I had a hard time deciding what to rate Tana French’s In The Woods. It was pretty good for what it was. Actually, I enjoyed it. But I never fell in love. This novel is a fairly typical, although I think above average, police/detective thriller. It begins when twelve year old Katy Devlin is found murdered on an archaelogical site outside Dublin. Detective Rob Ryan, and his spunky partner and best friend Detective Cassie Maddox, are assigned to the case. However, soon it is obvious that this case resembles one from twenty years before. In this same quiet suburb, two young children went missing, while a third was left behind in bloody shoes, without any memory of the event. This child, unbeknownst to his boss, was Detective Ryan’s twelve-year old self. While solving the murder of Katy, he must try to remember his own past and deal with the aftermath of being the child left behind. He hopes that in solving Katy’s murder, he can find the truth behind what happened to his two best friends twenty years ago.
There is an interesting political subplot, the archeology scenes were fascinating, and each character seemed to be hiding more than the last, including the narrator who tells you from the beginning that he lies. I liked all that about In the Woods. I also liked the psychological aspects of the book (although I’m the first to admit that I tend to dislike psychology – being a soft science trying to pertend it’s not). Possible motives for Katy’s murder ranged from the usuals: physical abuse, sexual abuse, jealousy; to the more unusual and creative: Munchausen by Proxy and pyschopathic disorders. I like when authors stretch themselves a little, and its clear that French has done her research. I guess my only problems with In the Woods were A) that I guessed some of the solution way too early in the book, and B) the middle portions of the book seemed to drag on without furthering the case any. I guess I’m admiting that I thought the book was too long (429 pages), or at least longer than was necessary. But I have to give author French her due for making an intelligent, intricate crime novel. This book is a definate ‘recommend’ for those who like this genre.