In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1) In the Woods discussion


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Barbara I felt Adam Ryan was a solid character until the moment w/ Maddox - then he turned a little schizophrenic - he kept it together for so long you begin to think the trauma of his past - was dealt with (or at least the lack of memory was dealt with)- only now he is as confused and disorientated as his suspects... was his issue resolved ? did I miss it? who did it? what happened? will there be a sequel?
I am going back to read the last few chapters again..in case I missed something? It was an awesome story..but where is the resolution?


Corey I completely agree. The book went flying when I finished it because so much was up in the air.


Jennifergrady I had to reread the last several pages as well, the jacket of the book seemed to indicate a resolution for Adam, but if there was I missed it -- anyone have any idea what the artifact at the end represented????


Teresa I'm with you. I felt I missed something and had to reread the ending. I kept waiting for some detail to come up to resolve Ryan's mystery to help him move on. Sophie's comment, "she was old enough to know the difference between intriguing and fucked up," resonated with me. I should've know the same thing about the book.


message 5: by Caitlin (new) - added it

Caitlin It was not only the lack of closure regarding Adam's character but also the way the case suspects unraveled that was a bit disappointing. Because of the ending it dims the relevance of Adam's presence in the book.


Heidi Ya, I just ended up confused. I was hoping Adam Ryan would find closure, and myself as well, at the end of the book. But no. Disappointing.


Brandi I could tell the book was well written by the fact that I was so disappointed to not know what happened in 1984. But I've written it off as him being "fucked up" and a self-admitted liar, and he has no use for us, so he's not going to tell us any more. He is telling the entire story in retrospect, but then tries to say that all he has left is one memory of him with Jamie & Peter. We can't trust him - and he's told us not to.


message 8: by Eli (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eli Is it me or did anyone think Ryan was the cause of the disappearance of his friends and he himself is a psychopath?


Jennifergrady Eli, I thought the same thing . . .


Sarah I read an interview on the author's webpage that indicated that she would be writing another book dealing with Ryan's character and seemed to suggest that it would address the unanswered questions from his past. She has written another book, The Likeness (which I have not read yet), but that deals with Cassie's character.

I completely agree though, I was so disappointed that the book didn't finish the story of what happened in 1984 since that, to me, was the more interesting part of the story.


message 11: by Chuckell (new) - added it

Chuckell This main problem with this book, as I see it, is that it sucked. Adam and Cassie's relationship is flat-out absurd--no two cops would ever be friends that way, and if such a friendship were possible, no two adults would ever let it slip away the way they do--and the author seems to have overlooked one important expectation of the mystery reader: that we want to know who fucking did it.

So I wouldn't waste much time thinking about what might have happened "in the woods," nor would I consider reading her new book for one freaking second.


Corey I absolutely think it's Ryan that's crazy.


Heidi I thought it was a waste of my time. I wouldn't have finished it if it wasn't one of my book club selections. I wasn't a fan of her writing style either. I don't think I'll be reading any of other books.


Catherine Wilkins I actually quite liked the book, although I too was bummed that the mystery of what happened in 1984 was left unresolved. I was totally hooked on it and it moved very quickly for me. Clearly the character of Adam was pretty f-ed up as a result of what happened, but I never thought he was the culprit...FYI I read The Likeness also and liked it a lot better.


message 15: by Ann M (last edited Oct 25, 2008 07:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ann M I thought he was going to crack early on, the discrepancies in his voice, mostly. Way too poetic for a detective. Even an Irish one.

I was disappointed not to find out what happened to his childhood friends, but the story got close enough for me -- not to satisfy, but to keep from annoying me, at least.


Nicolette I just finished the book and found the end very disapointing. I'm glad to find I'm not the only one. I know a good book leaves you still thinking of it, but this one did that in a very unsatisfying way. Adam's actions and reactions in the end seemed out of character, and the whole Rosalind thing seemed contrived and lame. I thought that the author wrote beautifully, but in the end, not about anything interesting.


message 17: by Kate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate OF COURSE Ryan went mad, no-one can drink so much, eat and sleep so little and be a bit deranged in the first place and not go bonkers....
I loved the ending as I was seriously worried at one point that it was going to turn out Jamie and Peter had been eaten by a giant, fanged, clawed, flying goat that could scream like a man and then I would have been really annoyed! I thought it was much more realistic they didn't find out what happened, and I kind of hope the mystery is never solved cos I can't see a way it can be solved without seeming like a load of old tosh...
The only thing I didn't get was whether Ryan was meant to be a psychopath himself (I think probably yes) and why his relationships with women were so bizarre.


Brianne The whole reason I got this book was to find out what happened to the three kids....I don't get why that wasn't figured out. Especially when it was obviously in his memory, after the night he went to the woods. It seems she just wants to keep people guessing. I don't know that that is the right way to go for a murder mystery book. This book is being compared to Mystic River. But that story was resolved in the end. As for the annoying parts - it was obvious who killed the girl. Everyone I am sure was like, are these cops stupid? Especially when the assault weapon is mentioned and no one notices that it was that??? I can only guess that the whole plot was done this way to show how really screwed up Ryan was with what happened to him when he was a kid. He wasn't focused on the new case, but his own case from 20 years ago. I don't know if I think he was crazy though. However, the parts where he remembers Peter being a certain way, but his mother says that was him not Peter - something is definitely up with him. And he did lie, like when he went to boarding school he said he had a twin. I am just hoping that she wrote the book this way with the intention of writing a sequel about him. I think the way she portrayed him was as a shitty guy, but there is definitely more to him than that. Oh - I also think there is no way in hell that the station didn't know he was Adam. I would think cops got fingerprinted, and had background checks. That would have come up. I just really hope there is a future book that gives us answers. Aside from that, and assuming she wrote it how she did for a reason, I did actually enjoy the book.


Angela Yep, just finished the book...lots of unanswered questions! The strawberry hair clip? The open case of the 1984 missing kids? What was that thing in the tree during the rape?

I thought it was going into a science fiction territory with that one! She painted Rosalinde as a terrible psychopath, I liked that. I don't like that Cassie and Rob, as close as they were, never had a final moment. No closure.

Uh, this book is like an open wound to me. I WANT CLOSURE!!!


Stevie I liked this book a lot, and I'm okay with the 1984 mystery being ambiguous, but I'm having a hard time believing Rob's actions regarding both Cassie and Rosalind. I know that the author points out, frequently in both the book and in interviews, that Rob has many wonderful qualities but beyond all he is deeply damaged. But I think that Cassie made him better, and I know he recognized that, and I just don't buy that he'd walk away from all of it purely because he wasn't sure what it meant when he slept with her. I also don't buy for a second that he didn't see right through Rosalind, especially with the tracksuit. He has a lot of issues, certainly, but he's a good cop first and foremost.

I've just started "The Likeness" and like it so far.


message 21: by Jess (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jess Where was this page when I started reading the book?!! I just happened upon this page today, and Im bout 100 pages from the end, and am debating on whether or not to finish it! The 1984 mystery is what made me buy the book. The book has pretty much held my attention, but was getting really anxious to find out what happened, and knowing that I wont REALLY bums me out!!!!




message 22: by kiki (new) - rated it 3 stars

kiki I thought the book was very well written, but I, too, need some resolution! The 1984 story was so much more intriguing, and I want to know what the hell happened to Jamie and Peter. I was really worried that she was going to turn it into some supernatural thing when Ryan was tripping in the woods, and I'm glad she didn't take that route. I'd recommend this book to others, but I may warn them that they may not get what they're looking for!


Patricia I liked that the children in the woods story had no resolution. It seemed more real life to me. Think of all the children who go missing every year and their parents never, ever find out what happened to them. And have you ever had complete closure with a friend/lover when the relationship ends? In that aspect, the book seemed more like real life to me. I was left feeling sad, but sometimes life is sad.


message 24: by Nancy (new) - rated it 1 star

Nancy I had seen this book on the shelf of every store I visited for weeks. I was completely intrigued by the back. So I bought it. And I started reading it. I finally finished it this morning and I hated it. There were some things I really liked... for example the character interplay. But I couldn't stand how slowly it seemed to move, and how things were so unresolved. I agree with #23 Patricia's comment that it is more like real life to not have an ending, and while that worked for me with Adam and Cassie, it did not work for me with the disappearance in 1984. I, too, cannot figure out the significance of the artifact at the end. Maybe I'll reread this at some point. After all, I couldn't get in to Fortress of Solitude at first but now it's one of my favorites.


message 25: by Jan (new)

Jan I felt completely ripped off by this book! The lack of resolution in the first murder case is inexcusable. Why bother to read a novel of this type without it? Before I reached the final pages, I was already frustrated by the lack of editing. Two hundred pages could have been excised easily and improved the novel. In fact, if she had removed the hundreds of gratuitous references to smoking and drinking (nevermind the endless descriptions of Cassie), we could have saved ourselves some time. I also thought the characters of Damien and Rosalind were poorly drawn and the murder implausible. I am so sorry I wasted my time reading this!


Sherry I loved reading this book until I got to the end. I thought it was well written, and I liked the characters (until Rob started acting like a psychopath). So I'm thinking that someone who writes so well, must be trying to say something else... Could Rob be a psychopath that flew under Cassie's psycho radar? He told us he lied. Unreliable narrator, as mentioned before? That is the murder weapon at the end of the book. Or am I reading too much into this to justify spending time reading this book that has such an unsatisfying ending?


Becca I really like this book until the end. The story was great; very engaging and quick-paced. I loved the characters, although I started to dislike Ryan towards the end after the whole thing with Cassie. When I finished, I was very disappointed. I thought I had missed something, and went back and looked through the last few pages. I'm not sure if there will be a sequel where the 1984 story will be resolved. If there is, great! Then, I would rate this book as a 5. But, if this is really how it ends, then I almost regret reading it. For me, reading a mystery where you spend the whole book waiting to find out what happens and then not finding out is the most frustrating thing ever! I read it because the idea sounded intriguing, and I wanted to know what happened and how....I couldn't wait to see how the author would explain everything. I just felt cheated at the end. I understand that by ending the way it does, you can take away from it some more complex meaning and understanding about the character and life....but, this is not school, and I wanted to read a story that entertains me and then tells me what happens....not one that leaves me feeling very annoyed.


Filiz I think if I had picked this book up as a character study of a person who has a deep dark secret in his past, I would have enjoyed it even more than I did. I read it as a murder mystery. As such, it had a very unsatisfying ending. As a murder mystery, you can't help but wonder why a simple thing like a relationship between the person who had opportunity and the person who had a motive took so long to discover; how the detectives in the squad couldn't figure out Rob was Adam; and what the heck happened to Jamie and Peter. But read as a character study, it gave a compelling look at the past coming back to haunt someone who is so proud of his ability to put it past him. He is living his life thinking the awful thing that happened when he was 12 has left no lasting effect. Yet when brought back to the scene to investigate a current murder, he starts to unravel. He misses obvious clues, bumbles his way through the investigation, alienates the people who love him. I like the author's voice, I liked the characters, and though disappointed with the ending, found it to be more realistic than everything being all tidily wrapped up.
I gave it 4 stars.


Cammie I just finished this last night and you can add me to the list of people that were just pissed not to have a resolution. I was reading more for the story of what happened to him as a kid not what happened to Katy and it just got on my nerves that we did not find out.


Monica I'm sure the open-endedness was intentional. Think "sequel." Has anyone read The Likeness, which tells Katy's story?






Andrea Ryan went pshyco in the wood (probably caught up to his friends making out). Fliped out killed them. And is lying from the get go. There is definately something fishy with the threesome relationship he held with co-workers that held an eerie nostalgic feel similar to the '80s. My theory is he did it and lied all these years. And the pshyco side of Ryan will not be shown untill half way through "The Likeness" in Cassies eyes.


message 32: by Deanna (new)

Deanna I agree Ryan was clearly not mentally stable enough to take on this case (Which was very sad, I felt horrible for Katy. The poor child was robbed of something she truly deserved...like a bird who had it's wing snipped) and I disliked how he and Cassie left off. There was no real closure, but in real life I suspect there rarely is, so it seems fitting in a way. I also found it odd the police didn't pick up on the fact that Ryan was Adam, it seems like it would be routine to do a backround check, right?
As for the ending, I was left desperately wondering what became of Peter and Jamie. I re-read the book, looking more closely at the small clues we were given (though how accurate they could be, we can't be sure since Ryan admits he's a lair in the begining. But what if he lies even when he tells the truth?) and all I could gather was some connection to a cult or supernatural event involving the wood. As absurd as it sounds, perhaps the children stumbled upon the lingering remains of a cult and were sacrificed, except Ryan, or maybe they were playing in old ruins and Peter and Jamie fell to their death and were never discovered, or as mentioned Ryan went crazy and killed his friends himself, by accident or on purpose, in an area that involved the ruins or a sacred alter. He himself states that people can live with anything, maybe he blocked it all out in order to protect himself...or, as my friend suggested, the most unlikely event being a dark spirit of the wood saw something in the children and killed them/took them away, and Ryan, unable to cope with what happened, blocked it all out? We may never know, all I know is I couldn't sleep because I wanted to know the truth so badly...a good book, I fully intend to read The Likeness, as I liked Cassie.


message 33: by Matt (last edited Oct 04, 2011 04:02AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Smith I read both In the Woods and The Likeness back-to-back in the last month. I found it emotionally draining. And I'm not afraid to admit they are among my favorite books now and Tana French my favorite author.

I know everone wanted a deus ex machina at the end, but that's Tana French's way of telling us that's not how real life is. They solved their immediate murder case, but the likelihood of solving Peter and Jamie's disappearance would be very remote.

As for Rob, he's emotionally still 12 years-old. He's never been able to get past that trauma in his life; hence why he can't sleep and has problems with relationships. Cassie balanced him out, in some ways they had an almost sibling-like relationship; but after they slept together he couldn't handle it. Remember, the day he kissed Jamie is the same day she disappears in the woods. And whereas as Cassie's his best friend, in some ways she's the adult personification of Jamie. No, I don't think Rob is a psychopath; I seriously doubt there's anything to even suggest it (and what would that say about Cassie's character having already experienced the real deal). Rob is seriously traumatized even as an adult and one of his biggest failings is he can't see the most important thing to him right in front of his eyes.

I didn't like the fact that the Rob-Cassie thread wasn't tied up better at the end. Then again, that's Rob's own fault...he caused the problem and only realizes too late how important Cassie is to him. I think he feels she's stronger than him and will understand why he's behaving the way he does. The Likeness helps explain some of the grief Cassie goes through after that case, but I was hoping for more.

I would love to see Rob and Cassie reunited in a future book, maybe even co-narrated, in order to bring some resoltion to these star-crossed characters.


???!!! I guess it's a good way to explain everything. Otherwise I felt completely tricked by Tana French. For me it's like been lead around and around and then left in the fog by the author.


message 35: by Liz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liz I enjoyed In the Woods & The Likeness, but French outdoes herself in Faithful Place. It's become one of my favorite books.

I personally don't like endings that resolve everything, but enjoy wondering about characters/situations.

Tana French's work in progress is Broken Harbour and is Scorcher's story. I would've preferred learning about Steven (I think that's his name--the new detective Frank meets in Faithful Place) but I'll read it anyway. I didn't think much of Frank in The Likeness, but his story is excellent in Faithful Place so I guess there's hope for Scorcher. Steven is so young; maybe his story is coming.


Gavin Schneider I have only read In the Woods. Is the fate of Jamie and Peter revealed in any of the other Dublin Murder Squad books?


Katherine I have read In the Woods and The Likeness. I flew through both but still harbor ill will towards French for not resolving In the Woods. I appreciate that things are not always resolved in life but I do feel that reading is a way we escape real life. I read the jacket of the book and was hooked. I was ready for a creative ending....felt a little slighted when the story of the lost children remained a mystery. Reminded me a little of my early writing days when every story ended with "and then I woke up and it was all a dream!"


Katherine BTW... Gavin... No. Not so far. :(


message 39: by Avani (new) - rated it 1 star

Avani The Likeness was far better, in my opinion.


Katherine I totally agree.


message 41: by Lisa (last edited Aug 28, 2012 07:06PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Hall The story is told from Rob/Adam's perspective and he has hidden the truth of what happened from himself. I also have a problem believing Rob is a psychopath but I do believe that whatever happened was between the three friends. They spent so much time in the wood and we're told that there are multiple old ruin sites in the area. I think they went to one to hide Jaime from going to school and then the two boys got in a fight over Jaime and the site collapsed or some other similar scenario that explains why Adam felt responsible for what happened. The retired detective Cassie went to see told her something she wouldn't tell Rob and I think if it were about anyone but him, she would have. I liked this story because of the ending - I liked revisting the story for clues and putting together my own resolution.


message 42: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Hall Sherry wrote: "I loved reading this book until I got to the end. I thought it was well written, and I liked the characters (until Rob started acting like a psychopath). So I'm thinking that someone who writes s..."

I don't want to think of Rob as a psychopath but every group in this book; the three rapists, the three sisters, the three childhood friends, the three cops working on the new case - you have to wonder if each group doesn't have their own socio or psycho which would just about mean Rob would have to have something wrong with him.


Judith Baller-Fabian This was the first Tana French book I read and of all of them, my least favorite. It kept me reading and I did go out and get the other three and will buy The Secret Place, but it didn't grab me. Of all of them, The Likeness was my favorite and Broken Harbor next. I also find it interesting that a minor character from one is the lead in the next book.


Kelly Hertzig I loved the book. I liked the writing style - poetic, excellent vocabulary, long sentences. I feel that most books today rely on a more simple, straight-forward style, so the more complex style was a treat for me.
I was also disappointed that the mystery of Jamie and Peter was not solved; however, I agree that it contributed to the tone of the book. The themes of innocence lost and the elusiveness of truth were illustrated by the 1984 case. I also think that Ryan is deeply flawed, that his perspective about who to trust and why is compromised by his past and his inability to fully know and trust himself since he cannot remember such a pivotal event in his life.
Someone pointed out that the police department would have known Rob Ryan was really Adam Ryan - I agree. I am bummed I missed that detail.
I found it fascinating to watch Rob destroy his life almost passively.
I highly recommend the book and plan to read the next one.


Judith Baller-Fabian I just loved The Likeness almost felt like I was there in that house.


message 46: by Matt (last edited Sep 17, 2014 08:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Smith Jamie Lynn wrote: "The Likeness is really good..."

Damn right. The Likeness is every bit as good as In the Woods. The story is narrated in in Cassie's voice and we learn just how much the last case affected her, as well as more about the dynamics of Cassie's relationship with Rob. Even if you think you might know The Likeness from the ending of In the Woods, trust me, you don't.


message 47: by Matt (last edited Sep 17, 2014 08:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Smith Kelly wrote: "Someone pointed out that the police department would have known Rob Ryan was really Adam Ryan..."

This particular detail isn't something I'm convinced on, which may be the reason I accepted it at face value. Jamie and Peter's disappearance took place in 1984. In 1984 I was in kindergarten and I remember the local police department came in to fingerprint us and teach us about Stranger Danger. Rob would've been 12 in 1984, so let's assume for the moment that he would've been fingerprinted prior to 1984 (if that practice was being done on children in Ireland at the time).

I'm not convinced that in 2004 that the Dublin police would've had a database of fingerprints from rural Ireland that far back. Nor am I convinced that when Rob became a policeman that anything would necessarily connect back to Adam's (Rob's) disappearance; and even if it did, so what? Rob didn't commit a crime so why would it ever really be on anyone's radar? Hypothetically, would a kidnap victim not be able to become a police officer 20 years later? And would that suddenly be a red flag to someone for any particular reason? Personnel come and go, and in 20 years' time it seems implausible that anyone was keeping tabs on Rob Ryan. This point seemed moot to me and not relevant enough to give it any thought.


Judith Baller-Fabian Broken Harbor is really good, too. Sort of spooky.


Angela I replied on this thread 5 years ago! Just started Broken Harbour, and it's hooked me. I think I will finish this one, and then the new one that just came out, AND then re-read from the beginning.

I love how Tana writes. I almost read it in an Irish accent!


Angela Oh fun- I am in the beginning- but can't put it down, so maybe will catch up to you! I won't put any SPOILERS out there guys-


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