In the Woods by Tana French
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I had really mixed feelings about this book. Really, I felt like it was about 100 pages too long. By the time it got to the crux of the story, I was thinking "FINALLY!" instead of being curious to the end. I don't mind that it didn't end up with all the loose ends tied up, because I like having more to think about, but it was a little bit tedious at times, and sub-stories that felt unnecessary and unresolved. Additionally, there's a fantastical element that, in the end, is never really addressed.
Set in present-day Ireland, In The Woods is a 'you can never go home' type tale in which Andy/Rob is the sole survivor of a childhood tragedy in which he and two of his friends went to play in the woods one day, and two of them never came out. His family left, sent Andy to boarding school after which he changed his name to Rob to avoid further media and police contacts. He had no memory of the event, or several years leading up to it. As unbeknownst to his boss and co-workers, and is assigned a murder investigation that appears to have close ties with his own unresolved case.
Perhaps what was most disappointing is that the character that's supposed to be the 'surprise psychotic' is really not surprising at all. Rosalind is fairly transparently manipulative, and it's surprising that a seasoned detective was completely snowed by her when it was obvious to me, as the reader. Had she had more characteristics that were similar to Jamie, hence a reason for Adam/Rob to have a soft spot for her, I could see it, but otherwise it just doesn't fit.
Even though I wasn't wowed by this novel I would still recommend it to others, and would like to have it be part of a book discussion so that I could get different readers' perspectives. Overall, I think it's a great first novel, but it's not ground-breaking, and I look forward to reading the next book in my queue by her to see if her stories become more sophisticated and the characters less transparent.
But, as another reviewer on goodreaders so eloquently put it "Or could it be that weaving an engrossing, eclectic, multi-layered tale of murder, mythological spirits, and memory is a hell of a lot easier when an author goes into it knowing there's no way and no need to wrap it up? Because that's just lazy. "
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