In the Woods

In the Woods

Book - 2007
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When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods one day with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood. He had no memory of what had happened.

Twenty years on, Rob Ryan - the child who came back - is a detective in the Dublin police force. He's changed his name. No one knows about his past. Then a little girl's body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. Knowing that he would be thrown off the case if his past were revealed, Rob takes a fateful decision to keep quiet but hope that he might also solve the twenty-year-old mystery of the woods.

Publisher: London : Hodder, 2007.
ISBN: 9780340924761
Branch Call Number: FIC Frenc
Characteristics: 596 pages


From the critics

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Apr 16, 2020

In general, I'm not a fan of police procedurals, but when I had to choose a mystery novel for an assignment, my professor suggested In the Woods and I'm so glad she did. The premise is compelling from the start (a detective with only vague memories from a past childhood trauma must solve a similar modern-day murder case ), but it was really the atmospheric descriptions of Dublin and complex, empathetic characters that drew me in and kept me reading.

This isn't a fast-paced novel (prepare for lots of moody introspection from the main character and the occasional distracting side plot), but it's beautifully written and left me wanting more. I quickly moved on to the next book in Dublin Murder Squad series after finishing In the Woods, and I'd highly recommend it to fans of literary fiction looking for an entry into the mystery genre.

Mar 01, 2020


Feb 06, 2020

*possible spoiler alert*
Like many others, I was very disappointed with the ending. So much time is invested in this huge mysterious disappearance, and does such a good job at making you feel a chill, only to never actually finding out what happened. I'll be thinking about this for weeks and not in a good way. I enjoyed the characters. The book was a little long winded but still enjoyable to read, except that ending. I feel ripped off.

Jan 12, 2020

Tana’s first Dublin Murder Squad book.

Oct 31, 2019

This book is beyond slow and drags on. It did not need to be so long at all. The mystery kept me reading but many times I wanted to stop because it did not hold my attention well.
I actually did like the main character, but did not like that everything ended so disastrously for him.

Don't even get me started on the ending with no conclusion to the initial mystery...

Aug 18, 2019

The mystery itself was intriguing, beautifully written, but she forgot to write the ending! It's not like I expect "and they all lived happily ever after," but I DO expect that the author will resolve the main story lines in the novel...….otherwise, why bring them into the plot at all?! (Okay, okay, I realize we found out who the murderer was, but...…..) As well, I wonder if it was a good idea to have the conflicted, damaged hero of the story TELLING the story. I really felt robbed when the book ended with such an anticlimactic "ending."

Jul 27, 2019

Wow, really enjoyed this book. Sure, it's a murder mystery, but what it had to say about memory, loss, family, damage, and love really made it special. I loved the Ireland setting, and how modern day Dublin seemed progressive and stuck in time all at once. I've already ordered the next one, The Likeness. I wonder if it will make me stay up way too late for a couple of consecutive nights too...

Jul 10, 2019

I gave up on this audiobook, she's just too long winded - the kind that causes me to lose interest. IMO Michael Connelly is the absolute best at telling a mystery or crime, his descriptions hold me interest.

Jul 04, 2019

The ending was extremely disappointing. I think that Tana is a bit long winded, although actually a very good writer who totally sucks her readers in, but the reader also has to invest a lot of emotional energy into reading her books, and then for the ending of this mystery to be unsolved was really a letdown to me.

Jun 16, 2019

Bit of a spoiler, warning:

Enjoyed it for the most part except that it wasn't very subtle about constantly reminding us that the friendship/relatiopship was just too good to last, and the ways he destroys it at the end doesn't jell with his character as it has been built up.

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Age Suitability

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May 15, 2019

crystalpatterson thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Apr 05, 2017

gobula thinks this title is suitable for 2 years and under

Jul 27, 2016

BWilsoned thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Kristen MERKE
Jul 02, 2013

Kristen MERKE thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Summary
Jul 25, 2017

This book wasn't quite what I was expecting--it was far more.

French writes with a taut, well-paced style. The story begins with several potential areas of tension: male and female detective partners; a detective who is hiding his true identity because of a childhood trauma; and a murder to solve that has taken place at the site of that childhood trauma. And the author pulls and works each of these strands in the a very taut rope.

Because the story is told in first-person—Detective Rob Ryan is living with the aftermath of a childhood trauma—the reader sees and hears everything he does. But we also see how his mind works. More interestingly, we watch his mind unravel. But French's writing is so tightly paced that the reader is sliding down the treacherous slope with Rob Ryan before we realize it.

Detective Ryan’s story begins as a typical detective investigation, with only a few phrases suggesting he is telling this story from a point in the future. But as the murder investigation continues, the tension between Ryan and his partner builds. This becomes more apparent in Ryan’s telling, as he begins adding more information about their relationship and the changes he begins to recognize after the case.

As the case reaches its tense conclusion, Ryan’s voice becomes a tight balance between distraught and resigned. And the reader cannot put the book down until knowing how the story turns out.

As the investigation concludes, the reader is as exhausted as the investigators. The final chapter is Ryan’s “now.” He is looking back with all the awareness of hindsight, filled with sadness, self-loathing, and resignation.

This reader was left feeling overwhelmed by the emotions in these characters as well as the self-absorption most humans go through life with. One of the most amazing “whodunits” I’ve ever read.

Feb 23, 2011

loved it, a dark mystery with characters i enjoyed reading about. A detective who was the sole surviver of a abuduction of two of his other friends, investigates a murder that took place in the same location 25 years later. Haunting and lonely- you won't like the ending.


Add Notices
May 15, 2019

Other: mention of child rape


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Aug 14, 2010

"Don't step on anything that looks like archaeology."

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