Review: In the Woods

Review itwbtf In the Woods by Tana French, Penguin Books 2007, 429 pages.    An Edgar Award Winner (Best First Novel by an American Author)

MOTIVATION FOR READING:     For book club (meeting TODAY!)     I suggested this – not sure why exactly it came to mind at that moment to be honest;   when someone asked “What book to read next?”  and after a few suggestions that had already been read by some or another.     At first I sug’d The Likeness (French’s second book, recently released) because I wasn’t sure which came first.    No one had heard of either and all seemed eager to try a thriller/mystery.

I was intrigued by this winning the Edgar – how does a new author write a winner set in another country?  Maybe it happens all the time – I don’t know.    I am intrigued by Tana French:    she grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi.     Huh.

WHAT IT’s ABOUT:     A police detective who escaped a terrifying childhood event of which he has few to no memories is assigned a case of a murdered child found in the very same place he grew up.   He has a partner that is awesome.

WHAT’s GOOD:     The language, the descriptions of setting and mood are vivid and unsettling.   The characters are wonderfully complicated and more than likable.    Yet again,   it’s unsettling.

WHAT’s NOT so GOOD:    I have only extremely minor complaints; one is my own personal non-relatableness to the word ‘tracksuit’.    It was used often enough that I kept asking myself ‘What the huh?   who says ‘tracksuit’?   I just don’t use the word and for an American author – it bugged me for some odd reason.      The other complaint is **** POSSIBLE SPOILER MAYBE!  DO NOT READ NEXT SENTENCE! ****  the dropping of the huge hint about the possible murder weapon and then ignoring it for about 100 pages.   It was clumsy and noticeable.     That sounds way harsher than I mean it to but if I stop and think about something as to plot device in a murder story I tend to get a bit critical.    I want to be totally absorbed and sucked in when I read a thriller.

On the other hand, I don’t mind stopping to admire beautiful language and French delivers on this very well.

And then there’s the whole ending thing.     I’m sure it will be talked about today at club.

I rate this a high FOUR PIE.fourpie

Other reviews that influenced me:

Trish at Hey Lady!
Raych at books I done read
Stephanie’s Written Word

updated to add:   Fyrefly loved this book!

and, of course, many many more:    Enjoy FyreFly’s awesome blog search to discover them all.

17 Responses to “Review: In the Woods”


  1. 1 Dorte H May 14, 2009 at 9:31 am

    I also enjoyed In the Woods in spite of a few shortcomings. Many people have been annoyed with the very unreliable narrator, and so was I, to some extent, but I think it is important to regard this story as a mix between police procedural and psychological thriller.

    GREAT COMMENT! yes, thanks for the distinction.

  2. 2 Christina May 14, 2009 at 10:12 am

    I was hoping you’d say it had something to do with fairy tales. Unless there’s a gingerbread house involved I refuse to read this. Actually, I’m rather intrigued and it sounds to be on the same line of thinking with “The Double Bind”, so I guess I’m putting in a request at the library.

    Well, if there’s a fairy tale – it would be a very creepy one!

  3. 3 Jessica May 14, 2009 at 11:31 am

    I hope you come back and update with what your book club had to say about things. I’ve heard really great things about this book (most enthusiastically from Raych), and I ended up buying it for my mother-in-law. I’m also considering recommending it to my book club, so let me know whether your book club enjoyed it, or at least had a good discussion. Thanks for the review!

    Actually, we almost forgot to discuss the main crime in the book and discussed quite a bit about the characters. Only one person wasn’t thrilled with the book and most had strong reactions to it – good sign that the author was successful?

  4. 4 jennysbooks May 14, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I enjoyed In the Woods a lot – glad you did too. And thanks so much for the link to the book blogs search engine, which is total GENIUS.

    Thank Fyrefly for the search engine – it’s awesome!

  5. 5 bermudaonion May 14, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    This is in my TBR pile and I’m looking forward to reading it. It will be my first experience with Tana French.

    Hope you like it!

  6. 6 Bookfool, aka Nancy May 14, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    I’ve seen loads of rave reviews about this book and I still can’t talk myself into bothering to look for a copy. I guess it’s just the old, “Not into murder” thing.

    The tracksuit comment had me chuckling. Is there such a thing as a tracksuit, anymore? That seems kind of 80s, to me.

    If you’re not into murder, that’s fine. After the book discussion, I was actually wondering if I really did like it as much as I thought I did. But I’ll stick with my rating.

  7. 7 chartroose May 14, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Now I’m going to have to read THIS too! Will the torture never end?

    Oh, and tracksuit, tracksuit, tracksuit!

    LOL!!

  8. 8 chartroose May 14, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    TRACKSUIT!!!

    Had enough? Mwahahahahahahahahha!

    Yes! make it stop!!!!

  9. 9 trish May 15, 2009 at 12:05 am

    The Likeness is even better, I promise. It will blow your mind. And you get a little more juice on Rob and Cassie. I would offer to have Tana French’s babies…if only she were a he.

    I think the club will assign this for a Fall read. I see that some people have liked the first book better but not by much. I’m looking forward to more of Cassie.

  10. 10 Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) May 15, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I haven’t read any of Tana French yet, but she is on the list…someday I will get to them

  11. 11 curlywurlygurly May 15, 2009 at 10:55 am

    i’ve read about this book in so many places–it’s viral! i can’t wait to get my paws on a copy. :)

    nat @ book, line, and sinker

    Hey Nat! Do you want me to mail it to you!? I’d be glad to. I’ll e/m ya…

  12. 12 Joanne (The Book Zombie) May 15, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    Looks like your bookclub is going well for you – congrats on your suggested book being chosen! Why haven’t I read this book yet? It sounds great, and I coulda swore I had it on a list somewhere.

    Oh and I really like this review format – I so didn’t make the WG deadline last week – but I am going to steal your format for when I do finally get it done :)

    You are going to steal this format? wow – I did it on the fly; not much thought given to it at all! thx for the compliment.

  13. 13 iliana May 15, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I absolutely loved In The Woods and really liked The Likeness too. I can’t wait until she comes out with her new book, which I believe is supposed to be later this year.

    You know I don’t even remember the possible murder weapon issue. I think I was just blown away by the ending. It took me a few days to digest it and see if I liked it or not. In the end I did :)

    I am looking forward to reading The Likeness, too. Do we know anything about the third book? The ending… It was almost the end of our book club meeting when we realized we hadn’t even discussed the main crime! We only talked about Rob and all his issues…

  14. 14 Dawn May 18, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    IN THE WOODS is on my “read … some day” list. Not on my shelf yet, and not chomping at the bit to go out and get it. But I will … some day.

    re: tracksuit. when is the book set? This word sounds very late 70s/early 80s to me.

    Nope, the setting is now. Must be an Irish thing. and thanks for agreeing with me!


  1. 1 Tana French – In the Woods « Fyrefly’s Book Blog Trackback on October 22, 2009 at 11:42 am
  2. 2 In the Woods by Tana French « Regular Rumination Trackback on March 11, 2010 at 10:49 am
  3. 3 #275 ~ In The Woods : literatehousewife.com Trackback on August 12, 2010 at 5:05 am

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