Irish Spotlight Book Review

Tana French's 'In the Woods'

In the WoodsIn honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we are featuring the first novel in Tana French’s “Dublin Murder Squad” series, In the Woods. The novel is set in Ireland and features both the grimy edge of urban Dublin, as well as the picturesque countryside community of Knocknaree.

The novel opens with the re-telling of a twenty year-old mystery, involving the disappearance of two young children and the story of the third child who escaped their fate.  This child grows up to be a homicide detective, Rob Ryan, who is then assigned a murder case that took place in the same woods in which his friends disappeared.  Against protocol and his better judgment, Rob does not remove himself from the case.

Throughout the novel, more details about the earlier crime are revealed as Rob’s memories return to him, mainly due to his familiarity with the woods at Knocknaree and the time he now spends there on his new investigation.

In the Woods is a psychological thriller in every sense of the term, and French keeps you on edge and guessing throughout. The author is also not afraid to make her narrator dislikable, a trait which lends credibility and believability to the narrative.  All the questions in the novel may not be answered, but this is part of the fun, as the psychological thriller unfolds in a true-to-life fashion that is sure to keep your attention, and maybe steal a fewer hours of your sleep as well.