"The word is the making of the world." - Wallace Stevens

Saturday, October 30, 2010

In the Woods - Tana French

First of all, let me just say that I can't adequately express my feelings for this story without giving a lot away. But don't worry, I'm not in the mood to write spoilers so I'll just be vague.

There are two story lines you follow while reading this book, most of the book focuses on the police investigation of a murdered girl in Knocknaree, Ireland in the present. Detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox are the partners working the case. But the big complication is that Rob, actually Adam Ryan, is the sole survivor from an unsolved incident that took place in Knocknaree when he was a kid, in which his two best friends end up missing and he has no memory of what happened. He becomes as much drawn up in his past as he is in trying to focus on the Katy Devlin's murder in the present.

Now, I'm a fan of stories that make use of how the past touches the present. And I'm even okay with the fact that not all stories have a satisfying sense of closure. But when I finished the book, my general feeling was "that's it?". Not only because the investigations didn't satisfy me, neither did the way the main characters left things or who they ended up with. It made me sad, actually.

I began reading this book for the Ireland reading challenge armed with the knowledge that this was the author's first published work, so I tried not to be too judgmental. I enjoyed the read, but I also figured out the "whodunit" part maybe halfway through. It seemed kind of obvious. The characters themselves were more interesting to me than the plot. I enjoyed that the author made them human enough to make mistakes and did a good job of exposing what makes them fragile or predatory, but there were still some elements of the unrealistic to their relationships. I'd give you examples of what I mean, but it would give too much away.

In the words of Levar Burton, "You don't have to take my word for it." If you have the chance, give it a read and see what you think. I've been told her novel The Likeness has some of the same characters, so I will probably get to that at some point. But it's going to take a while, I'm going to have to get over feeling depressed about the previous story.

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