In the Woods

In the Woods by Tana French Book Summary

The debut novel of an astonishing voice in psychological suspense

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones.

In the Woods by Tana French Book Reviews

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- Incredibly beautiful language.5 star

Incredibly beautiful use of language. French describes the natural world it a purely poetic manner, makes it integral character. Her human characters have warmth, humor and heartbreak and we live them all through her words. The is easily the best book I have read in a long time. More than a mystery, this is literature at its finest.

- Poetic and suspenseful5 star

Tana French is that rare combination of skillful writer of memorable scenes and characters as well as an expert at spinning the web of a murder mystery. And you will be caught in that web until the very end.

- In the Woods5 star

Excellently crafted

- Best book I’ve read in a long time...5 star

I read this book in a day in and a half while camping. The writing is incredible and luxurious, the characters are rich and believable, and I didn’t want to leave French’s world when it was over. The end, as well, impressed me and upset me so much I couldn’t stop talking about it for the rest of the camping trip.

- Amazing book5 star

One of my all time favorite books. The show doesn’t do it justice in the slightest.

- In the Woods5 star

This is a story that can definitely get to one. Early on, I found myself liking the characters and especially the investigators in our mystery. Yet there was something infinitely immature, wounded and fragile about them with terrifyingly evil presences... real? Imagined? ...lurking in the shadows that one could only wish could have been seized and plucked out. But, faithful to and typical of the nature of grief, we readers could only go through it one step at a time until we reached the other side. It is a sad story in the way that life is something sad with the realization the some things cannot be changed nor some things undone. And, though life goes on, some choices destroy potentials as well as brighter paths. Our task? Keep our eyes focused lest we, living yesterday, lose the life that remains.

- In the Weeds2 star

Promising story though it could have been told in half the words. In this murder/thriller genre, I’m reading to find out ‘what happens next’. The author gets way too bogged down in description rather than forwarding the plot. I found myself skimming chunks of the book to get to the stuff that mattered. A generous red pen would have made it a much better story. Wouldn’t recommend.

- Couldn’t finish1 star

Couldn’t get into this at all. I normally can read a book in about two days. In three weeks I barely am 20 percent through. I give up.

- Irked3 star

The story had me all the way until the end....SO disappointed.....

- Three times the charm3 star

This is a slo burn of a novel which is more about the psychological outcome for Detective Rob Ryan. His past has significant impact on the current situation in Knockaree. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting; it thought it would be more of a police procedural. Despite the rough entry to this much loved series, I’m willing to continue reading the Dublin Murder Squad.

- Not my favorite but still good4 star

Overall I love French. Her later books a Faithful Place and Broken Harbor were awesome! This book was a little bit difficult to follow, it is different in not making a hero as great as other books make their heroes out to be. However, I liked how the ending was a lot different then what you would expect. The book dragged on a little

- Great, needs more answers though4 star

Awesome book, and the follow up, The Likeness, is also great. Just don’t expect a lot of answers in the end!!

- Boring2 star

Characters somewhat developed but not relatable

- Overall Ok3 star

Easy to follow with the many flashbacks and how main character views himself but readers are left hanging at the end with no definite answer on one of the main plots throughout the book.

- Loved it!5 star

Loved the characters. You feel like you know them. Hard to put down. Can’t wait to read all of her books. Definite 5 star

- Disappointing.2 star

Will try not to spoil plot but It was a bit boring throughout and leaving reader hanging was a let down.

- Long ride3 star

Too much read for nothing 😒 Mystery never solved .

- Unsatisfying3 star

The main question you want answered isn’t answered, which left me feeling unsatisfied.

- Into the woods1 star

Long drawn out, kept reading because i needed to know what happened to the missing kids, never happened, cant understand why this author did not give you answers about what happened in those woods! Couldn't have been more disappointed.....

- That ending tho!3 star

Started a little slow, got really into it, and then that ending though!

- In the woods2 star

Such a disappointment. It was compelling and worth the effort for 2/3 of the book. The final chapters seemed like they were written by a different author.

- In the Woods3 star

Great at times but I gave it three stars because of the ending.

- Not the detective story I was hoping for.2 star

In The Woods was a detective story about Ryan and Cassie who were partners in the crime department. I had different preconceived ideas about the direction of this story given the opening prologue of three kids missing in the woods. Turns out the story was about Ryan twenty years later. He was the only known survivor from the woods. Tana rambled on and on about nonsensical stuff that was not pertinent to the story. She inserted plot theories creating one distraction after another. I kept thinking when are the detectives going to solve this crime instead of drum up all this dirt on the local residents. The story contained three mini plots working simultaneously in conjunction to the crime of Katy. The story began with introducing Adam and his two friends who were playing in the woods. Adam was found having no recollection of what happened to him or his friends. Twenty years later, Ryan is a detective and he claimed it had nothing to do with him wanting to solve his case. Coincidentally, a twelve year old girl was found in the same woods. Ryan worked the case hoping to trigger some memories of his own. This was quite appealing to me and I had hoped for the same of Ryan. I desperately wanted information as to the wearabouts of his two friends and the mystery behind his shoes and shirt. Apparently, Ireland had no crime scene investigation team to aid in the discoveries of the 1984 missing kids case. Tana paralleled these two cases by comparing how twenty years later with some high tech equipment and some experienced field investigators a crime could be solved. Yet, the efforts, resources, and clues were still slow in showing results. Until they could find something concrete that fancy equipment was of no use. A lot of components made up this story offering many layers. I needed a notebook to keep track of all the characters and who they were related to and who they worked for. Not to mention the environmental aspect of the story. The detective process was time consuming and really boring since most information led to nothing but more nonsense. I suppose this is typical in detective findings. Cassie's character became extensively developed yet I waited for Ryan's character to reach this same level of development after all this story was about him. Ryan's character had no business being a detective in my opinion. Tana pulled at my heartstrings in the beginning making me believe Ryan could be holding vital information about his friends and possibly link it to the current case in the woods. Instead, Ryan was a mess. He barely functioned as a human being let alone a working detective. I did not care for Tana's style or technique in this detective story. Her approach and delivery at times was filled with unnecessary distractions. I felt lured into the story by the concept of three kids missing in the woods to find out the case was unsolved and Adam became a detective unrelated to his unsolved case. I wish Tana would have provided Ryan's detective history prior to solving this case. Cassie's character had talent to profile people. She was by far the best character in the story. Sam was another great detective who seemed to gather evidence appropriately. Ryan unfortunately was preoccupied and mentally unstable. I found him incapable of reading people. He was easily manipulated.

- Loved it!!!5 star

Age 19 when I read it. And it was my first mystery book, it's gotten me hooked

- Great Start2 star

This novel starts with a chilling situation that really grabs the reader. The characters are well developed and interesting in their own right. About halfway through, however, the whole story bogs down with uninteresting situations, boring discussions about alcohol and smoking, lots of flowery prose and an unsatisfactory ending all of which prevent me from reading any further in the series.

- Plodding Narrative3 star

Artful writing, character development long and boring, and the historical subplot anti-climactic. Need more than "dark woods" to frighten today's reader.

- Meh2 star

This book started off great and I was into it about 3/4 through and then it dragged on forever. I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened at the end and all the questions weren't even answered! So frustrating

- Good read; great book5 star

French is a wonderful writer. She has created full, real characters and a brilliant mystery story. Her imagery is vivid and her poetic writing evokes emotions. I could not stop reading this and cannot wait to start her next book.

- In the woods3 star

An ending that included wrapping up the only part of the book I really cared about would have been nice. An open ending is not really an option for a mystery. U kind of want the mystery solved. That's why u keep reading. 😐

- Suspenseful4 star

Loved the book! But i was a but confused in the end

- In the Woods4 star

The reader is captivated from the beginning. The author paints the characters so the reader finds them real and most of them likable. The many twists and turns and speculations keeps the story moving quickly. I was disappointed at the end but accepted the truth of it. Well worth the read .

- Utterly captivating5 star

Utterly captivating from the moment I picked it up until the last page. Great read.

- Love!5 star

This is such an amazing book! Loved everything about it. I listened to it on audible and it's purely captivating.

- Great read!5 star

Insightful characters, masterful rendition of settings, active storyline.All a great recipe for a mystery.

- In the Woods4 star

Great book! Loved the story and the police techniques, especially the interaction between the partners. Would have liked a bit less focus on the alcohol.

- The woods1 star

Wish I had back the hours I wasted on this book! What a letdown! will never read another of this author's books.

- Good Read4 star

Excellent writing and story telling. Left a few loose ends, but I'm hoping for a book that wraps things up at some point and goes back to Rob Ryan. Good book.

- Disappointing2 star

Read this novel on the recommendation of a friend and came up seriously disappointed. Superfluous writing that doesn't add to the story leaves you wading through paragraphs trying to simply get to the meat of it. The guilty party was sadly obvious, and untidy finish at the end after 600+ pages left me angry and unsatisfied.

- In The Woods2 star

The ending could have been so much more, it was untidy and inconclusive. The book had such high hopes, as the storyline was good, and building, until the end. It went out with a fizzle.

- In the Woods1 star

Horrible book, horrible ending and a waste of time!

- My first mystery novel4 star

My first mystery book- thought it was not bad, definitely a few twists and turns that keep it entertaining, still not sure whether I liked the ending, I'd recommend the book though

- In the woods1 star

Total disappointment and waste of my time.

- Enjoyed the ride, but4 star

I would have liked a few more answers in the end.

- Exceptional Book4 star

The sequel, The Likeness, is much better, but this book is very good.

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Tana French - In the Woods Comments

About Tana French Wiki

Tana French, born 1973 in Burlington, Vermont, is an American-Irish writer and theatrical actress. She is a longstanding resident of Dublin, Ireland. Her debut novel In the Woods (2007), a psychological mystery, won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for best first novel. The Independent has referred to her as "the First Lady of Irish Crime," who very quietly has become a huge international name among fiction readers. Personal life Tana Elizabeth French was born on 10 May 1973 in Burlington, Vermont to Elena Hvostoff-Lombardi and David French. Her father was an economist who worked on resource management for the developing world, so she lived in numerous countries as a child...

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