A little late to game I decided to read In the Woods by Tana French. Published in 2007 the book is the first in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. Normally not a fan of investigative crime series I found myself satisfyingly immersed in the book. A story within a story, the book is told through the eyes of Detective Ryan. A slightly unreliable narrator, Ryan relates the tale in past tense, explaining a complicated case that has connections to his own traumatic past.
Ryan and his partner Detective Cassie Maddox are called in to investigate the murder of a young girl in a suburb on the outskirts of Dublin. The location is the same one in which twenty years earlier three children went missing in the woods surrounding the neighborhood. One of the children, Ryan, was found alone covered in blood while the other two, his childhood friends, were never found. Grappling with the mystery of his youth and his buried memories, Ryan struggles to keep his sanity as the current case begins to hit to close to home. As Maddox and he begin to investigate, they uncover varying leads, all eerily tracing back to the woods as the scene of the crime.
The plot is teeming with atmosphere, coupled with multi-layered character portrayals that keep you guessing until the very end. While French leaves the reader breadcrumbs to find, the end is intricately complex, sure to surprise even the most diligent of readers. Despite its length, clocking in at over 400 pages, it reads quickly thanks to its stunning pace and rich dialogue. My only fault with the work is that each book in the series is a story unto its own, meaning that all my unanswered questions would remain forever untold. However, the fact that the ending is neither neat nor typical makes for a bold and refreshing change.