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Can't see the woods for the trees...
In the Woods - Tana French
Member Name: jeffjen
In the Woods - Tana French
Date: 04/12/09, updated on 04/12/09 (159 review reads)
Advantages: Well written and an engaging read
Disadvantages: Ending a big let down!
My daughter who is a member of a book swapping site, recently gave me this to read prior to reading it herself. She thought I may like it as I am a big Harlan Coben fan and she thought the plot sounded similar to one of his novels 'The Woods'.
I had not heard of the author Tana Woods prior to reading this book, but she has written a couple of other novels. 'In The Woods' being her first. Tana French lives in Ireland and this novel was published in 2007.
'Murder brings back memories...'
Rob Ryan was 12 years old, when playing in the woods near his home with his two friends one day, something terrible happened.
Rob has suffered memory loss since that fateful day, and all he knows is that he entered the woods with his friends, but only he came back out.
Twenty years on, Rob is now a detective in the Dublin police force. He still has no recollection of what happened in the woods that day, and his friends Peter and Germaine have never been found.
He has changed his name to Adam and no one knows about his past.
Then a little girl's body is found in the woods and Rob is drawn back into the past. For him and his partner, DI Cassie Maddox, every lead comes with sinister undercurrents. The victim's family are hiding some secrets of their own, and Rob's own private enquiries are taking their toll on his mind. Every trail seems to lead back to the woods.
In The Woods is quite a thick book of nearly 600 pages, and I settled down for a good read. In its favour is it is very well written and draws you in from the first page, which is what I like to happen when starting to read a book.
However, about half way through the book I began to realise that not an awful lot was happening. I kept reading, wanting to find out what happened in the woods all those years back, and became aware that I was thinking to myself that maybe the next page, something would happen and things would begin to unravel, but nothing did.
There seemed to be two plots, a modern day murder and the incident 20 years ago and I was sure they would tie-in together somewhere so kept reading.
Two thirds through the book and still nothing of any great significance had happened. Things were mentioned but not followed up, and I found myself beginning to wonder where it was all going to lead and why the author was mentioning certain things but then not going anywhere with them. Parts of the book seemed to be unnecessary filler.
It was clear that the discovery of the body had drawn Rob back into the woods, but it became apparent that I was never going to find out what happened to him 20 years earlier.
I kept reading as I had stuck with it for two thirds of the book, and as I mentioned earlier, it is well written and the charcters well developed. And even though I found myself not caring about the main character of Rob/Adam very much, there is something intriguing about him and I wanted to know what happened in the woods. His relationship with Cassie is interesting and again well written, and there are also a few spooky moments in the woods, which ensured I kept reading and believing something scary and terrible would be revealed soon.
In her favour, Tana French has a talent for writing and has the capability to write a brilliant thriller without a doubt. In The Woods, in my opinion, is not it.
Whilst French is very perceptive and can also inject both suspense and humour into her writing, the plot is let down by the lack of a satisfactory conclusion.
I'd experienced all the usual feelings when reading a good thriller, suspecting one person then another, and trying to guess the ending. The question is, how can you guess the ending when there isn't one?
Maybe some think it is very cleverly written and designed to make you think for yourself. However, if I pick up a book with as interesting a back cover as this, then I want to find out what happened and why.
Much of the book is taken up with Rob's childhood experience and also the threat of something sinister in the woods. As Rob himself wants answers too, you feel sure all will be revealed.
The feeling I was left with by the end of the book was one of frustration.
What could have been a great thriller for me was a big let down. Nearly 600 pages and no conlcusion? You begin the book wondering what happened in the woods 20 years earlier, and you end the book in exactly the same position!
This is not a boring book to read, otherwise I could not have stuck with it all the way through, and this fact is the major reason you are left feeling so frustrated.
It could have been brilliant!
Summary: A superbly written thriller, let down by the lack of closure.