Saturday, October 25, 2008

In the Woods by Tana French

Hello All!

In the Woods by Tana French, swept all the awards it was eligible for this year in the mystery field: winner of the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, the Anthony Award for Best First Mystery, Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, and the Barry Award for Best First Novel. Whew! As I like to give the award winners at least a try, it was time to read this one.

I liked the Irish setting, how it was just a bit dark, but not too dark for me, and I liked the connection it had with a past crime. The story is told from the viewpoint of Detective Adam Ryan of the Murder Squad, outside Dublin. He was one of three children who went missing in a small woods near his subdivision, and was the child who was found; his best friends were never seen again. Twenty-plus years later, an archelogical dig is going on near those same woods, and a little girl is found murdered and assaulted on the site. Detective Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox are assigned the case. Ryan knows that if his past with the location were found out, he'd be taken off the case, but he keeps quiet, and the case goes forward. There are some points where the book goes on a bit, but I felt this gave the reader a more honest insight to how frustrating a murder case can be, and how long they can drag out. In the end, some questions are answered, and some are not, and some books, like this one, are the better for that kind of ending.

This book reminded me a lot of Val McDermid's A Place of Execution, and since the beginning of the book, I've been trying to pinpoint exactly why. I think that it's because both books are so atmospheric, and also that both books take you inside the methodical work of the police. There was also one of the Charles Todd's Inspector Ian Rutledge mysteries where a small woods and the crimes, past and present, dominate the story.

Another atmospheric Irish mystery is Erin Hart's Haunted Ground--one of my favorites.

Here are the links to the awards named above, and nominees and winners for this year:
Anthony Awards
Barry Awards
Edgar Awards
Macavity Awards

Happy Reading!


Patti O said...


Hi Patti:

I agree with you that this bok was well written & the psychological twist was indeed worthy of McDermid but it absolutely drove me crazy that she didn't resolve the one thread. Plus I did think it was too long. HOWEVER it wouldn't keep me from reading the next book (where I hear the dangling thread is addressed though not completely resolved).


Patti O said...


I think I'll give the next one a try, mostly because, for me, she's not as dark as many of the Irish writers today.


Jen said...

Hi Patti,

I have to agree with Robin on the fact that the book was TOO LONG. Her writing is fantastic, but she definitely could have shortened the book up and made it much tighter. The plot was far too loose to have been worthy of all the awards that were lavished on it. The ending didn't bother me as much simply because in life, situations like that are rarely resolved 30 years later. It was realistic to me. I do want to read THE LIKENESS because it focuses on Cassie who was the only character I ended up liking by the conclusion of IN THE WOODS! ha!

pattinase (abbott) said...

A Place of Execution is being made into a series just now. Can't wait.

Patti O said...

I hope, hope, hope they do a good job with a series about A Place of Execution--it's such a great book.
Thanks for the info!

Patti O said...

To Jen:

I liked Cassie the best of all the characters also. She seemed to really know herself, and know how to take care of herself. It'll be a little while, due to the many, many books I want to read ;), but I will read The Likeness.