are sometimes not what we hope for. Faithful Place was my favorit

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