Review 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.
Other reviews that influenced me:
updated to add: Fyrefly loved this book!
and, of course, many many more: Enjoy FyreFly’s awesome blog search to discover them all.