In the Woods

Monday, October 15, 2012

In the Woods
by Tana French

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.
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.

I read this for the R.I.P. Challenge


Bybee said...

I liked this book and didn't expect to since I'm not a mystery fan.

Amanda said...

I actually kinda liked the part you mentioned in the spoiler section. What I didn't like was how Ryan's relationship with Cassie ended up. I was glad that the next book was narrated by her, because by the end, I hated him! I think of the three Tana French books I've read so far, this has been my least favorite.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Bybee - I've yet to find anyone that hated this book!

Amanda - I didn't like how their relationship ended either, but it was absolutely his fault! I'm glad to hear the rest of the series is even better. Now I want to make reading the next one a priority.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I meant to read this for RIP VII, but I finished my 4 books already without it -- still have a few weeks though so many I'll do a 5th...sounds good Melissa.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Diane - I have had The Moonstone on my RIP list for 2 years now and I still haven't gotten to it! Shame on me.

Jenners said...

Isn't she the best writer? Trust me when I tell you she hasn't written a bad book yet. You'll get used to changing narrators each time (she has a different one in each book but they always have a bit part in the previous book -- half the fun is guessing who it is going to be). I've fallen under her spell with every book she's written. Not all are as unresolved as this one. I stlll hold out hope she will revisit this but I don't think she will.

Kristi said...

I really enjoyed this one too, but I think The Likeness was my favorite because I really liked Cassie as a character. I wish that there was more of a resolution to the mystery with Rob, but it didn't ruin the book for me.

Even though I didn't like Rob as a person, as a character I found him fascinating. I would love if French would eventually come back to him as a narrator and maybe resolve his mystery. Just wishful thinking--I doubt it will happen.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jenners - I didn't think about that. It would be fun to guess who the next narrator will be!

Kristi - Now I'm really excited about reading The Likeness. I liked Cassie too and I agree, Rob was so fascinating.