IN THE WOODS by Tana French

From the Back Cover

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.

My Thoughts

IN THE WOODS is my first-ever mystery novel and WOW did I love it!! The novel focuses on two mysteries, the first being the disappearance of Detective Rob Ryan’s two best friends when they were young kids in the ‘80s, which Rob has no memory of, and the second being the murder of a young girl found in those same woods thirty years later, with Rob assigned to the case alongside his partner Cassie. The addition of the second case from Rob’s childhood adds a highly intriguing and necessary layer to the story. Through an exploration of both cases, the reader is able to really get to know Rob and the way his mind works. IN THE WOODS is character-driven rather than plot-driven, which is probably the reason I enjoyed it so much!

“I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn’t find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself.”

Beyond an intense character portrait of our main character Rob, IN THE WOODS also contains a balanced amount of police procedure and psychological suspense. The perpetrator isn’t revealed until the end, and although I had a good guess as to who it was, I was still unsure of myself until they were officially revealed. I’ve heard some readers state their disappointment with the heavy emphasis on police procedure, on the ins and outs of the murder squad and the routine of solving a case, but I thought it was fascinating. Plus, there is a great amount of suspense in regards to solving the case, but also with attention to Rob’s mysterious past, both of which had me desperately turning the pages. I have read psychological thrillers before, none of which excited me more than IN THE WOODS.

IN THE WOODS by Tana French is a well-constructed, multi-layered detective novel. Its pace, narration style, and intrigue made it addictive and unputdownable for me! I am so happy I found a new genre to explore and I absolutely cannot wait to continue reading this series- after finishing IN THE WOODS, I immediately added the second book, THE LIKENESS, to my wish list!


  1. Literary Elephant

    Your first ever mystery!! It can definitely be a fun genre, I hope you’ll enjoy more of it going forward! Tana French is an author I’ve yet to try and would like to, so I’m glad to see you had a good time with this one. I hope the rest of the series lives up to the strong start for you!

    Liked by 1 person

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