Melissa's Reviews > In the Woods

In the Woods by Tana French
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's review
Sep 08, 2012

really liked it
Read in September, 2012

** spoiler alert ** When a murdered girl is found in a small Ireland community two Dublin detectives are assigned to the case. Rob Ryan and Cassie have a unique relationship, similar to siblings’ playful, antagonistic style. It feels very realistic and the dynamic works well. The pair play off the others’ strengths and weaknesses, creating a wonderful balance of trust and support.

The whole story is told from Rob Ryan’s point of view and from the beginning he tells us that as a detective he does two things: he lies and at the same he desperately seeks the truth. Those two things, which at first seem contradictory, make up much the novel’s suspense. How much can his narration be trusted? Early on we learn that Ryan went through an incredibly traumatic event in his childhood and the ripples of it still affect his life. This new murder case brings many of those old hurts to the surface and throws his life into turmoil.

The novel really explores the delicate balance in relationships; those between children and their parents, friends, co-workers, etc. Exploring the breakdown of those bonds is fascinating. The whole book moves quickly and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. I will say that some of the content is dark and so if you're sensitive to that you should be aware of it in advance.


I know the ending, which leaves the old case unsolved is realistic, but I still was hoping to know what happened. Even though I’d heard something along these lines about the book I was still really surprised when I realized we would never know. I was also surprised to find out that the second book in the series is not from the same person’s point of view so the odds of ever having a resolution to that case is unlikely.


Here’s the thing, the book is a mystery but it’s so well-written and engrossing that the who-dun-it part is not the most interesting element. I actually had a pretty good idea who was behind it (definitely not the details though), but that didn’t take anything away from the enjoyment of watching it unfold.

BOTTOM LINE: A really good psychological mystery; the characters’ relationships take precedence over the mystery itself. Don’t expect everything to be tied up with a neat bow. If that bothers you then you might want to skip this one. My unanswered questions actually made me lower my rating for this one just a little bit, but I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series.

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