French, Tana. In the Woods.

NY: Viking, 2007.

I enjoy reading mysteries — especially police procedurals — set in places outside the U.S. I’ve read books in which the action takes place in Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Thailand, Italy, and Australia, but this is my first experience with Ireland.

Rob Ryan is a detective of middling seniority on the Dublin Murder Squad, partnered with Cassie Maddox, a petite firecracker and the squad’s unofficial profiler because of her university psychology major. Ryan is a morose character with a talent for screwing things up with the best of intentions, but he and Cassie have become the closest of Platonic friends and they work very well together.

And one day a call comes from an archaeological dig adjacent to the suburban community of Knocknaree, alerting them that the body of an adolescent girl has been discovered lying on a Bronze Age altar stone. Cassie grabs the case for them — forgetting that Rob, who grew up in Knocknaree, is himself the only survivor of a multiple murder twenty years before. No one else is aware of that but her and there’s no way their superintendent would allow him anywhere near such a case. But he thinks he’s got a grip on things. Boy, is he wrong.

It’s a complex plot, blending their gradual, painstaking investigation of the new murder with Rob’s attempts to recover the lost memories of his involvement in the case from his childhood. Are they connected? Could the father of the dead girl have been the perpetrator, with his teenage buddies, of the disappearance of young Rob’s friends? The characterizations are deep and multi-faceted and French’s narrative style will hold your attention. It’s so well done, it’s frankly difficult to believe this is her first book. But it’s the first in a series and I’m already lining up the sequels.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Just curious; what do you mean by “shifting my reviewing jones …” in the sidebar? Like your brief review of “In the woods”.

    • As noted in the sidebar, I’ve been writing book reviews all my adult life, as part of being a public librarian, and when I retired, I kept doing it. It was a habit I chose to continue. I have a completely separate website for genealogy, bibliographies, historical research, and such, and for several years, I just posted book reviews there, for whoever happened along. Then they invented WordPress and this seemed a much more rational way of posting them for anyone who was interested. The first eight years’ worth, from the old site, are viewable in the quarterly files at the bottom of the column, back to the turn of this century.


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