Book Review: In the Woods

Rating: 3 out of 5.

  • Author: Tana French
  • Genre: Thriller/Suspense
  • Page Count: 429
  • Date Started: 6/4
  • Date Finished: 6/11
  • Spoilers?: Sort of. (Not the twists or anything, but some vague references to the end)

A Brief 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.

Goodreads || Amazon

“I am not good at noticing when I’m happy, except in retrospect.”


***Content Warnings: Rape, Sexual Assault, Talk of Abuse, Death of a Child***

I’m going to start by saying that I don’t normally read mystery thrillers. They’re not really for me usually. I usually find myself not really surprised by the twists. I find myself being let down. This one didn’t really do that. I rated this one 3 stars (which some would consider low, but for me it’s actually quite high. I rated this one 3 stars because the ending felt… abrupt.

mild spoiler in this paragraph. Skip ahead to next paragraph if you would like to keep yourself unspoiled

Don’t get me wrong, the mystery, or better, ONE, of the mysteries was solved. The one that I was more interested in was not. It was just… let go. I realize that this is a series that might be answered at some other point in the series, but I felt like I would have preferred it to be wrapped up in this book in the series.

That being said, the mystery of who killed Katy Devlin kept me invested. I wanted to know who killed her, and why. The ending was satisfying and the reveal of who killed her was also satisfying.

I did call it though. I remember writing in my notes that “I think it’s [redacted] and being proved right later on in the story, so I was in equal parts disappointed that I had solved it, but also happy that I was able to solve the mystery myself.

Adam, or Robert Ryan is the detective that is on this case, along with his partner Cassie Maddox. Twenty years before the case of Katy Devlin, Robert Ryan and two of his friends disappeared into the woods and were lost for a time. The search party only found Robert Ryan, clinging to a tree, with blood in his sneakers and no memory of what had occured. The other two children, Jamie and Peter, were never seen again.

Robert Ryan was the worst protagonist I’ve read from in a long while. He was very frustrating and he was not a really good detective. He missed very obvious signs of who the killer was and proceeded to continue past them without following up. He inserted himself in an investigation that could have been linked to his previous disappearing and did not say anything to his superiors. He was just a frustrating perspective to read from. He was also a bit of an asshole.

I will say that there were moments where this book was incredibly sexist. Particularly to Cassie Maddox, the only female detective on the Dublin Murder Squad. I realize that this book was written in 2008-2009 and that it is a product of it’s time, but I feel like this is something that should be mentioned.

Like I mentioned above, I rated this 3 stars, which is still an “I liked it” on Goodreads. I plan on continuing the series at a later date.

Have you read this book? What did you think? What is your favorite mystery/thriller/suspense novel?

Stay happy, healthy and safe out there,



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