You know me - I usually don't go for big-hype books. But the titles and blurbs from Tana French's books held a fair level of intrigue for me. So I gave In the Woods, the first title in her crime series a spin.
Wow. I can't remember the last time that a book felt so complete, like it hit every single literary sweet spot I ever had. Childhood trauma and broken memories, a possibly haunted forest, small-town secrets in the past and the present, family dysfunction, the ruin of the idyllic summer, and...oh. a possibly haunted forest. With an ancient celtic altar.
Like I said, wow. That would have been enough, but this book just kept on giving. The prose was absolutely, positively beautiful. Even though this is ostensibly a story about the disappearance of a young girl, a rising star in her town, there was such a glow over everything in how it was all described, that made the darkest elements of the book (and they are dark, and my god, original) that much darker.
I love how the investigation had so many possibilities, and not all of them grounded in the natural world. It was wonderful to see the forest and what happened to Det. Ryan as a child treated with such tight ambiguity. Yes, of course I would have loved more, but it was delicious and done with a deliberate and deft hand.
I was so invested in both of the primary detectives, both in terms of their investigation and in terms of their personal lives and histories, and their relationships with each other - I still am, given that it's an ongoing series. My only complaint is that I didn't get as much closure as I wanted at the end of the book. Again, it's an ongoing series, so I get that certain things will be left undone, but there were things that were left undone that gave the impression that they would never be done, and that was unsatisfying. Only time will tell, but my disappointment in the last eighth of the book (really it was just the very very end that was a letdown for me) was a function of how invested I had been from the very beginning. Despite coming away unhappy, I can't do anything but recommend this book very highly.
K. Rating: 4.5/5