Rating: 5 / 5
My introduction to reading Tana French was a buddy read of THE WITCH ELM by Tana French with a Goodreads group. This was in the very early days of my bookstagram and well before starting this blog. There was much that I liked about the book, but as a whole I felt the story dragged and I didn’t love the book overall. Many people told me that it was quite different from her Dublin Murder Squad books and that I should give her another chance so I’ve been planning to do so since then. So long story short, I was motivated to squeeze a few extra mysteries into my March reading and I picked up IN THE WOODS, book one in the Dublin Murder Squad series!
IN THE WOODS begins in a small suburb of Dublin where three children go missing. One is ultimately found, but he can’t remember anything of what happened to his two friends. This young boy becomes Detective Rob Ryan, our central character for the remainder of the book, though his history is only known to his best friend and partner.
In the latest case, a young girl is found murdered and the case has some surprising correlation to Ryan’s own experiences as a boy. He must attempt to confront the memories he has locked away all while seeking answers to this new, sad case. Just as Ryan is keeping secrets from those he works with, the new case has plenty of secrets to uncover and no shortage of suspects.
Those who urged me to give Tana French another shot were absolutely right! I found this mystery to be engaging and well paced which is where I had struggled most with THE WITCH ELM. I really enjoyed Ryan as the lead. He’s coming off a trauma he doesn’t even know about and he’s torn between maintaining the life he’s made for himself and using his history to inform the current case and get justice for the poor murdered girl.
As for the mystery itself, I felt like the author really threw in just enough false leads and extra information to make it feel well fleshed out without feeling padded with extra information just for the heck of it. I have to admit I somehow skipped this book when I was writing my reviews and even though I am writing this two weeks later, the mystery and the characters really stick with me which is always a good sign.
I am very excited to continue on with the series. I’ve heard from a few folks that book two (THE LIKENESS) is their favorite from Tana French, so I’ll be tracking down a copy ASAP!