In the Woods

In the Woods

Book - 2007
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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 .
Publisher: New York : Viking, 2007.
Edition: First American edition
ISBN: 9780670038602
Branch Call Number: FRENCH T
Characteristics: 429 pages ; 24 cm.


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From Library Staff

In the summer of 1984 in Dublin, three children go missing. The police find one child, terrified, and wearing sneakers filled with blood, but no memory of the days events. 20 years later, the found boy is a detective on the Dublin Murder squad, and when a case of his bears resemblance to his own ... Read More »

From the critics

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Apr 16, 2020

In general, I'm not a fan of police procedurals, but when I had to choose a mystery novel for an assignment, my professor suggested In the Woods and I'm so glad she did. The premise is compelling from the start (a detective with only vague memories from a past childhood trauma must solve a similar modern-day murder case ), but it was really the atmospheric descriptions of Dublin and complex, empathetic characters that drew me in and kept me reading.

This isn't a fast-paced novel (prepare for lots of moody introspection from the main character and the occasional distracting side plot), but it's beautifully written and left me wanting more. I quickly moved on to the next book in Dublin Murder Squad series after finishing In the Woods, and I'd highly recommend it to fans of literary fiction looking for an entry into the mystery genre.

Mar 01, 2020


Feb 06, 2020

*possible spoiler alert*
Like many others, I was very disappointed with the ending. So much time is invested in this huge mysterious disappearance, and does such a good job at making you feel a chill, only to never actually finding out what happened. I'll be thinking about this for weeks and not in a good way. I enjoyed the characters. The book was a little long winded but still enjoyable to read, except that ending. I feel ripped off.

Jan 12, 2020

Tana’s first Dublin Murder Squad book.

Oct 31, 2019

This book is beyond slow and drags on. It did not need to be so long at all. The mystery kept me reading but many times I wanted to stop because it did not hold my attention well.
I actually did like the main character, but did not like that everything ended so disastrously for him.

Don't even get me started on the ending with no conclusion to the initial mystery...

Aug 18, 2019

The mystery itself was intriguing, beautifully written, but she forgot to write the ending! It's not like I expect "and they all lived happily ever after," but I DO expect that the author will resolve the main story lines in the novel...….otherwise, why bring them into the plot at all?! (Okay, okay, I realize we found out who the murderer was, but...…..) As well, I wonder if it was a good idea to have the conflicted, damaged hero of the story TELLING the story. I really felt robbed when the book ended with such an anticlimactic "ending."

Jul 27, 2019

Wow, really enjoyed this book. Sure, it's a murder mystery, but what it had to say about memory, loss, family, damage, and love really made it special. I loved the Ireland setting, and how modern day Dublin seemed progressive and stuck in time all at once. I've already ordered the next one, The Likeness. I wonder if it will make me stay up way too late for a couple of consecutive nights too...

Jul 10, 2019

I gave up on this audiobook, she's just too long winded - the kind that causes me to lose interest. IMO Michael Connelly is the absolute best at telling a mystery or crime, his descriptions hold me interest.

Jul 04, 2019

The ending was extremely disappointing. I think that Tana is a bit long winded, although actually a very good writer who totally sucks her readers in, but the reader also has to invest a lot of emotional energy into reading her books, and then for the ending of this mystery to be unsolved was really a letdown to me.

Jun 16, 2019

Bit of a spoiler, warning:

Enjoyed it for the most part except that it wasn't very subtle about constantly reminding us that the friendship/relatiopship was just too good to last, and the ways he destroys it at the end doesn't jell with his character as it has been built up.

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Add Age Suitability
May 15, 2019

crystalpatterson thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Apr 05, 2017

gobula thinks this title is suitable for 2 years and under

Jul 27, 2016

BWilsoned thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

Kristen MERKE
Jul 02, 2013

Kristen MERKE thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


Add a Summary
Jul 25, 2017

This book wasn't quite what I was expecting--it was far more.

French writes with a taut, well-paced style. The story begins with several potential areas of tension: male and female detective partners; a detective who is hiding his true identity because of a childhood trauma; and a murder to solve that has taken place at the site of that childhood trauma. And the author pulls and works each of these strands in the a very taut rope.

Because the story is told in first-person—Detective Rob Ryan is living with the aftermath of a childhood trauma—the reader sees and hears everything he does. But we also see how his mind works. More interestingly, we watch his mind unravel. But French's writing is so tightly paced that the reader is sliding down the treacherous slope with Rob Ryan before we realize it.

Detective Ryan’s story begins as a typical detective investigation, with only a few phrases suggesting he is telling this story from a point in the future. But as the murder investigation continues, the tension between Ryan and his partner builds. This becomes more apparent in Ryan’s telling, as he begins adding more information about their relationship and the changes he begins to recognize after the case.

As the case reaches its tense conclusion, Ryan’s voice becomes a tight balance between distraught and resigned. And the reader cannot put the book down until knowing how the story turns out.

As the investigation concludes, the reader is as exhausted as the investigators. The final chapter is Ryan’s “now.” He is looking back with all the awareness of hindsight, filled with sadness, self-loathing, and resignation.

This reader was left feeling overwhelmed by the emotions in these characters as well as the self-absorption most humans go through life with. One of the most amazing “whodunits” I’ve ever read.

Feb 23, 2011

loved it, a dark mystery with characters i enjoyed reading about. A detective who was the sole surviver of a abuduction of two of his other friends, investigates a murder that took place in the same location 25 years later. Haunting and lonely- you won't like the ending.


Add Notices
May 15, 2019

Other: mention of child rape


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Aug 14, 2010

"Don't step on anything that looks like archaeology."

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