Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Book Review: In the Woods by Tana French

I bought this book solely based on the cover design—the creepy spreading-root graphic really spoke to me—so was surprised that I actually liked it. It’s a mystery set in Ireland that weaves the main story of the murder of 12-year-old Katy Devlin into the unsolved disappearance 20 years ago of two 12-year olds from the same woods in which Katy was murdered. Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox lead the investigation. Rob Ryan just so happens to be the friend of the missing 12-year olds who was with them when they disappeared. He was found with blood-filled shoes and tears in his shirt but couldn’t remember what happened, so the case had never been solved.

It’s a slow starting book, but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down (including shouting “Go Steelers” on Sunday night in between sentences because I couldn’t bear to stop reading). I don’t think I’d ever read a police investigation from start (how cases are assigned and teams are put together) to finish (not only finding out the murderer but also the motive), so that was interesting. In this case, there were no obvious suspects or leads for months, even after the detectives worked every angle imaginable. The identity of the murderer and the motive was a good surprise, but as with any good whodunit, it was easy to look back and see how all the signs pointed to the murderer throughout the book after you knew who it was. I especially liked the police interrogation scenes and the strategies the detectives used on suspects. The flirtatious relationship between Rob and Cassie played a big role, but didn’t much interest me—and I didn’t like how their relationship culminated.

I don’t like books that wrap every single loose end up into a bow that’s a happy ending; nor do I like books whose endings are depressing. In the Woods wrapped up some loose ends but left others unraveled—enough for a sequel, I bet.

My rating: Three Meows (one being bad, five being good) for a fun read, and also for learning some Irish jargon (I guess they call every meal tea?)