In the Woods by Tana French

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The debut novel of an astonishing voice in psychological suspense

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.

Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Tana French

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Tana French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the United States, and Malawi. This is her first book.
Published May 17, 2007 by Penguin Books. 612 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for In the Woods

Kirkus Reviews

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The discovery of a body near a spooky wood forces a murder-squad detective in Ireland to confront his own horrific past, in an engrossing if melancholy debut.

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Publishers Weekly

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A distracting political subplot involves a pending motorway in Knocknaree, but Ryan and Maddox are empathetic and flawed heroes, whose partnership and friendship elevate the narrative beyond a gory tale of murdered children and repressed childhood trauma.

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BC Books

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One Summer night, two decades ago, three missing children: Peter, Jamie and Adam.

Jun 21 2008 | Read Full Review of In the Woods

BC Books

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Reflecting on himself as a boy, Ryan observes, "that relentless child had never stopped spinning in crazy circles on a tire swing, scrambling over a wall after Peter's bright head, vanishing into the wood in a flash of brown legs and laughter."

Jul 01 2008 | Read Full Review of In the Woods


Rob and Peter tagged along and they ran along happily deeper and deeper in the woods, and the last detail Rob remembered was his shoelaces coming undone as he tagged after them, and nothing after that.

Mar 01 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Woods


Teamed with Cassie Maddox - an unlikely member of the Murder Squad due to her sex - they investigate the disappearance of another child missing from the same woods.

Nov 19 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Woods

Book Reporter

When Ryan and Cassie Maddox, his partner and closest friend, are assigned to investigate the killing, it gives Ryan the opportunity not only to solve a high-profile murder but also to investigate what happened to him and his friends on that fateful night long ago.

Jan 24 2011 | Read Full Review of In the Woods

USA Today

Readers who like their hard-boiled police procedurals with an international flair will love Irish author Tana French's debut novel(on sale Monday) Detective Rob Ryan of the Dublin Murder Squad snags a case involving the murder of a young girl.

Jun 05 2008 | Read Full Review of In the Woods


Nothing makes sense despite Cassie, Rob, and Sam’s best efforts (Sam was the third detective on the case to help the two partners — a new trio of sorts which parallels rather nicely with Rob’s original friends).

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Reviewing the Evidence

IN THE WOODS is the kind of book that restores your faith in genre fiction.

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London Review of Books

When people ask why I left UK academe for Brussels, I usually say I came here to escape bureaucracy.

Nov 23 2012 | Read Full Review of In the Woods

New York Magazine

In the Montreal-set film Monsieur Lazhar, a young boy, Simon, trudges into his middle school ahead of other students and opens the door to his classroom.

Apr 07 2012 | Read Full Review of In the Woods

Persephone Magazine

It’s an “easy” read and very entertaining, even more so than her Tudor and Cousins’ War series because you don’t have to remember so many historical characters while you’re reading.

Feb 07 2013 | Read Full Review of In the Woods

Clear Eyes, Full Shelves

This one was a keeper, which led me to purchase another Higashino book, The Devotion of Suspect X.

Aug 23 2012 | Read Full Review of In the Woods

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