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In The Woods

Updated: Sep 21, 2021

An amazing psychological thriller with descriptive writing and well-developed characters



Rob Ryan is a detective with the murder-squad in Dublin, Ireland. Only a handful of people know that Ryan himself was at the center of one of the most perplexing unsolved cases in recent Irish history. At the age of 12 then known as Adam Ryan, he and two playmates wandered into the woods near his home in the town of Knocknaree to play. Hours after being reported missing, Adam was found unhurt but standing in a pair of blood-soaked sneakers so deeply traumatized that he could not recall a single detail of what had happened. The two other children were never found.

Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox are now investigating a murder of a young girl, Katy Devlin, that took place in the very same woods. Those woods are currently the sight of an archeological dig with pending plans for a major highway project. Ryan’s long repressed anxieties and memories are resurrected during the investigation of Katy’s brutal murder. With this recall Ryan risks losing everything—his professional reputation, his closest friendships and even his mental well-being.

“Maybe she, like me, would have loved the tiny details and inconveniences even more dearly than the wonders, because they are the things that prove you belong.“

“I know I said that I always choose the anti-climactic over the irrevocable, and yes of course what I meant was that I have always been a coward, but I lied: not always, there was that night, there was that one time.”


I loved this book, particularly the descriptive writing and the immensely well developed characters. The fact that it is a two prong mystery was like getting two cherries on top of my hot fudge sundae. It a top notch mystery, an amazing phycological thriller, and written with a nod to literary fiction.

Both Cassie and Rob have issues all their own, which creates a connection between the two of them, as well as the reader. Their weaknesses, honesty and openness makes them come alive on the pages of this fascinating read. The dynamic between the two of them as partners was enjoyable. Rob serves us well as the narrator, albeit an unreliable narrator for this gratifying novel.

Author Tana French worked with a retired detective to research police procedures, partner dynamics and power plays to make this debut novel as real as possible. She did well! French, an well-known actress was at work on an archaeological dig between acting gigs when she saw something that inspired this Edgar – winning 2007 debut novel.

Love the narrator of this audiobook. Thanks to my friend Susan Burgess for making me read this delightful book!

“For a moment, I felt as if the universe had turned upside down and we were falling softly into an enormous black bowl of stars, and I knew, beyond any doubt, that everything was going to be all right.“

Publisher Viking

Published January 30, 2007

Narrated Steven Crossley

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