The thrill-seeker in me is drawn to anything with “woods” in the title; from experience, there’s bound to be something spooky lurking behind the covers. Tana French’s “In the Woods” was no different. I began reading the book without knowing that it is actually the first in a series called the “Dublin Murder Squad trilogy”. I blindly picked it up from a tiny lending library, where its eerie cover and plot description stood out to me among a collection of romance novels. I’m a big fan of crime and murder mysteries on TV (The Fall, The Killing, Criminal Minds, etc), and in literature (mostly Gillian Flynn’s mysteries), so I knew I would probably enjoy In the Woods.
The plot description is what initially drew me in—In the 80s, a group of three children wander through the woods behind their home in Ireland. Later that night, their families search for them and only find one, Adam, who is gripping onto a tree and is wearing sneakers filled with blood. Adam late hides his identity and changes his name to Rob, and eventually becomes a murder detective, though his memory of that day remains blank.
The story begins with Rob and his detective partner Cassie working to solve a murder case that occurred in the same woods. The body of 12 year old Katy Devlin is found, partially buried at an archaeological site nearby. As the case progresses, the thrills increase as the detectives discover strange occurrences within Katy’s family and in the lore of the surrounding town. Initially, the book moved slowly and took its time in revealing key information. However, at the half way point I became hooked. The plot twist at the ending did remind me of the “Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn, though the rest of the book was much less shocking and brutal.
Tana French’s writing is clear yet impressive, and her characters are likable and interesting. The relationships and backstories of the main characters are not overshadowed by the main mystery, and they develop and change throughout the novel.
“In the Woods” was a thrilling and captivating read that kept me up late at night. However, without spoiling anything, I will say that I found the ending to be disappointing. It left behind loose ends that I hope are tied together in the later books of the series.