When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood. He had no memory of what had happened.
Twenty years on, Rob Ryan - the child who came back - is a detective in the Dublin police force. He's changed his name. No one knows about his past. Then a little girl's body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. Knowing that he would be thrown off the case if his past were revealed, Rob takes a fateful decision to keep quiet but hope that he might also solve the twenty-year-old mystery of the woods.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Tana French’s Edgar-winning thriller kicks off her ever-popular Dublin Murder Squad series. Outside a sleepy Irish village, 12-year-old Katy Devlin is found murdered at an archeological dig—the same location where, 20 years before, two children disappeared and a third was assaulted. That third child, Rob Ryan, is now the lead detective on Katy’s case, which pulls him unwillingly into his own traumatic past. French introduces us to several fascinating characters, including Ryan’s partner Cassie Maddox, who must prove her worth to her grizzled colleagues. In the Woods builds toward an emotional climax we definitely didn’t see coming.
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.
After the Witch Elm this is Tana French’s most gripping and atmospheric work.
Great read and string characters
Was surprised to see that this series made it to the screen... and at the same time not surprised.
After this first novel, I devoured every book Tana French had written up to that point... I believe there were four.
Easy to read, clever characters. Not too gritty like some murder mystery authors and I appreciated that.