Frankly my dear, I do give a damn – “In the Woods” by Tana French

November 9, 2011 at 7:16 pm 7 comments

Cover of "In the Woods"

Cover of In the Woods

In the Woodsby Tana French, Published 2007

I loved this book.
Seriously,  stop what you are reading or pause your DVR or quit your job or after being incredibly responsible reward yourself and read this book.    In the arena of suspense novels it is one of the best I have read – no, I am not kidding.

It begins with a story about three children who, in 1984, disappear into the woods right outside of Dublin, Ireland. Only one child was ever found:

“…a policeman with a torch found Adam Ryan in a densely wooded area near the center of the wood, standing with his back and palms pressed against a large oak tree. His fingernails were digging into the trunk so deeply that they had not broken off in the bark.”

The reader then finds out that this kid, only all grown up and a murder detective, is the narrator.  Detective Ryan can remember nothing- not what happened to his friends, not how his socks were filled with blood, and not, perhaps most importantly, why he survived. And instead of memory, he is forever left with the guilt of surviving.

But he finds himself with a new murder mystery to solve, twenty years later, in the same woods.  A young girl, Katy Devlin, is found strangled in the field that is left where the woods have in part been removed.  Ryan is stuck trying to solve this new murder, determine whether there is a connection between the two incidents, while desperately trying to remember what happened twenty years ago.  It is an amazing balancing act, that crumbles very quickly. And that folks, is all I can share about this book. I feel that if I share more, it will be too much.  I will say that Ryan warns you from the beginning that he is not a reliable narrator:

“What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with truth is fundamental but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies and concealment and every variation on deception.”

The ending is not what you want but as a reader you quickly realize that French really gave you the only ending that works. And though it is not Scarlett and Rhett living happily ever after (which after 4 hours of film should have happened), it is indeed what you knew all along would happen or at least what you suspected would happen.  But you don’t feel cheated, you just feel resigned.  And that is some amazing writing.

Entry filed under: November 2011 reads. Tags: , , , , .

1991 was indeed a spooky year, I think – “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” Sometimes surviving is enough – “I’d Know You Anywhere” by Laura Lippman

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mary Nienaber  |  November 9, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    You know, in the UK, when they say “torch,” they mean flashlight.

    • 2. Emily C  |  November 10, 2011 at 8:33 am

      This moment from Mary, sponsored by the BBC.

  • 3. Miriam  |  November 12, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Speaking of amazing writing: I got a literal case of the goosebumps in your opening p-graphs. I’m so interested, I’m off to google spoilers.

    • 4. Emily C  |  November 12, 2011 at 10:08 pm

      Oh Mirm, you have made me so proud!

  • 5. shambolicliving  |  November 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    I want to race out and get this book immediately.

    • 6. Emily C  |  November 12, 2011 at 10:08 pm

      I hope when you read it you enjoy it as much as I did.

  • […] French is one of my favorite modern suspense novelists.  Her books (“In the Woods,” “The Likeness” and “Faithful Place”) leave you with that spine-tingling, […]


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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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