Book Review: In the Woods by Tana French

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)

From GoodReads: 
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.
Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.


More than two decades ago, three inseparable friends Peter, Jamie and Adam spent their summer vacation playing in the woods near their small suburban community. 

When they didn't come home one night for supper, a search party formed as darkness fell. Finally, 12 year old Adam was found standing in blood soaked shoes and clutching a tree. He was in a paranoid state of shock and recalls nothing about what happened in the woods. Despite best efforts and months of searching, there is no sign of Jamie or Peter. No evidence, no clues, no bodies...They have vanished. 
Fast forward to  present day Adam is a police detective. Operating under his middle name, Ryan, he is on Dublin's murder squad. He is uneasy about being called back to his hometown to investigate the murder of a 12 year old girl, but refuses to let his captain in on the secrets of his past. The victim, Katy Devlin, is found on an archaeological dig site very near the exact woods that detective Ryan's best friends went missing. As soon as the investigation begins, the similarities between this case and the case that detective Ryan experienced are eerily similar. Being back in the woods forces him to recall events that he hasn't been able to remember since that fateful day. As more and more memories come back to him, he starts to believe he might remember something useful...but he soon realizes that some memories are best left distant and foggy. 

The author, Tana French, does a wonderful job of painting the picture of what it was like to grow up near the woods playing as best friends. She also writes about the case and potential suspects fluently and the case progresses smoothly, so it's easy to follow along. 

 I loved the way that the book all came together in the end. The middle part of the book seemed to drag on a little to much for me. There is a lot of time spent describing some of the police procedural scenes. There is also a lot time spent detailing the history and friendship between detective Ryan and his partner Cassie.But at the end of the day, you don't have all the answers you want.  There are a lot of details and story lines in the middle of the book that drag on and aren't resolved at the end, so it seemed a little pointless.

Overall, I give this book a glass half full. The slow part in the middle of the book had me leaning towards half empty, but the ending tipped me the other way.  It keeps you guessing. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries and police procedure books!