In the Woods

In the Woods

Book - 2008
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Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl near a Dublin suburb. The case resonates with similarities to a murder committed twenty years before that involved two children and the young Ryan.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2008
Copyright Date: ©2007
ISBN: 9780143113492
Branch Call Number: FICTION Fre
Description: 429, 18 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

In a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, three children do not return at dark after playing in the 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 account details of the previous hours. Twenty year... Read More »

List - The Snowman
CRRLAdults Oct 29, 2018

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 blo... Read More »

Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl near a Dublin suburb. The case resonates with similarities to a murder committed 20 years before that involved two children and the young Ryan.

A twenty year old cold case is resurrected when a similar murder occurs in the suburbs of Dublin.

“After a 12-year-old Irish lad and his two pals fail to return from a day in the woods, searchers find only the terrified sixth grader--with blood-filled shoes and no memory of what happened. Now 32, the tragedy's sole survivor Rob Ryan is a detective on Dublin's Murder Squad. A current investiga... Read More »

From the critics

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Nov 16, 2020

I was very disappointed - too wordy, confusing at times, and the mystery presented at the beginning of the novel was never answered.

JCLBreAnnaB Oct 31, 2020

Loved the author's efficient descriptions of humanity and interactions - it really draws you in to the characters. Though some of the mystery is resolved, you are still left with some at the end, which I didn't love. Overall I enjoyed her style and as this was the first book I have read of Tana French, I am definitely intrigued to check out more of her mysteries!

Sep 15, 2020

Trying to read this book with reading glasses AND a magnifying glass because the print is so small you know it's time to give up! I really, really tried to stay with reading but it just wasn't worth it. The story is boring, the characters are boring, the descriptions of everything are way to long and the ending is disappointing. I did read through some of the chapters to get the main jest of the book. I wish the author would have stayed with the prologue and not off on another story. You never get the prologue resolved and that is very disappointing.

Sep 12, 2020

Saw the series first and the book added so much more to the back story of emotions. And the writing was a gift, right from the start - smart, lyrical, hero cops with tragic stories that make them better at what they do but so flawed and scarred yet beautiful. I kept making time throughout the day to get another 1/2 chapter or 4 in. You wanted to read it fast so that the detective could finally catch up to where you thing it is going, even though it doesn’t all go there. Cassie’s side story going undercover is not in this novel.

ArapahoeTiegan Sep 02, 2020

Well.. I saw that ending coming. I didn't particularly like Detective Ryan or his way of telling the story. But I'll continue on the read book 2 and see if maybe I can enjoy some of this series.

Aug 24, 2020

Tana French's first Dublin Murder Squad book is a real winner. The lead detective and narrator is the lone survivor of 3 children who went into the wooded area near their home and the other 2 never returned. He has no memory of what happened that day. About 20 years later, another 12 year old girl is found murdered near where his friends disappeared. Are the two cases - the first was never solved - related? Tana French gives us a beautifully written procedural that examines the nature of friendship, love and burrows deep inside the main characters' heads, including lead Detective Rob Ryan, his partner Cassie Maddox and their recently added third wheel, Sam. This is my first time reading a Tana French novel, but there will be others. Highly recommended!

Jul 19, 2020

I found the relationship with the main character and his partner to be too nauseatingly cute-sy. The mysteries had good premise, but didn't carry well and it seems the author may have given herself too many directions to go in without giving satisfactory conclusion. The real strength was in the stylish writing, very descriptive and flowery, so if you like lots of poetic description it's nice in that department. Though the pretty writing doesn't really save this book and I have to agree with other reviews, it does drag longer than it needs.

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.

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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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