I’ve been meaning to read this for a long time (it’s been on my shelves for years) and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. I was in the perfect mood for a dark, twisty mystery. And this is exactly the kind of mystery I tend to go for: detailed, melancholy, with complex characters.
In The Woods centers on Rob Ryan, detective in the Dublin Murder Squad. When he was twelve years old, his best friends went missing in the woods behind their neighborhood and he was the only survivor. Despite the blood, no one ever found their bodies and Rob was never able to remember what happened. When present day Rob pulls a murder case with possible ties to his childhood trauma, his life starts to turn upside down.
French’s writing was very, very good, especially considering this was her debut novel. She has a clear talent for language that makes me really look forward to reading her subsequent books. Not only are her characters fully realized, but the story doesn’t treat them with kid gloves. They’re humans who makes mistakes and have to deal with the consequences of those mistakes. The only thing I didn’t love about this book was the first person narration from some future point. French uses little interjections like “I wish I had known that blahblahblah would be the last time that blahblahblah” and I get that she wrote like that as a way to ramp up suspense, but I found it distracting at times.
I think many people would enjoy this book, but if you’re squeamish about violence or get bored by the nitty-gritty details of detective work, this probably isn’t the book for you.