“The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her.” – Tana French, In The Woods
“In The Woods,” by Tana French is a cross between a psychological thriller and a whodunit. It follows the protagonist, murder detective Rob Ryan, and his partner Cassie Maddox as they investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl in the town of Knocknaree, Dublin. The twist to the story is that twenty years prior, detective Ryan’s two childhood best friends vanished from the same wooded area. Detective Ryan had been with his friends when they disappeared, but the trauma of the event caused him to lose the memory of what had happened. His two friends were never found. Detective Ryan strives to solve the little girl’s murder by exploring possible connections between it and the disappearance of his friends. Though I read a lot of rave reviews about this book, I personally found it to be a bit disappointing.
I felt that the author did a fair job with character development but lacked originality. Detective Rob Ryan certainly had his own unique personality full of trauma and psychological damage. However, I can’t say for certain that the author did a great job writing from the male perspective. His character seemed a bit stereotypical to me. He was noncommittal, only enjoying friendships with women if they didn’t get too deep. He also seemed to be easily drawn in and fooled by physical attraction, which I thought was unusual for a professional murder detective. Ryan’s partner Cassie was also a bit stereotypical. She was a woman on the squad with something to prove, tough on the outside but just as delicate and mushy as any other woman on the inside. Every character in this book seemed to be thoroughly developed but painstakingly textbook. The murder squad chief was gruff and grumpy, just as most police chiefs are depicted in almost ever other crime drama in existence. Even Rosalind Devlin, the mastermind behind the murder, was predictably sly and cunning, coming off as sweet and innocent until her true nature is revealed.
I personally loved the IDEA of this book. I was definitely intrigued by the idea of detective who was witness to the disappearance of his two childhood best friends but was left with no memory of what happened. It was all the more intriguing that he was forced to relive what had happened in his childhood by investigating the case of a murdered 12-year-old girl from the same area, located near an ancient sacrificial alter stone. This book could have been so good. There are so many scenarios that could have played out. With such a promising plot, I just wasn’t happy with the direction the author took it.
As it turns out the two murders have NOTHING to do with each other. Through out the book, detective Ryan has flash backs of memories and struggles to remember what happened to his friends twenty years earlier. What was the point of all of that drama if the cases aren’t even connected? I could forgive this on the grounds that in real life, a detective in this situation would likely go through similar experiences. However, they only end up solving one of the cases! We never get to find out what happened to detective Ryan’s friends, which I found insanely frustrating. It was one of those moments where I wanted to throw the book across the room after I finished reading it. I kept waiting and waiting for the reveal but it never came. Because detective Ryan withheld from his boss that he had a personal interest in the case, he was demoted and forced to step down from his position at the end of the book. His career was basically ruined and he never even got to find out what had happened to his friends. ARGH!
I also wasn’t crazy about the murderers that the author chose for this book. The end of the book made it seem like the mastermind, Rosalind Devlin, had shocked us all. However, I pegged her down as a party in the murder by the time detective Ryan had arranged a meeting between himself, Rosalind, and Jessica (chapter 9). However, I wasn’t able to pin down Damien’s involvement until the end, so at least there was that. The reveal was no major shock to me, though it wasn’t all together uninteresting either.
Overall, I definitely didn’t love this book. However, I didn’t hate it either. I found it a bit dull and hard to get into until halfway through the book. After this point, I had developed an interest in the plot and wanted to keep reading. If you are into crime novels, I feel that it is worth the read. It may not have been my favorite book of all time, but it was interesting enough. As I said before, this book has gotten a lot of really good reviews, so there must be some people out there who feel like it’s worth the hype.
Next Up: “The Paper Magician” (trilogy) by Charlie N. Holmberg 🦄
Have you ever read this book? What did you think of it? Would you like to recommend a book for me to read in the future? I would love to hear from you in the comment section bellow. If you enjoyed this post, please shoot me a like, comment, or follow.
Love Always, AnxiouslyM