Friday, May 20, 2011

In the Woods - Mystery that left me haunted!

Review: In the Woods
by Tana French

Looking for more variety in my reading, I picked up this mystery novel, which has been prominently displayed throughout bookstores. I’ve always been a lover of mysteries, but haven’t read a good one in a while (the Sookie Stackhouse series being the exception!).
This novel is immediately intriguing as it becomes clear that the main character, Detective Rob Ryan, is the sole survivor of a childhood tragedy. The novel is set in Ireland and while Ryan no longer lives in the suburb of his childhood, he is still haunted by the unsolved mystery of the disappearance of his best friends in the nearby woods. Particularly unsettling to Ryan is the fact that he has no recollection of what happened, although he had been with them at the time of their disappearance and was found clutching a tree with blood soaking his socks – not his blood.
The tragedy forces his family to move and Ryan is sent to boarding school where he takes on his middle name (Rob, instead of Adam) so that he can disassociate himself from the event and move on with his life.
Fate brings Detective Ryan and his partner Cassie back to these woods when a young girl is found murdered. Ryan’s inner demons rise up and he becomes lost in his search for answers from his youth as well as the identity of the present day murderer. Are the two events linked?
Ryan is a damaged character with commitment issues and lingering ghosts from his past, but he is likable. The author, Tana French, develops his character in a way that makes readers feel sympathy and fascination for him, even while some of his actions can be frustrating and shocking. He is human. He makes mistakes, but he acknowledges them and that makes all of the difference.
I will admit that I knew the identity of the murderer midway through the novel, but I didn’t know the details and I was still intrigued as to how there might be a connection to Ryan’s childhood tragedy.
The ending of this book will not satisfy all readers – especially those who love happy endings and clear resolutions. And while there is a definite conclusion, some unanswered questions could gnaw at you. Personally, I enjoyed the ending. It left me feeling slightly haunted, but because of this, I know I won’t forget the book any time soon. Besides, any book that leaves you feeling has achieved some measure of success, hasn’t it?

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