Saturday, December 9, 2017

In The Woods by Tana French

Twenty years ago in a Dublin suburb a tragedy occurred.  Three children, aged twelve, went into the neighboring woods where they played daily and didn't return.  Two were boys, one a girl.  When the search reached the woods, one boy, Adam Ryan, was found, terrorized with shoes full of blood and unable to speak.  The two other children were never found and Adam never regained his memory of what happened that day.

Adam's parents reinvented his life.  He was sent off to boarding school and his name became Rob instead of Adam.  He never told any of his new acquaintances where he came from and his parents moved so that he never saw the neighborhood again.  After a while of drifting, he becomes a policeman and after a couple of years is promoted to the Murder Squad.  Most people think he is English as he has the accent from his years of living there and looks the part. 

Now disaster has struck the same neighborhood again.  A twelve year old girl's body has been found.  It was left on an archaeological dig as a group frantically tries to dig up and preserve the past before a motorway is laid down.  Katherine Devlin is the daughter of a man heading up a group protesting the motorway.  She is a dancer and good enough that she is about to leave to attend the prestigious dance school in London.  Her body is found on an old alter.  Who would kill such a young girl?

Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox have a multitude of possibilities.  Was she the victim of a sex crime?  Was it someone who wanted to cripple her father's fight against the motorway?  Was there family discord?  Was this an adolescent fight that got out of hand?  Was one of the money men behind the road involved?  The detectives talked to everyone but nothing seems to break.  Items that seemed like possibilities ended in dead ends.  Can they find the killer?

In The Woods was Tana French's debut novel, and it launched her career as one of the mystery genre's brightest stars.  The characters of the detectives are fully explored with their own insecurities and foibles ruthlessly exposed.  The mystery is complex and the killer, when found, is a chilling individual the reader will not soon forget.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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