The Tangled Mysteries of Tana French’s In the Woods : A Book Review
By Rifa Andini / Bnusian 2014
In the Woods tells the story of a detective named Rob Ryan who has to investigate a murder that reminds him of his dark past. Twenty years before the murder of a little girl named Katy in Knocknaree, Rob’s childhood friends mysteriously disappeared in the woods of the same little town. Rob, who was with the two missing children in the woods, was found with no memory of what happened to his friends. Strange, isn’t it? Now, Rob must go back to Knocknaree to investigate the murder case, which is just as strange as the disappearance, and fight the trauma that is caused by the lost memories of the woods.
This book is included on almost every list of recommended books for Gone Girl fans that I’ve seen. Well, it does have some similarities with Gone Girl. Like Gone Girl, the point of view from which the story is told is very influential in In the Woods. This book also has a shocking revelation at the end, which is pretty similar to that crazy twist in Gone Girl. Besides Gone Girl, there are some parts of this story that remind me of Pretty Little Liars. I also have a theory about the unsolved mystery in this book that is inspired by an old movie starring Andrew Garfield called Boy A (which is about two children who murder their classmate without even knowing what they have done).
My favorite thing about this book is how it lets readers dive into the detectives’ world. The author gives vivid, sometimes eerie, descriptions of the police procedures. They gave me an amazing detective experience. The most fascinating yet creepy part of the police procedures that are described by Miss French in this novel for me is the autopsy scene. She describes Katy’s autopsy results through a character named Cooper and, man, the descriptions are so vivid! They created very clear images of the dead body in my head which gave me nausea. I could also feel the detectives’ frustration about the case. They found so many suspicious things but they lead them to nowhere! That got me flipping the pages brutally because I was so desperate to know the truth. I got a little confused by the leads that are related to the government and the politicians, though.
The one thing that surprised me more than the revelation of Katy’s murderer is the fact that one of biggest mysteries of the story remains unsolved until the end. This just keeps me wondering, what’s the purpose of putting the mystery in the story if it’s not going to be solved? I assume that the purpose is to show the psychological aspects of Rob; to show how the trauma of losing his friends affects and ruins him. He seems like a solid character at the beginning, but when his judgment starts to get clouded by his trauma and feelings, he turns into a huge mess. Maybe that is the reason why detectives with emotional connection to a case must not be allowed to handle the case. Anyways, I think it would be very nice to know the truth about the unsolved mystery; it will give us, readers, a closure.
This book also has some interesting characters. Rob is the main character and the narrator of the story. When I started reading the book, I liked and trusted him. In fact, I felt related to him. But, as the story goes on, he changes a lot. As I said before, he gets twisted by his trauma. When I was close to the end of the story, I just didn’t know who he was anymore. I still feel bad for him, though. Meanwhile, Rob’s partner, Cassie Maddox, is such a cool character. She is smart and sensitive and strong. I’m so excited to read the sequel of this book because it is told from Cassie’s POV (it’s about a different case, though). And yes, there is an Amy Dunne in this story, people! Prepare yourself for her! I think the psychopath in this story resembles not only Amy Dunne from Gone Girl, but also Alison DiLaurentis from Pretty Little Liars.
So, I think this book is a great one. It’s recommended not only for fans of Gone Girl, but also fans of crime fiction, psychological thriller, and Pretty Little Liars.
You can follow more of Rifa’s reviews at : http://lostinyourstories.blogspot.com/2015/06/getting-twisted-by-two-mysteries-of.html?spref=fb
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