In the Woods

In the Woods

Book - 2007
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When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood. He had no memory of what had happened.

Twenty years on, Rob Ryan - the child who came back - is a detective in the Dublin police force. He's changed his name. No one knows about his past. Then a little girl's body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. Knowing that he would be thrown off the case if his past were revealed, Rob takes a fateful decision to keep quiet but hope that he might also solve the twenty-year-old mystery of the woods.

Publisher: London : Hodder, 2007.
ISBN: 9781529335514
Characteristics: 596 pages ;,18 cm.


From Library Staff

This type of mystery involves the sleuth being a private investigator, an amateur, a nosy neighbor, or someone of the kind. It’s centralized who if figuring out the crime.

From the critics

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Apr 08, 2021

I listened to this book and it was way too long. Too many long thoughts by the main character and confusing at times. I was very disappointed in the ending because one crime, although it was solved, the perpetrator was not punished and the other crime was not solved.

Mar 03, 2021

Interesting that this debut novel of French's won the Edgar Award as well as several other awards. At 600 pages, this police procedural book, set in the Dublin area, was too long for me. While the author has intertwined 2 storylines that involved the main character, a police detective, investigating the murder of a 12 year old girl in the same woods where his 2 friends had disappeared 20 years ago, only one of those storylines gets solved. Both storylines are intriguing - one is told through the detective's remembrances of that traumatic event, the other by police following clues, interviews, and identifying suspects. The author is very adept at character development providing vivid detail, at appropriate times, about her characters' lives. She also has the ability to describe a situation with minute details in almost lyric prose. However, mid-way through, I tended to skip over these lengthy descriptive passages as I wanted to know how the detectives solved this case. About 150 pages from the last page, the author finally has her detectives identify the murder suspect, and she tells us why and how the murder happened and what the outcome of the trial was. It was enjoyable to read a novel where the author has such a skill in writing and storytelling even though at times it appeared to be long-winded to me.

Feb 03, 2021

This is a very weak thriller better left to the Lifetime channel. Half of the story goes nowhere and the other half is flat out cutesy. Highly overrated.

Jan 24, 2021

Too wordy, lots of pages of nothing. I found myself skipping pages and didn't feel like I missed anything. The ending wasn't particularly good and there is never a good build up to the end like you'd expect in a well written, taut murder mystery.
The mystery the book starts with never goes anywhere either. Mainly disappointed that I waited over 6 weeks for the book!

Nov 16, 2020

I was very disappointed - too wordy, confusing at times, and the mystery presented at the beginning of the novel was never answered.

JCLBreAnnaB Oct 31, 2020

Loved the author's efficient descriptions of humanity and interactions - it really draws you in to the characters. Though some of the mystery is resolved, you are still left with some at the end, which I didn't love. Overall I enjoyed her style and as this was the first book I have read of Tana French, I am definitely intrigued to check out more of her mysteries!

Sep 15, 2020

Trying to read this book with reading glasses AND a magnifying glass because the print is so small you know it's time to give up! I really, really tried to stay with reading but it just wasn't worth it. The story is boring, the characters are boring, the descriptions of everything are way to long and the ending is disappointing. I did read through some of the chapters to get the main jest of the book. I wish the author would have stayed with the prologue and not off on another story. You never get the prologue resolved and that is very disappointing.

Sep 12, 2020

Saw the series first and the book added so much more to the back story of emotions. And the writing was a gift, right from the start - smart, lyrical, hero cops with tragic stories that make them better at what they do but so flawed and scarred yet beautiful. I kept making time throughout the day to get another 1/2 chapter or 4 in. You wanted to read it fast so that the detective could finally catch up to where you thing it is going, even though it doesn’t all go there. Cassie’s side story going undercover is not in this novel.

ArapahoeTiegan Sep 02, 2020

Well.. I saw that ending coming. I didn't particularly like Detective Ryan or his way of telling the story. But I'll continue on the read book 2 and see if maybe I can enjoy some of this series.

Aug 24, 2020

Tana French's first Dublin Murder Squad book is a real winner. The lead detective and narrator is the lone survivor of 3 children who went into the wooded area near their home and the other 2 never returned. He has no memory of what happened that day. About 20 years later, another 12 year old girl is found murdered near where his friends disappeared. Are the two cases - the first was never solved - related? Tana French gives us a beautifully written procedural that examines the nature of friendship, love and burrows deep inside the main characters' heads, including lead Detective Rob Ryan, his partner Cassie Maddox and their recently added third wheel, Sam. This is my first time reading a Tana French novel, but there will be others. Highly recommended!

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May 15, 2019

crystalpatterson thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Apr 05, 2017

gobula thinks this title is suitable for 2 years and under

Jul 27, 2016

BWilsoned thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Kristen MERKE
Jul 02, 2013

Kristen MERKE thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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Jul 25, 2017

This book wasn't quite what I was expecting--it was far more.

French writes with a taut, well-paced style. The story begins with several potential areas of tension: male and female detective partners; a detective who is hiding his true identity because of a childhood trauma; and a murder to solve that has taken place at the site of that childhood trauma. And the author pulls and works each of these strands in the a very taut rope.

Because the story is told in first-person—Detective Rob Ryan is living with the aftermath of a childhood trauma—the reader sees and hears everything he does. But we also see how his mind works. More interestingly, we watch his mind unravel. But French's writing is so tightly paced that the reader is sliding down the treacherous slope with Rob Ryan before we realize it.

Detective Ryan’s story begins as a typical detective investigation, with only a few phrases suggesting he is telling this story from a point in the future. But as the murder investigation continues, the tension between Ryan and his partner builds. This becomes more apparent in Ryan’s telling, as he begins adding more information about their relationship and the changes he begins to recognize after the case.

As the case reaches its tense conclusion, Ryan’s voice becomes a tight balance between distraught and resigned. And the reader cannot put the book down until knowing how the story turns out.

As the investigation concludes, the reader is as exhausted as the investigators. The final chapter is Ryan’s “now.” He is looking back with all the awareness of hindsight, filled with sadness, self-loathing, and resignation.

This reader was left feeling overwhelmed by the emotions in these characters as well as the self-absorption most humans go through life with. One of the most amazing “whodunits” I’ve ever read.

Feb 23, 2011

loved it, a dark mystery with characters i enjoyed reading about. A detective who was the sole surviver of a abuduction of two of his other friends, investigates a murder that took place in the same location 25 years later. Haunting and lonely- you won't like the ending.


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May 15, 2019

Other: mention of child rape


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Aug 14, 2010

"Don't step on anything that looks like archaeology."

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