So, this post would have been written yesterday or the day prior, but I was still wrapping this book up! I will say that, at times, the book felt as long as the page numbers imply, but, overall, French weaves an excellent, edge-of-your-seat mystery in In the Woods.
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.
I decided that I wanted to read this book after glimpsing the synopsis on the back cover of an edition for sale in Target. Since I’m trying to save money (!!), I opted to request this title from my local library and was notified a few days later that it was waiting for me behind the counter. Eagerly, I dove into the story, but it took a little bit for me to feel truly SUCKED into the story and as though I absolutely needed to power through to the end.
The story is told through the narrative of Rob Ryan, a detective who was also once at the center of a case as a child, but has blocked out the memory of what really happened in the woods. The mystery kicks off with Ryan, the adult, heading into the same woods that were the crime scene from his youth to take on a case of another child murder.
Against better judgment, Ryan and his partner, Cassie, keep the fact that Ryan was involved in a potentially linked case from their superiors, and the reader has a front row seat in Ryan’s extreme triumphs in memory and failure to maintain sanity throughout the life of the present-day case that he is tasked with solving.
French succeeds in making each character seem real, complete with fears, secrets, and countless instances of poor judgment… you can’t help but be drawn into caring deeply about some and feeling totally frustrated and disgusted with others. I am also a fan of the fact that everything doesn’t necessarily wrap up nice and clean in the end since, honestly, those types of endings seem to mirror reality more-so than those where everyone gets everything that the want, rainbows abound, and blue birds sing happy songs all around.
I definitely recommend In the Woods to anyone who enjoys mysteries and cop drama. I’ve always been a fan of cop drama and am currently really into AMC’s The Killing. Because of this, I pictured Ryan and Maddox as… you guessed it… Linden and Holder: