In Tana French’s psychological thriller, In the Woods, Detective Ryan compares the truth to “the most desirable woman in the world” and calls humans “the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her.” It’s beautifully said and brilliantly demonstrated throughout the novel. The criminals lie to the police, trying to avoid prosecution—obviously; the police lie to the criminals in order to get their confessions; the detectives withhold the truth from their superiors so they can stay on the case that they’re assigned to investigate… And so it goes, lies and truth intertwined.
For some, though, “the truth can set us free,” as they say. When he was twelve, Det. Ryan witnessed the disappearance of his two best friends, but when he was found in the woods, in shock, with blood in his shoes, he had no memory of what exactly had happened. His friends vanished without a trace. Now, twenty years later, he’s hoping that the murder of a twelve-year-old girl, in the same place in the woods, will trigger a recollection of his own tragedy.
The novel’s ending is quite upsetting, but realistic. It’s the first one in the series about Detective Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox, and it won numerous awards. I love the writing (achingly beautiful), the characters (intelligent, tough, savvy, but with flaws), and the gripping plot, with twists and turns.
Tana French is an extremely talented writer. I highly recommend her novels. I’ve started her second one in the series, The Likeness, and I’m hooked from page one.