A child found against a tree, his shoes pooled with blood, and his two best friends missing without a trace is the childhood story of Adam Ryan.
In a story filled with unexpected twists and personal challenges, Tana French’s “In the Woods” follows a man’s detective career that unexpectedly crosses his childhood nightmare.
When a young girl’s remains are found in approximately the same spot that Ryan was discovered years ago, both cases are opened to new discoveries. French forces the characters to relive their biggest fears while trying to overcome a complicated case.
The family of the girl is characterized in a negative light, following the guidelines for guilt. But the added interactions between the family and the detectives create issues that complicate the case further.
The characterization of Ryan, and his best friend Cassie, enhances the storyline, generating a complicated landscape that he must traverse. Ryan is faced with discovering his past, as he cannot remember anything about the incident, and also his personal relationship with Cassie.
French creates a story that combines multiple perspectives of the case from professional detectives to inexperienced citizens. This creation makes the novel flow, with a sense of unreality concerning the past case and suspense surrounding the most recent one.
In the style of a traditional murder mystery, the investigation is conducted. But the additional suspense of Ryan possibly discovering the truth to his childhood generates fake leads on characters that could possibly be involved.
French adequately draws the reader into a guess and check system, trying to figure out exactly what happened and who could be responsible.
Nuances of guilt are placed throughout, but French never explicitly assigns guilt like some mystery authors.
Paralleled with the case is the relationship between Ryan and Cassie, causing a further complication. French places them in awkward positions, challenging their friendship and even their jobs.
This novel does not satisfy the readers in terms of discovery, and unlike other murder mystery novels, the cases are not necessarily completely solved. As it unfolds, uncertainty mounts and the characters are faced with further confusion.
In an extremely well written and outside-the-norm novel, French delves into a cold case, along with a new one; one of which will never be solved.
Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at email@example.com.