Author: Tana French
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #1
Read: March 22, 2014
Summary: As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. 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, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. 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.
Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones. And look for French's new mystery, Broken Harbor, for more of the Dublin Murder Squad. goodreads
Review: I loved the intro to this book. I thought it set it up perfectly and got me very excited from the beginning. Take a glance:
Picture a summer stolen whole from some coming-of-age film set in small-town 1950s. This is none of Ireland's subtle seasons mixed for a connoisseur's palate, watercolor nuances within a pinch-sized range of cloud and soft rain; this is summer full-throated and extravagant in a hot pure silkscreen blue. This summer explodes on your tongue tasting of chewed blades of long grass, your own clean sweat, Marie biscuits with butter squirting through the holes and shaken bottles of red lemonade picnicked in tree houses. It tingles on your skin with BMX wind in your face, ladybug feet up your arm; it packs every breath full of mown grass and billowing was lines; it chines and fountains with bird calls, bees, leaves and football bounces and skipping-chants, One! two! three! This summer will never end. It starts every day with a shower of Mr. Whippy notes and your best friend's knock at the door, finishes it with long slow twilight and mothers silhouetted in doorways calling you to come in, through the bats shrilling among the black lace trees.
Seriously, if that doesn't give you goosebumps, you didn't read it right. I was hooked from the very beginning because the prologue took me back to my summers growing up in suburbia and all of the feelings that went along with it. I don't remember the rest of the book being as lyrical as this but I loved this setting of the scene. Soon after this eloquent description, we meet Det. Rob Ryan. As the narrator, he introduces himself with the following:
"What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this-- two things: I crave truth. And I lie."
We then go on to find out that he was one of the three children described in the prologue that disappeared and he was the only one who was found. I was hooked. I love a good mystery and this had all of the elements. Unfortunately, as the story progressed and eventually ended, I found myself looking for more. More answers, more truth, more story because I didn't feel like it was finished. I'm going to go ahead and say
now because I can't talk about my issues with this story without focusing on the main spoiler. You've been warned.
We never find out what happened to Ryan and his friends!!! What??? I'm glad they figured out the Katy murder but really, I was more intersted in this mystery. I loved how they interwove both of these stories and each one had an impact on the other but they never finished the initial mystery. I looked into it and no other books in this series touch on the story or what happened to the kids. I hate that! And for someone who "craves the truth," Det. Ryan sure gave up easily. Pretty much ruined all of the positive things I had to say about this book.
I was also really disappointed with where Ryan and Cassie's relationship ended up. I hate that he ruined everything by turning into the stereotypical "I don't want a relationship which means we can't interact" boy after they got together. I loved the plutonic friendship they had going but it took that turn and everything turned to crap. Ryan also went off the deep end at that point which made it hard to tell what was actually going on. I figured the "I lie" thing was going to come into play more at some point but it didn't really. It seemed more like he lost his sanity for a period of time and acted on that rather than deliberately lying.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book until the ending. I didn't like how the relationships turned out or how the mysteries were solved (or not.) But I enjoyed the build up and that is why I think I was so upset in the end. I really enjoyed some of the foreshadowing that Ryan used. He would reference something screwing things up in the future or state that he should have known how this would affect things. But then it didn't really affect them at all and he shouldn't have seen it coming. I don't know. I'm not looking for a happy ending by any means but at least wrap up the loose ends. So this book gets 3/5. I really enjoyed the build up but was extremely let down in the end. Anyone else read this?
(ps sorry about the formatting. Blogger wouldn't cooperate.)