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


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Not Feeling the Love

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message 1: by Liz (new) - rated it 1 star

Liz Was I the only person who aggressively hated this book? I thought that the killer and the manipulations were interesting and well done, but the narrator - I found him to be a despicable, broken human being. I hated the ending, and I hated that the original mystery wasn't solved!

Honestly, I'd just like to know if anyone else felt the same way!


message 2: by Matt (last edited Feb 20, 2012 06:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Smith Just the opposite. In the Woods, and its follow-up, The Likeness, are my two most favorite books ever. I think most agree that Rob's actions after his night with Cassie were really bad. And yes he is a broken man. But then again, he gives the reader that information up front; he tells us in the beginning he both craves the truth and he lies. His story is complex and you get the sense of just how badly messed up that childhood event made him. I too had a visceral reaction to the ending -- I wanted the original mystery resovled! -- but that's Tana French giving us a dose of reality; we don't always get a deus ex machina, everything nicely wrapped up in the end. Much like how Rob is still a mess.


Renee I agree with Matt. I found Rob not despicable, but flawed, and yes, by the end, broken. But, his narration, looking back on his actions (and the case,) humanized him and made him more of a tragic figure, than anything else. I was wrecked by the time I finished the book, and book 2 in the series was just as compelling. I'm actually really excited, because I just got book 3 from the library. It's such an original series, and I love how the narrator shifts to a new character with each book.

You actually might enjoy book 2 since Rob isn't the narrator, Cassie is. :-)


Cari Liz wrote: "Was I the only person who aggressively hated this book? I thought that the killer and the manipulations were interesting and well done, but the narrator - I found him to be a despicable, broken hum..."

I totally agree with you, could not believe the ending did not give me an answer to the original mystery. Very disappointing!


Lisa I agree with Matt and Renee. Rob was tragic because a tragic thing happened to him. Part of the book's message (for lack of a better word) was that events of that magnitude, that force, break... people, communities, families. A more subtle tragic side story poignant for showing Rob wasn't alone in being so broken, was the mother who couldn't bear, even after decades, to change her daughter's room. All her cloths on the bed still.

He was broken, but does being broken make make people despicable? Have some empathy! Look around and you'll see the world is chock full of broken people hurting others. Except for walking out on Cassie after they'd been together (which I hate to point out, is a not uncommon thing to happen!) I actually thought he was endearingly honest. I think only an honest man can call himself a liar! And part of the tragedy of Rob was that he was so aware of his brokenness, the hurt and the mess he caused, wrecking the best thing in his life, his partnership with Cassie. A truly despicable person would have taken the narcissist path and blamed everyone and felt nothing.


Cindy Jackson The first time I read this, I was so angry with Rob and the fact that the original mystery wasn't solved. But then the more I thought about it, the more I realized how well it was written, and how realistic the characters were, and I think the unsolved crime lends to that authenticity. The second book is told from Cassie's point of view (completely different case), and is maybe an even better story. Having read the third book, I have a feeling the author will eventually make her way back to Rob and what happened to him as a child.


message 7: by Matt (last edited Feb 21, 2012 01:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Smith Good point Cindy. The Likeness reveals to us that Operation Vestal wasn't just difficult for Rob, but extremely so for Cassie, too. And I agree, The Likeness is just as good as In the Woods. I've been saying this for some time, and I have absolutely no idea how Tana French could ever make it happen, but I think it's time to come full circle (after Broker Harbour) back and Rob and Cassie; I'd love to see a co-narrated story.


Lisa I don't know if there's a Faithful Place thread, so I'll put this comment here since we keep bringing up French's other books. A fun little aside: if you want to see a movie where they talk exactly as they do in Faithful Place, same expressions, same accents, see the old (from the early 90s? Late 90s?) film The Snapper. It's a good fun, funny, well-done, heartwarming film with wonderful acting. Above and beyond having great Irish speech, that is!


Elizabeth R I can sort of grasp how people hate Rob, but I loved his character, in spite of his arseness after the fact. It was so clear that he was terrified, though, that it made me somewhat sympathetic. In a separate story, I DO NOT think that being broken/damaged is an excuse for treating people badly. It helps explain one's actions, but is no excuse. Empathy, yes, sympathy, yes, but carte blanche...no. Everyone should be held responsible for their actions, with loving understanding. Cassie, bless her, tried, but Rob's fear held him prisoner until his love (romantic or not; it doesn't really matter in this instance) for her pulled him through his own fear to want to support her as he listened to her be ripped apart by Rosalind, though by then it was too late for Cassie to trust him again without more explanation. Tragedy of errors, the end of their friendship. In one of the other threads, someone posted a comment from Tana French that she has thought about a possible reunion between Rob and Cassie and how, realistically, that would look, if you care to go look. :)


message 10: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa It's interesting, but I never hated Rob, maybe because I appreciate self honesty more than almost anything else, and he starts out, really, with a confession. We all mess up in life. He messed up big time. But I see him as so profoundly wronged by the events that damaged him - and what wrong is worse than a violent wrong done to a child - that I saw his story and his actions like a tragic unwinding of forces and events growing out of that first wrong.

A Rob-Cassie reunion in Tana French's capable hands would be amazing.


Melinda I liked In The Woods, but I found that French's books get better each time. The Likeness is even better, Faithful Place is amazing, and I can't wait to read Broken Harbor.
That said, I didn't hate Rob, I can actually see why he acted the way he did based on his past. I liked that French didn't shy away from how Rob's past effected almost every aspect of his adult life, because that's what happens in reality.


Robert J I liked the book allot ..but the end was a let down. I also didn't like that the Author had Rob and Cassie sleep with eachother. It seemed unnessery to the story. and instead of adding to the book it just bugged me.

I will pick up the next book one of these days.


Jennifer Smith I loved In The Woods but I was disappointed in the ending. I expected a great revelation...


James Hankins I have read all of French's published novels and I agree with many of these comments, both positive and negative. But I find myself reading these particular books in large part because -- plotting and character aside -- I really like French's prose style. To my own reader's eye, she has a wonderful way with words and imagery that I simply enjoy reading, a style not necessarily common in the genre in which she writes. So, for me, it's well worth reading her books (though I can certainly see why that might not be enough for everybody! In fact, I make an exception for her, because typically I need to really love the plot and character execution).


Annette Liz wrote: "Was I the only person who aggressively hated this book? I thought that the killer and the manipulations were interesting and well done, but the narrator - I found him to be a despicable, broken hum..."

Liz wrote: "Was I the only person who aggressively hated this book? I thought that the killer and the manipulations were interesting and well done, but the narrator - I found him to be a despicable, broken hum..."

I too agree with you. I find the premise and plot very interesting but the story doesn't follow through with the same level of intensity. I did stop reading her books.


Cathie I enjoyed In the Woods a lot but like most of you was disappointed that the original mystery wasn't solved. I didn't hate Rob but didn't really like him either. I also had a hard time getting into the book because of the author's writing style. The more I read of it tho, the more I enjoyed it. I am reading The Likeness currently & find myself enjoying it more than the first one.


Elizabeth R James: YES!


message 18: by Tash (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tash Dahling I must admit, I found Into the Woods disappointing. However her second novel was wonderful and reminded me very much of Donna Tartt's "A Secret History." Delish.


message 19: by Jen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jen Glad I saw this thread. I was left a bit cold at the end of this, and didn't feel connected to the characters. But I really enjoyed the writing. I'll definitely read the sequel after reading the comments here.


Laurie Glad I found this because I was afraid I was the only one who was disappointed with this book! I was all ready to get lost in this book and believe me I did get lost but not in the way I wanted. The story was a big downer for me but since it was my first novel by her I thought I wouldn't judge her by the one book so I'm now reading Broken Harbor and so far it's slow going too.


message 21: by Katy (new) - rated it 1 star

Katy I didn't even finish this book, I disliked it so much. I gave it 100 pages and still found myself making excuses to finish other books first. I almost never leave a book unfinished, so this was a big deal for me.


Bookerkc Extremely annoying ending!


Bookerkc I won't read the other books. I don't like being held hostage by an author. If it's a series tell me that up front. I felt it was too manipulative by the author.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Bookerkc wrote: "I won't read the other books. I don't like being held hostage by an author. If it's a series tell me that up front. I felt it was too manipulative by the author."

I haven't read the other books, but I've heard many say they liked the second and third books better. I'm currently trying to get my hands on a copy of Broken Harbor for a book club. I've heard it's really, really good.


Laurie Just finished reading Broken Harbor and I didn't find it all that good but we all have our own opinions. It's 533 pages but I found it more about the detective than murder. I've only read 2 of her books but don't think I'll be reading anymore. Good luck Shannon and hope you like it.


Crimson Worthen- I agree about the book not solving the original mystery. Loved the book until I finished it with unanswered questions. Looked around thinking there would be another one continuing the story, but NO! After that I rated it pretty low. You cant keep a reader hanging all through the book than not give the answers.


Amanda i thought the mystery was quite well done, but i kinda hate this kind of sad ending where the guy doesn't get the girl. it sucks


Joanne A tiresome tale.


Candy Sparks I had to read this book for the book club I was in and I hated it. I didn't like how feminie the guy was in the book. He had a ONE NIGHT STAND and couldn't look his co-worker in the eye the next day. Sounded like a guy to me. Dude brush it off. I didn't really care for the mystery either. I don't plan on reading her second book. Just my opinion and I enjoyed reading all the comments and I agree with Joanne with this being a tiresome tale!


Kelly I can't remember the last book I hated as much. I actually forced myself to finish it. I am more upset because the book started well and had potential but really stalled half way - it is like the author lost her vision. And Seriously did readers actually not realize Rosalind was the psycho behind it early on? I do not understand what all the fuss is about......


message 31: by Jen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jen What bothered me the most is I knew who did it at least halfway into the book. I keep stopping myself from reading the others because it really bothers me when it's easy for me to determine who did it. Even if I originally liked it, it turns me off.


Kathleen I am angry that I wasted my time forcing myself to finish it. The only reason I did was to find out what happened to the original missing children. And then the author leaves that part completely out - I was furious! I am not brave enough to tackle another by this author.


Molly AMEN. I'm so glad I'm not the only person who was waiting to solve the original mystery of his two friends missing. Why bring it up if it's not going to go anywhere? It was repeatedly beaten and drone into my mind and then when I finished the book I was like, "Well...What happened to the kids!?"


Woolie Matthews Wow... I rather enjoyed the not figuring it all out. So many writers 'giveaway' the storyline in attempt to bring the reader to the story rather than allow the reader to get there on their own. The simple realities in life are that life is messy and unpredictable and we sometimes don't get it all handed to us on a silver platter. And I for one am ok with that.
I agree that Tana has catved out a niche for herself in mystery writing particularly due to her style of prose, and its refreshing. I've enjoyed her broken and flawed characters (can't believe i missed The Likeness). Look forward to reading more from her, she is becoming a fast favorite.


Leslie Jem In a word, no. I thought it was dreadful.


Nisha Vinod In fact, In the Woods is one of my favorite mysteries ever. Its a very finely written book and the story line had a magnetic pull to it. Long after reading the book, you will be again and again drawn back to the story, the characters, again and again, you will wonder as to what might have gone wrong that fatal day to the kids. the protagonist is a real messed up person. When he lost Cassie forever, I felt like slapping the idiot and yelling at him for what he has done.
Yes,I too was a hurt (not disappointed) with the mystery not being revealed. But then I am perfectly ok with it.Infact, I believe, thats the beauty of the book. Why do we need everything to be explained, sorted out, all questions solved? Some questions in life will always remain unanswered. SO be it.


Bookerkc Nisha wrote: Some questions in life will always remain unanswered. SO be it.

That's true in life but not in a two-bit mystery novel. Face it, this is not a great work of literature meant to shed light on the human condition. It's an engaging little mystery that should have been solved! IMO.



message 38: by Matt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Smith @Bookerkc wrote:
"...not in a two-bit mystery novel. Face it, this is not a great work of literature..."
That's a bit of a perplexing comment from someone who gave it a 3-star rating. Three stars = "I liked it". And I couldn't disagree more with those comments.


Bookerkc Matt wrote: "@Bookerkc wrote:
"...not in a two-bit mystery novel. Face it, this is not a great work of literature..."
That's a bit of a perplexing comment from someone who gave it a 3-star rating. Three stars..."


I gave it 3-stars because I did like it. I like two-bit mysteries! I like to read them in between great works of literature (read: books that take way more concentration than a mystery takes for me.) I also said it was an engaging little mystery.


Kaitlin As I described to a close friend, it's a decent read, but one I will put on my shelf and forget about. I didn't necessarily hate the ending, because it ended as much as life does--without closure. It seemed a bit hurried. Throughout the novel, however, I was listlessly annoyed with the meanderings of the pointless conversation--ramblings-- about the case. This book could have been completed in about 100 less pages...the killer was easy to figure out, the narrator was a pathetic alcoholic, Cassie and Sam? Really? And it seemed like such a psychological thriller, and was just one too many erectile dysfunctions short of anything exciting. When people read, they don't want boring conversations and to be introduced to an awesome plot such as the mystery behind the disappeared kids all for nothing. All in all, it was meh. The whole book was just a shoulder shrug and a changed subject.


Brian Howard Very well written; very unsatisfying! Don't know if I'll read another of her books or not. Lots of others on my list.


message 42: by Mike (last edited Oct 02, 2013 09:39AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Mike Page I wrote some of this in my review, but had to put it down here after reading through this post since I have a hard time understanding why the book would be liked by anyone. (I dont mean to insult anyone; I just do not get what is appealing about it, so I am seeking to understand what people find interesting about it.)

I really liked how it was written. The prose is great. Subtle movements described, I loved the interviews. The pacing was really really slow, but part of that might be because of the depth of the descriptions so I could work with it. I think most everyone agrees with the quality of the writing on this site anyway.

My biggest fault with the book isn’t necessarily that it wasn’t resolved, but that I felt duped by the dust jacket. It offered the ’84 mystery as the focus, and then left that unresolved. And the reviews on the back were way off. It can be an interesting story, potentially, but it’s not some kind of cliff hanger or seedy underworld that is delved into. It’s a slow, normal, vanilla investigation.

I hate Rob. He's a completely unlikeable character and I do not understand why he does what he does and I think it is French’s biggest mistake in the story. His motivations are left undealt with. He lies and we do not know why – to his parents, his best friend, bosses, everyone. I could see if he was working out the whole lying thing in a maturity process, but as the story winds down, he’s left unchanged or actually more incompetent with no character growth. He goes back to not remembering the ’84 issue, work is work but without the job he wanted, no close relationships, etc. I wanted the dynamic of the story to work something out in him that was revelatory and growth inducing, not just stick us back where we started only with more pain for him and others. Frankly, he just comes off and immature and selfish. His night in the woods seemed like it was going in that direction, I loved that part. He has the courage to go spend the night, goes through with it, but then he bails. Then doubles the cowardice by wrecking his relationship with his partner later that night in some weird obtuse selfish "comfort-me" reaction.

He tries to win your sympathy, but it seems everyone but him and the dope who did it were not really taken in by Rosalind. Even I kept waiting to find out what was wrong with her knowing full well all was not what it seemed. And then strangely, he tries to accuse the reader of falling for it. What about those of us who didn't?

And this next point is subtle, but I really did feel like I was reading a story about a man written by a woman. It's nothing explicit, but there is a feel to the narrators voice that is not masculine-ish enough. It doesn't wreck the story, but it kept bothering me, like a noise in the background that you don't really notice until you go somewhere quiet.

That said, I wanted the ending of the ’84 mystery. The story is hollow without it. Supernatural, psychopathic killer, natural disaster, whatever, it was really frustrating. I understand that would be personal preference, but stories without (proper) endings are hard to enjoy.


message 43: by Rhian (new) - rated it 1 star

Rhian 25 books i've read this year and this is the worst by far will not read another in the series


message 44: by Matt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Smith @Rhian said, "this is the worst by far..."

NOOOOOooooo...


message 45: by Matt (new) - rated it 5 stars

Matt Smith @Rhian: you might want to give The Likeness a read. You definitely see/experience things differently from Cassie's perspective looking back on what happened with that case.

Even though these books are all tagged as the "Dublin Murder Squad" series tag, each book is a standalone story focusing on different characters.


message 46: by Rhian (new) - rated it 1 star

Rhian i cant see me reading another i've got loads of books waiting to be read i'd rather get into them


message 47: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim Hartsfield This book was pretty horrible.


message 48: by S.j. (new) - rated it 4 stars

S.j. Thompson I agree 100%. i found the main character so unlikeable and i hated how it ended with NO conclusion to the original murder.


message 49: by Rhian (new) - rated it 1 star

Rhian I actually read the secret place and it's just as bad as into the woods where unanswered questions are concerned, thankfully I got it for free so won't lose sleep over the potential waste of money


message 50: by Rhian (new) - rated it 1 star

Rhian I meant "the lights thing$ was unexplained and pointless and generally as bad as into the woods, I really fancied the secret place and wanted to like it but sadly it was not to be


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