In the Woods by Tana French – Review

Cover- In the Woods

Published: May 27, 2008

Publisher: Penguin Books

Series: Dublin Murder Squad #1

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 431 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4.0/5.0


A gorgeously written novel that marks the debut of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense.

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. He is 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 12-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.

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a proper mystery story with lots of cops and murder involved. Well, since I read the last Theo Cray book anyway. Tana French is an author I’ve been wanting to read for a few years now and I decided now was the time. 

I was instantly engrossed in this book and loved the character right off. Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Detective Cassie Maddox were brilliant together – great dynamic, great dialogue, and a convincing, natural partnership. They’re on the case of a girl that was murdered and left on a sacrificial stone at an archeological dig and it’s oddly similar to a murder than happened many years before. Rob Ryan was then Adam Ryan and was only about twelve. He had two best friends he grew up with and they did everything together. Except get murdered. His two friends were never found and Adam was found terrified out of his mind in the woods with blood soaking through his shoes from the inside. He could never remember any details and the bodies were never discovered. The story is mostly dealing with the current day murder, but it’s brought his past to the forefront of his mind and Rob spends a lot of time thinking about his friends and even dreams about them.

The current day murder is not overly grotesque – a young girl disappears and is found with her head staved in on this alter-like rock at the dig site. Rumors abound – was it a cult killing? Did it have something to do with the motorway about to be put in that her father opposes? Was it one of the archaeologists? Is it related to the missing children so many years before? It’s quite a good mystery and the identity of the murderer isn’t sprung on you out of nowhere – when you look back at the story things become clear that you may have dismissed as nothing. The best part was watching Rob and Cassie work their detective skills to maximum… UNTIL ROB IS AN IDIOT AND SCREWS EVERYTHING UP. Oh my gosh. I have never been so furious in all my life. I had to stop listening to the book for a bit just to calm down (after a therapeutic rant to my husband). GRRRR. All I gotta say is, good thing the next book focuses on a new perspective because I hate Rob now.

Overall, this was a great book that really makes you feel for the characters – loved Rob and Cassie right up until Rob decided he was going to make terrible decisions. Still love Cassie though and she’s the focus of the next book! This was solid writing and now I’m quite interested in checking out the tv series based off the novels called the Dublin Murders. This is getting 4 stars rather than a higher rating because I’m still furious about Rob for being such a MORON. 

2 thoughts on “In the Woods by Tana French – Review

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