Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Crossover Book Review: In the Woods

I'm always in the market for a good mystery, so when Tana French's In the Woods won a 2008 Edgar Award for best first novel by an American author, I ordered it right away from audible.* From the first pages I knew In the Woods is a novel teen readers will love as well.

Rob Ryan is a young detective on the Dublin murder squad. When the body of a 12-year-old girl is found in the woods outside Dublin, he's called to investigate. The situation is eerily familiar to Ryan: When he was twelve he also disappeared in the same woods with two friends. When he was found, he was covered in blood and had no memory of what happened. His two friends never returned.

Now, obviously, Ryan should have removed himself from this case, but finds he can't. He begs his partner--the wonderful Cassie Maddox--to keep his secret in the hopes that his past will help them to solve the case. While investigating Ryan is haunted by partial memories, neighbors from his past, and faulty judgment. As a reader, you don't trust Ryan, who narrates In the Woods, from the very beginning. You do, however, find his motivations and story undeniably compelling.

Dark fairy tale themes and the unreliability of childhood memories haunt Ryan and In the Woods, making this a mystery teens will love. The detectives are young and live young lives--solving cases together while eating and drinking well into the night. Ryan's partner, Maddox, is a kickass heroine--smart, hardworking, and tough. And the victim, a young ballerina, and her family will appeal to young readers, especially when compared to our hopelessly unreliable narrator.

Best of all? I thought I had In the Woods all figured out by the time I was halfway through reading. But I wanted to finish this mystery anyway because of the interesting characters and narration. The bonus? I was completely wrong in my armchair sleuthing. In the Woods is highly recommended for readers ages fourteen and up.
*What is going on with audible and audiobooks these days? None of the new books I want are coming up on audible or on iTunes. No new Rick Riordan for the little one and I have a list of about 15 books recently released I want to read and not one of them is available. Where is that reader's bill of rights? I want to choose audio or text format for each and every book I buy. I mean it.
And, Tana...if you ever stumble upon this post...I hope your next book will star Cassie Maddox on the domestic abuse squad.