Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: In The Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French

First published: 2007

Star rating:  

It's been two hours since I finished reading. I'm disoriented and emotionally drained, and turns out, home alone on a Sunday. I think my parents told me they were going somewhere but I honestly cannot remember where that somewhere is; I was just that deeply obsessed with reading this book.

In The Woods is too layered to be labelled as a crime-thriller or a mystery. It is not just a guessing-game of who did what to whom. It is an exploration of what this guessing-game does to the people involved, from the ones left behind to deal with the ramifications to the ones responsible for doling out justice - and what better way to do that than tell the story through the eyes of a man who plays both roles at the same time.

In the Woods is a very unusual book. It has this lovely subdued feel to it, which I absolutely loved. It was everything I did not expect - unhurried, reflective, gorgeously written. There are two crimes involved but Tana French does not sensationalize either one. What she does instead, is create complex, real characters and build the dynamics between them. She makes you care about the players and not the game, so even when the whole thing wraps up and the verdict is out, you don't stop caring. You don't forget.

There is a big question-mark at the end that I'm sure will frustrate a lot of readers but I liked that note of incompleteness. I'd rather be left with a question that has room for hope than be left with an answer that is definite and ugly.

This book is not a high-action nail-biter. It is quiet and sad, but I can guarantee that it will linger in your memory way past the last page.

Added bonus: The writing is just wow.

These three children own the summer. They know the wood as surely as they know the microlandscapes of their own grazed knees; put them down blindfolded in any dell or clearing and they could find their way out without putting a foot wrong. This is their territory, and they rule it wild and lordly as young animals; they scramble through its trees and hide-and-seek in its hollows all the endless day long, and all night in their dreams. 
They are running into legend, into sleepover stories and nightmares parents never hear. Down the faint lost paths you would never find alone, skidding round the tumbled stone walls, they stream calls and shoelaces behind them like comet-trails. And who is it waiting on the riverbank with his hands in the willow branches, whose laughter tumbles swaying from a branch high above, whose is the face in the undergrowth in the corner of your eye, built of light and leaf-shadow, there and gone in a blink? 

If this snippet from the prologue doesn't convince you to give this book a try, I don't know what will.

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