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In the Woods

(Dublin Murder Squad #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  349,010 ratings  ·  23,684 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. He is gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous ...more
Paperback, 429 pages
Published May 27th 2008 by Penguin Books (first published May 17th 2007)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  349,010 ratings  ·  23,684 reviews

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Dec 30, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
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
Emily May
Jun 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  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 would have seen 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
(A-) 81% | Very Good
Notes: Great characters and writing, but ends so bitter and depressing. (view spoiler)
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nataliya by: Catie
"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
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Seriously, man, I wanted to rate this book higher than two stars. I almost went with three, but I just can't do it. This book felt like it ran this long, exhausting marathon only to collapse into a heap, huffing and puffing just before it crossed the three-star line. Right now it's laying there lifelessly. It might get up slowly and crawl across that line later, but I doubt it.

The protagonist of this book really, really annoyed me. It felt like a parody of one of those old black-and-white movies
Elle (ellexamines)
I.... have no fucking clue how I felt about this book. Because, hey, beginning? Awesome. Ending? Trash heap that ruined the book for me.

Let’s talk.

The first half of this book was - honestly - excellent. You can read a thousand reviews talking about it, so I’ll keep it short. The writing is honestly stunning, much better - in my opinion - than Gillian Flynn or Paula Hawkins’ styles. I had no clue where the mystery was going. And the lead characters, Rob Ryan and his partner / best friend Cas
Rick Riordan
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow, Tana French can write. I appreciate a well-constructed mystery, and this is certainly one, but it is also one of those genre-transcending books that proves that the whole idea of genre fiction is an artificial construct. My ‘Rick Riordan Presents’ imprint buddies J.C. Cervantes, Rebecca Roanhorse and Rosh Chokshi all recommended this book, and as usual they did not steer me wrong. I was warned that I would want to throw the book across the room when I finished, so I was prepared for anger i ...more
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is amazing... really truly excellent. I took a risk at the UTEP library last week, just picking this out at random... & what true serendipity it was! This particular week was rife with parties & late nights (daytime reserved for sleep) and all throughout "In the Woods" was a faithful companion... it was a pleasure to get back into it, for it's a dense & meticulous, brilliant piece of literature. It kicks "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"'s ass... people, read this instead!

You feel so much
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
After much waiting and some significant peer pressure, I have finally decided to take the plunge into the world of Tana French and the Dublin Murder Squad. In the summer of 1984, three children went missing in the woods on the outskirts of Dublin. When authorities arrived, they found one boy, Adam 'Rob' Ryan, delirious and unsure what had happened to him. The other two were presumed dead, their bodies never found. Flashing forward two decades, Ryan has recreated himself, using his middle name, a ...more
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
Dera Weaver
Jul 28, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very, very good.

Tana French’s 2007 introduction to her Dublin Murder Squad series eschews “normal” detective prose for a more literary and artistic approach. Hers is not the terse and journalistic objectivism of hard-boiled literature, nor the overly technical and post-modernistic dialect of more recent crime writing. French’s language is rich and erudite, blending the best of many genre’s into a style that is fresh, unique and intoxicating.

Told from a first person perspective of Dublin homicide
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
this is not an easy book to recommend because its hard to put this kind of story in a box.

yes, there are mystery/thriller aspects but i wouldnt recommend this to casual fans of the mystery/thriller genre because this is much more character driven. the writing is also very meticulous, lengthy, and slow paced - these things are not really conducive for wide-reaching mysteries/thrillers.

but this is an excellent psychological study that is so expertly told. the nuances of the narrative help weave a
Mar 06, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I didn't damn like it, but I owned it and it's on one of my badge challenges so I read it. Trying to get as much read before chemo in May. Trying to get rid of things or get them on the shelves.

And no, I'm not writing a big review. I'm over that unless it's a re read. Or I will review later. You guys can read some of the popular book bumpers with the great reviews and a million likes. But take some time to read the non book bumpers that have a few likes with amazing reviews. Pisses me off so ma
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is tricksy.

Rob Ryan is a veteran homicide detective with the Dublin police along with his best friend and partner, Cassie Maddox, and the two start working a case involving a young girl found murdered at the site of an archaeological dig. Sounds like it could be the cold open of an episode of CSI: Ireland, right?

Ah, but that’s only part of the story. Rob is actually from the area where the girl is found, and 22 years before he and two friends went to play in the nearby woods and somet
It was a so-so mystery . . .

Kind of repetitive . . .

A little drawn out . . .

But at least it was long!
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
"Not any more. In ways too dark and crucial to be called metaphorical, I never left that wood."

I know that I ought to gather my thoughts to organize them or whatever I usually do before writing a review, especially when the last page let me shell-shocked as In the Woods did. But I can't. I'm leaving tomorrow and I'm not one for writing reviews weeks after having read the damn book. I'm actually in awe of people who manage to do just that. I think that it says something about me : in
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love it most of all on your bog-standard Irish days, when wind blows rain-spatter in your face and everything blurs into elusive, Puritan half-tones: gray-white clouds, gray-green sea off on the horizon, great sweep of bleached-fawn sand edged with a scatter of broken shells, wide abstract curves of dull silver where the tide is coming in unevenly.

It’s slow paced with focus more on characters than plot. I love the way she reveals people in small groups. Those glances and slight changes t
Dan Schwent
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
When a twelve year old girl is found murdered at an archaeological dig, Detective Ryan and Maddox are on the case. But what does this case have to do with a similar case twenty years earlier, a case that saw an adolescent Ryan as the only survivor?

As a veteran of detective fiction, riddles, and brain teasers, I'm a big fan of mysteries that keep me guessing. In the Woods was one of those sorts of mysteries.

In the Woods is the story of two detectives looking for answers, both on the case they're
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
A very well-constructed and impressive debut novel. I had a bittersweet moment near the end when I realized that my theory from near the start of the book was correct; happy to be right, but also a bit bummed that I had figured it out. It wasn't much of a twist for me, but I honestly don't know how I solved it so early on. Don't let that keep you from reading this book. There were still quite a few surprising moments that didn't deal directly with the mystery, and those were incredibly satisfyin ...more
Joe Valdez
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
I've heard about readers who become so absorbed in a good book that they stay up late to finish them, or talk to the characters, or turn the pages hoping that something bad doesn't happen to them. I rarely if ever have reading experiences that primal; I'm usually analyzing the character development, narrative, even the margins and the design of the book, all from a safe remove, sort of like a naturalist perched in a camouflaged blind, studying.

In the Woods, Tana French's debut novel which launch
Now this is my kind of book. This is the best book I have read in a very long time! In the Woods has been languishing on my list forever, probably because it has mixed reviews. I am thankful I finally gave it a shot.

Tana French writes beautifully, but in a way that does not hinder the flow of the story. The protagonist, young Irish cop Rob Ryan, tells the story in retrospect. This is done subtly with real-time Rob interjecting only sporadically until the end when he directly delivers the epilog

A cover for Lithuanian edition. Creepy, IKR! 😱

I must thank two of my GR friends, Ginger and Michael, for turning my attention to this peculiar book! Thanks, guys 😉💜

Interesting plot with mysteries and stuff.

The story started off very well, with funny bits, conversations and I was hooked in from the very beginning. The first person narrative really helped and I liked following Rob Ryan in his investigation, he made me a partner and I love it in my detective reads. The grim and real police wor
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
“What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this—two things: I crave truth. And I lie.”

Adam Ryan was the surviving member of a trio of Irish children lost in the woods a generation ago. There’s been no sign of the other two all these years. He was found injured with someone else’s blood in his shoes, and to this day he can’t remember what happened, other than a feeling of terror.

His family moved from Dublin to England, where he acquired a polished English accent and adopted his mi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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The ending (needless to say, contains spoilers) 246 7648 Sep 08, 2021 07:20PM  
Murdery Mystery where teens get mysteriously invited to mansion 1 2 Aug 08, 2021 08:42PM  
Readers Unbound: In The Woods 29 13 Jun 12, 2021 08:02PM  
Adam Ryan lies - My theory: What happened to Jamie and Peter? 34 3192 Apr 27, 2021 01:56AM  
Authors like Tana French? 3 15 Mar 11, 2021 12:33PM  

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Tana French is the New York Times bestselling author of In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place, The Trespasser and The Witch Elm. Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry Awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.

Other books in the series

Dublin Murder Squad (6 books)
  • The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, #2)
  • Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #3)
  • Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad, #4)
  • The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #5)
  • The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad, #6)

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