In the Woods is the first novel in a series called The Dublin Murder Squad. Set in Ireland near Dublin in a small village called Knocknerie, the book focuses on Detective Adam Ryan. When Ryan was a boy, he went out into the woods with his two friends Jamie and Peter. His friends disappeared from the wood that day and Ryan was left with blood in his shoe and absolutely no memory of what happened. Fast forward to today and Ryan is a detective in the murder squad. The only person he has shared his past with is his partner Detective Cassie Maddox. One day Cassie and Adam are called back to the village of Knocknerie because a young girl’s body had been discovered on an altar stone during an archaeological dig. Over the next month or so and the entire rest of the book, the investigation goes on to find the young girl’s killer. During the coarse of the investigation, one of the theories is that this case might be related to the 1984 missing children case that Ryan survived as a boy. In visiting people for questioning, Ryan is faced with having to relive the horrific moment from his childhood while in the meantime trying to resurface any memories of that day in the wood.
Not only is this book a murder mystery, it is also an introspective look at Ryan and his past. There are also hints of a relationship between Adam and Cassie. Throughout most of the novel, they are just close friends, but you can tell that there may be at least a desire for more than just a friendship and professional partnership. One of the more interesting aspects of the book is the exploration of psychopaths. They are not necessarily cold blooded killers as you might think, but actually they practice a specific form of manipulation. Psychopaths don’t display empathy or fear, they could easily pass a lie detector test, but they can easily manipulate people into doing their bidding.
Overall, I would say this book had its moments. It may be a little too long, but I definitely liked it better than The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Apparently, Tana French made the decision not to stay with the same characters throughout the series. I believe the next book focuses on Cassie and Adam Ryan isn’t in it at all while the third book isn’t about either of them. I liked the book and would give it about 3 stars.
For another take on In The Woods, check out Jen’s review as well.