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In The Woods by Tana French

This is Tana French's first mystery novel and it was merely all right.  There were some things that I really enjoyed and some things that I really didn't like.

Ms. French's first novel follows a snapshot in the career and life of a detective on Dublin's murder squad. It specifically follows him on one case - the murder of a 12 year old girl that occurred in the town that he grew up in and how it draws him back into the tragedy that led to him becoming a detective in the first place. Because when he was 12, Detective Ryan's two friends - Jamie and Peter - went into the woods in the town of Knocknaree and never came out, although Detective Ryan did. He was found in a catatonic state, against a tree, with Jamie's blood in his shoes but with no memory of anything that had happened to them while they were in the woods. The mystery of what had happened to the youngsters was never resolved. Since this has happened, Detective Ryan has changed his name from Adam to Rob, has adopted the British accent that was so popular at the boarding school that he was sent to and is a murder detective with a cool partner named Cassie.

Cassie and Rob catch the recent murder case, which also occurs in Knockaree and appears to have a very tenuous link to Detective Ryan's past.

I really enjoyed the characters that French has developed - they are so vivid and three dimensional and human. They aren't heroes in the sense that Superman and Wonder Woman are heroes are and their flaws make them that much more easily related to. For instance, Rob struggles with whether to tell his boss that he in fact has this case in his past that may impact his ability to work on the case that he just got put on with Cassie.  This is something that people may have their own struggles with - it's easy to see people in the same position professionally.  I *hated* the ending and the loose ends that were left. I have no idea if French did that intentionally because she was planning on writing a sequel but it really, really irked me when things that had been built up during the course of the novel weren't resolved in any way - whether by closing it out or letting the reader know that another book was forthcoming.


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