The debut novel of an astonishing 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 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Tana French’s mystery novels are so good, even people who don’t think they like mysteries will love them. Why? Because her characters are even more fascinating than her gripping, tightly constructed plots. In the Woods has two mysteries at its heart: the murder of a twelve-year-old girl and the mysterious disappearance of two children two decades earlier. The cases are connected by an investigating detective who’s the lone survivor of the earlier incident and who has no memory of what happened to him. Both story lines are genuinely puzzling and at times sinister and eerie. We were totally blown away by the beauty of French’s prose and the psychological depth of her characters. The source for TV’s Dublin Murders, In the Woods—the first book of French’s loosely linked Dublin Murder Squad series—is an amazing introduction to one of the genre’s best writers.
Irish author French expertly walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller in her debut. When Katy Devlin, a 12-year-old girl from Knocknaree, a Dublin suburb, is found murdered at a local archeological dig, Det. Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, must probe deep into the victim's troubled family history. There are chilling similarities between the Devlin murder and the disappearance 20 years before of two children from the same neighborhood who were Ryan's best friends. Only Maddox knows Ryan was involved in the 1984 case. The plot climaxes with a taut interrogation by Maddox of a potential suspect, and the reader is floored by the eventual identity and motives of the killer. A distracting political subplot involves a pending motorway in Knocknaree, but Ryan and Maddox are empathetic and flawed heroes, whose partnership and friendship elevate the narrative beyond a gory tale of murdered children and repressed childhood trauma.
Incredibly beautiful language.
Incredibly beautiful use of language. French describes the natural world it a purely poetic manner, makes it integral character. Her human characters have warmth, humor and heartbreak and we live them all through her words. The is easily the best book I have read in a long time. More than a mystery, this is literature at its finest.
Three times the charm
This is a slo burn of a novel which is more about the psychological outcome for Detective Rob Ryan. His past has significant impact on the current situation in Knockaree. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting; it thought it would be more of a police procedural. Despite the rough entry to this much loved series, I’m willing to continue reading the Dublin Murder Squad.
Wanted to stop reading because it was so slow but also wanted to find out what happened. Nothing happened!