In the Woods by Tana French (Amazon link)
Rating: Very Good
Description: 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 and stunning in its complexity, In the Woods is utterly convincing and surprising to the end.
Why I Picked This Book: This has been on my must read list for years and it was past time to read it!
My Impression: Tana French was an author I had never heard of in the pre-blogging days but once I had heard of her I couldn't help but wonder how I had missed her. I mean a police procedural set in Ireland? This should have leaped off the bookshelf at me in a bookstore and yelled - "Read Me". For some reason that didn't happen and I was left to discover her on my own and even harder - make time to read the first in the Dublin Murder Squad series.
I really enjoyed this one. It wasn't the fastest read but it was one I enjoyed savoring. French's writing is darkly atmospheric with a seriously twisted mystery. I loved Cassie Maddox right from the start and am really excited she'll be front and center in the 2nd book in this series. Ryan was a little harder to like but he's an interesting character. He has a shiny slick veneer but it's hiding some serious baggage.
The two mysteries intrigued me right away. What happened to the two children in the woods all those years ago and who murdered the young girl found that morning? I really had no idea until the reveal though I had inklings that something wasn't right.
What kept me from loving this book was the ending. While the modern day mystery was wrapped up nicely the old mystery wasn't. I don't think I'd mind this if there was a follow up in the next book but there doesn't seem to be - or any conclusion in any of the other books. The mystery is developed enough that it got just as much page time as the primary mystery and by the end I'm dying to know what happened. I'm hoping that French will go back to Knockanaree and just what happened to Peter and Jamie but until then not knowing does dampen my enjoyment of this book. That aside I've already bought a copy of The Likeness and can't wait to see more of Cassie.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? Absolutely! I already have a copy of the 2nd book and can't wait to read it!
Would I Recommend this Book? If you enjoy mysteries - especially police procedurals like Deborah Crombie and Ian Rankin - this is a great choice.