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In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1)

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  109,385 ratings  ·  9,611 reviews
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...more
Hardcover, 429 pages
Published May 17th 2007 by Viking Adult (first published January 1st 2007)
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Pat C.
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Kim Fournier Adult. Some teens may find this tough to stay with, and there are adult themes in all French's stories.
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Best Crime & Mystery Books
20th out of 4,434 books — 10,150 voters
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9th out of 604 books — 1,467 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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"What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this - two things: I crave truth. And I lie."

This book is brilliantly cruel - a story of deep and painfully real psychological f*ckery masquerading as a murder mystery. There's nothing "feel good" about it. If you like a book to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy at the end, it's not for you. If you like neat resolutions - it's not for you (and if you already read this book, you know exactly what I'm talking about). If you hate being left with...more
Monique Bos
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Khanh (Kittens, Rainbows, and Sunshine)
Some wounds will never heal, and there will forever be a Rob Ryan-shaped scar in my heart.

Some books are written deliberately to provoke sadness. It's fucking easy to induce someone to tears when the book is about a dying cancer patient with a labrador retriever whose leg has been amputated, with one ear missing. The most effectively emotional books are the ones where you least expect it. The ones that sneak up on you.

There are differing degrees of sadness, the type that makes one curl into a ba...more
Dera Weaver
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
it must be really hard to write convincing mystery novels. you can't have your killer be too obvious or no one will bother reading past the third chapter. but you can't have them be too unexpected, without textual support, or you will be accused of cheating. the super-saturation of police procedurals in all their manifestations: literary and film and teevee, sets the genre up for failure - it just adds up to a steaming bowl of repetition and a dessicated medium. there are about five ways a murde...more
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Jan 26, 2011 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of dark mysteries
Recommended to Tatiana by: Megan
As seen on The Readventurer

In the Woods reminded me a lot of Gillian Flynn's novels (Sharp Objects and Dark Places). All these books are very dark mysteries/psychological thrillers and they all are as much about particular crimes the narrators investigate as they are about the narrators themselves, a disturbed bunch.

Rob Ryan, a detective on the Dublin Murder squad, and his partner Cassie Maddox are assigned to investigate a murder of a pre-teen girl. The thing is, the girl's body is found in the...more
Emily May
Jun 29, 2012 Emily May rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Emily May by: Tatiana, Catie, Megan
Though the isbn is the same as the one pictured, my edition of this book has a much creepier cover and tagline:

Needless to say, I was completely expecting something a bit dark and twisted, a creepy psychological murder mystery with an outcome I never saw coming. And I got that. But I never expected this book to leave me feeling so... sad. And you know why? Because I cared. Ms French carefully builds up a complex personality for each of her characters, complete with a past, a sense of humour and...more
Jan 11, 2014 Samadrita rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who want to get their hearts broken but in the best way possible
Recommended to Samadrita by: Jill
It's been a while since I have read a book that has left me so utterly devastated, a book entailing such a profound emotional investment that having finished it I feel a gaping emptiness within, a sense of loss. It feels like my heart has been simultaneously crushed into pulp under the weight of the tragedies that descend on the lives of a handful of characters and blown to smithereens. And I would never be able to pick up the pieces and glue them back together into a throbbing whole again.

I rea...more

Three-and-a-half stars

Years ago, one of my father’s clients -- a man from the Emerald Isle named Cosgrove -- dropped by our place and, during the evening, got an insatiable hankering for the hard stuff. So my mother (who was essentially a teetotaler) found a bottle of small-batch scotch someone had given her as a gift and poured him four fingers’ worth. My father began to rib him about his prodigious thirst, but Cosgrove looked at him over his highball with dea...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rating: 3.75 (?!) Stars

In the Woods is one of those books that you finish feeling bereft – bereft of answers, bereft of joy, bereft of happiness. Suddenly, grief and sorrow and despair are your companions as this is a novel that leaves you feeling so, so sad and heartbroken. It’s a story that will shock you to your very core, rattle your nerves, and make you re-think everything you ever thought was true. It is, in every sense of the term, a psychological thriller like no other.

When Katy Devlin...more
Carol. [All cynic, all the time]
Nov 13, 2012 Carol. [All cynic, all the time] rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes mysteries, psychological analysis, lovely word-smithing
Shelves: mystery, male-lead
I started this series out of chronological order, which only increased my appreciation for French. By some odd chance, I happened upon a new copy of her second book, The Likeness, in the library just waiting to be checked out, while In the Woods had a wait list of at least 100 people. I followed with Faithful Place, immersed myself in Ireland of forty years ago and promptly forgot to get on the waiting list for Woods. Nataliya's lovely review reminded me what I was missing (here: http://www.good...more
I've just finished reading through some reviews on for this book. It had been awhile since I read Karen's review of the book, and I had forgotten what she said about it, but I was surprised that this book inspired rage in her. Especially because she forced this book on to me, really. She pretty much shoved this book into my hands when we were at the library telling me to read this.

I might be a bit more forgiving about some of the weaker elements of the book. Normally a book like this I would re...more
I am not sure why it took me so long to read this book. Since first starting IN THE WOODS in March, I picked it up and stopped reading it two or three times, until finally last week I started over from the beginning and finished it in less than a week. I do that a lot, but I am much more aware that I do it now that I am on Goodreads. I always feel like once I have marked a book down as "currently reading" I am doing some disservice by not finishing, or that it tends to make me look flighty. I am...more
Aug 21, 2012 Reynje rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Reynje by: Catie
”And then, too, I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn't find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself.”
While Tana French’s debut is full of equally powerful and beautiful writing, I chose this quote for two reasons. Firstly, because it spoke to me in a very direct manner as an idea I can relate to all too well. And secondly because it speaks to French’s mastery of chara...more

Huh? Seriously?
That’s all you’ve got? No freaking
way. Life is too short.

This book was okay
This book did not change my life
The font is too small

It did supply me
with a dysfunctional man
with a haunted past

Sometimes, when you are
close to someone, you miss things

Yes, she said...he said.

Now, I have to read
the damn sequel, (life is short)
Do you want marvels?
I kept going back and forth between being drawn in by this book and getting bored with it and wanting to put it down. The idea of a detective having to deal with a case that hits home personally is kind of done to death, but I heard the author interviewed on the radio and thought this book might be interesting. She said she planned to write a series with the same characters, but there would be a different lead character in each one. That seemed like a good idea, since series novels can get repet...more
Stacia (the 2010 club)
It took me a lot of thought and some discussion with a friend before I got to the point of understanding as to why people gave this book 5 stars. I think I sort of get it now. The entire last section of In the Woods rolled through as a slightly unexpected mind twist, unsettling the foundation of the story, and leaving the reader in a bit of a haze. There is definitely some talent in writing shown through the manipulation of reader emotion.

That said, it's not that I need books to be happy or even...more
Despite not finishing this book, I could not reconcile what I had read with the blurbs on the back cover. It was almost as though the review authors and I were reading entirely different books.

True, the author is prosaic, but that does not automatically translate into "beautiful and brilliantly evocative prose". I found her prose to be long-winded, and used exclusively for atmospheric descriptions, rather than to further the plot.

Secondly, the blurbs mentioned vivid characters. Indeed, the autho...more
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This nightmare of a "novel" made me consider bringing back book burning... if it wasn't so unfashionable.

In the Woods. The title alone suggests mystery, atmosphere, a touch of the sinister. The book delivers on all three counts and far more. In the Woods grapples with two mysteries: a current murder case and a cold case intimately connected to one of the lead detectives working on the current case. These two cases may or may not be related. Conversationally narrated by this lead detective, the book also is as much a traditional murder mystery as it...more
I spent nearly the entire weekend chewing on this book. It was impossible to put down, even with a throbbing head and shoulders sore from rigidity and blurry vision. I can't believe that I let this one languish on my list for almost a year. A follow-up novel, The Likeness, will be released next month. I might buy a hardcover copy of that one to avoid the library wait, and I never do that. Well, not often, anyway.

Synopsis: Three children disappear in the woods of a small Irish town in the 1980s....more
I desperately need to talk about this book because since the second I put it down, I haven’t been able to think of anything else.

When I was younger, Nancy Drew was my best friend and biggest hero. I gobbled down her mysteries like they were candy, took solace in her intricate relationships and practically-impossible ability to come up with an answer, idolized the particular and intent way she did everything in her life. Maybe it was my obsession with her that has made me more susceptible to fig...more
Mar 10, 2009 Molly rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Molly by: fleurfisherwordpress - TT
Eh. That's pretty much how I feel about this book. From the opening pages the author's writing style just didn't grab me and that was a problem since the book went on and on and on like that.

The narrator, Rob (aka Adam) Ryan, is a detective in Ireland working on a murder case that just so happens to have taken place in his childhood home town. The story follows his life during this particular case and flashes back to his childhood when he and his 2 best friends went missing in the woods, with hi...more

this was one of those books that I LOVED reading while I was reading it, but every time I put it down I didn't feel a huge compulsion to rush back to it.

I loved the prose which was occasionally literary (love seeing literary in crime fic)

I loved the narration which had a sense of humour that appealed to me.

Characters were fab and interesting and the setting was brilliantly done ~ Ireland (one of my fave aspects)

I was also intrigued about the whole murder investigation and the past disappearan...more
It's been two hours since I finished reading. I'm disoriented and emotionally drained, and turns out, home alone on a Sunday. I think my parents told me they were going somewhere but I honestly cannot remember where that somewhere is; I was just that deeply obsessed with reading this book.

In The Woods is too layered to be labelled as a crime-thriller or a mystery. It is not just a guessing-game of who did what to whom. It is an exploration of what this guessing-game does to the people involved,...more

Well , I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I would be. I have read a lot of good reviews about In the woods , from the blurb I knew that it was a brilliant , atmospheric and surprising to the end bla bla bla . Nope . I can't say that novel was badly written or unbelievable . I’m only saying that it was a promising though not entirely convincing , and from some moment , just predictable piece of writing.

A multilayered psychological thriller, the title alone suggests something unsettling and omin...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
The ending (needless to say, contains spoilers) 185 1601 Oct 09, 2014 02:01PM  
Not Feeling the Love 47 352 Oct 02, 2014 07:24AM  
Goodreads Choice ...: Tana French, Dublin Murder Squad Buddy Read (Ongoing) 262 325 Oct 01, 2014 02:53PM  
General Book Discussion and Theories 18 100 Sep 21, 2014 05:04PM  
Thoughts on Adam (for those who have read this book -- otherwise SPOILER) 10 217 Sep 21, 2014 04:56PM  
Any chance of a happier outcome in a future sequel? 2 26 Sep 18, 2014 12:52PM  
Did I miss something? 51 1005 Sep 17, 2014 03:41PM  
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Tana French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi, and has lived in Dublin since 1990. She trained as a professional actress at Trinity College, Dublin, and has worked in theater, film and voice-over.
More about Tana French...
The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, #2) Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #3) Broken Harbour (Dublin Murder Squad, #4) The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #5) Littekenweefsel

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“I am not good at noticing when I'm happy, except in retrospect.” 172 likes
“I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn't find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself.” 150 likes
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