RARA-AVIS: In The Woods

From: Patrick King ( abrasax93@yahoo.com)
Date: 23 May 2008

I've just finished one of the best books I've read this year. Irish author, Tana French's first novel, IN THE WOODS, is a very effective amalgam of police procedural and noir. It follows a pair of Dublin detective's, Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox, on the trail of a rape murderer. The victim is an eleven-year-old girl whose body is dumped on an archaeological dig being excavated quickly to make way for highway construction.

French is a lyrical writer which makes her book a pleasure to read even apart from its very eerie and disturbing story. At first I couldn't help but compare Ryan & Maddox to SVU's Benson & Stabler. But French's detectives are much more emotional and complex than the Law & Order duo. Rob Ryan, when he was thirteen, was the only survivor of what appears to have been an abduction/murder of three children in the same woods that are being excavated now.

When I first read the cover flap, I thought 'This is going to be too coincidental to work,' but French pulls it off. Her attention to tiny details makes the characters live in a way that involves the reader. Their at times irrational behavior makes them very true-to-life. And the resolution of the story is right out of breaking news.

I can't think of a critical thing to say about this book. I've already pre-ordered the sequel, THE LIKENESS, due out next month on Amazon. French's style of storytelling is somewhat like Ruth Rendell but her prose moves like music. This woman is a major new voice in crime fiction.

Patrick King


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