Monday, December 3, 2012
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #1
Author: Tana French
Genre: fiction, mystery, literary
Publisher: Viking (Penguin)
Pub. Date: May 17, 2007 (hardcover); May 27, 2008 (paperback)
I've had In the Woods on my "must-read" list essentially since it came out and everyone raved about how amazingly wonderful it was. I'm glad I was finally motivated to start attacking my "must-read" list (where, ironically, books waste away never being read); and while I did think it was a fantastic read, I was disappointed too. I'll explain why, but I think it stems mostly from the unrealistically high expectations I incurred after reading so many great reviews over the years. Because apparently, I have had this book on my list for five years!!
Quick summary for those who aren't yet in the know: in 1984, three kids in Knocknaree, Ireland, disappear in the woods; two of those children are never found. Adam Robert Ryan is found alone with unexplained injuries but has no memory of what happened. Years later, Adam is Detective Rob Ryan; he still has no memory of the events but is forced to face this wall blocking his memories when he investigates a case in which a 12-year-old girl's body has been found in those same woods. Ryan takes on the case without letting anyone know of his personal connection.
The rest of In the Woods is the investigation of the case by Ryan, combined with the story of Ryan's trying to reach for the lost memories (for the investigation but also for himself), and a look into his close relationship with his work partner, Cassie Maddox. (Can men and women be just friends, especially as close as they are?) French does an amazing job with the story and with the characters. Although there was an investigation going on, the crux of the story seemed to be more about the characters, and I was easily drawn in. The backstory was engaging, as were their daily interactions. As hefty as the book seemed, I couldn't put it down. But I'll admit, part of what kept me reading was because I wanted to find out what all the crazy twists were that I was expecting.... but in the end I felt like it was significantly more a typical mystery than any type of thriller, much less a pyschological thriller. While there was a lot of discussion about psychological factors, which was very interesting, I think of the genre "psychological thriller", which this book is often billed as, as more so books that mess with the readers' minds, where not everything is as it seems. And unless I missed something, I felt this was fairly straightforward. Some complaints from those that have voiced them, is that the author left some questions unanswered in the end. That didn't bother me.. the questions unanswered weren't necessary to me, but I did feel like she was building up to it so, while it didn't bother me, I could see why some people felt they were left hanging.
So, I was definitely a fan and will eventually read more in the series. But it wasn't as crazy as I was expecting it to be.