• In the Woods

  • A Novel
  • By: Tana French
  • Narrated by: Steven Crossley
  • Length: 20 hrs and 24 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (17,019 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling debut, with over a million copies sold, that launched Tana French, author of The Witch Elm and "the most important crime novelist to emerge in the past 10 years" (The Washington Post).

"Required reading for anyone who appreciates tough, unflinching intelligence and ingenious plotting." (The New York Times)

Now airing as a Starz series.

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a 12-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox - his partner and closest friend - find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

Richly atmospheric and stunning in its complexity, In the Woods is utterly convincing and surprising to the end.

©2007 Tana French (P)2007 Penguin Audio, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[An] ambitious and extraordinary first novel...rank it high." (The Washington Post)

"Part whodunit, part psychological thriller, and wholly successful...French’s plot twists and turns will bamboozle even the most astute reader.... A well-written, expertly plotted thriller." (NPR) 

"In the Woods is as creepily imaginative as it gets." (USA Today)    

Featured Article: Best Mystery Series—Listens That'll Take You Right to the Crime Scene


While a standalone mystery is great when you're in the mood for a one-and-done, sometimes you want to feed your craving with an entire mystery series—knowing there's a world and characters you can keep coming back to for the satisfaction of solving crimes. With audiobooks, you get the added bonus of sinking deeper into the setting, clues, and suspects as the story is performed for you, so you'll feel like you're alongside detectives, ready to bust a case.

What listeners say about In the Woods

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    7,415
  • 4 Stars
    5,757
  • 3 Stars
    2,653
  • 2 Stars
    773
  • 1 Stars
    421
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    8,011
  • 4 Stars
    3,975
  • 3 Stars
    1,345
  • 2 Stars
    374
  • 1 Stars
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Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    6,098
  • 4 Stars
    4,400
  • 3 Stars
    2,235
  • 2 Stars
    743
  • 1 Stars
    426

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Detection with a Difference

In the Woods is a police procedural on the surface. A girl is murdered, and the protagonist and his partner try to find the killer. Underneath, however, it's the story of that protagonist, Detective Rob Ryan, and his attempts to know and overcome his own buried memories.

On the procedural front, there's everything a reader would expect from a modern detective novel: squad-room characters, a grumpy supervisor, the working relationship of Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox. There is also suspense, some red herrings, some authentic leads, and an investigation that gives readers a look into the political and personal worlds of the suburb where the murder takes place.

By itself, this would have been satisfying enough, but In the Woods goes a step further. Rob Ryan, like many other modern detectives, has an ongoing problem. Inspector Morse had alcohol, Barbara Havers has her weight and shyness, but Rob Ryan's in a worse spot: he knows he escaped a horrible situation that presumably killed two of his childhood friends.

But unlike other detectives' problems, this one doesn't just get in Rob's way as he tries to solve the crime: his psychological state is the major part of the story. Parts of In the Woods are therefore quite depressing. Sometimes you want to strangle the guy--why did he DO that? What the heck is wrong with him? And then you remember: after what happened to him, he can't be all there.

In the Woods doesn't offer easy answers to this major story arc. For that, I applaud the author, because trauma that deep can't be solved with a sudden, triggered breakthrough. There's a start toward normality for Rob, but it's only a start.

I wouldn't mind seeing Rob again, but I don't expect him to be more normal next time. If anything, he might be in worse shape. The narrator did a fine job, with the exception of some female voices being a bit forced. Highly recommended if you're looking for a fresh, different detective novel.

219 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Very mixed feelings (semi-spoilers included)

First, the narration was very good. I would listen to him again.

Second, the first half of the book was also very good even with the overwritten parts. I wanted to know very much what happened in both crimes. I also liked the main characters, and I loved the relationship between the main characters.

Third, the second half of the book really changed my pleasure in listening to the book. The anger and animosity coming from our main character, Rob, was so incongruous with how he had been I was thrown. A very large part of the book that I had been enjoying was the friendship between Cassie and Rob, and once that was taken away, I did not enjoy the book as much.

Fourth, so much of the book was unnecessary and irrelevant that I found myself drifting for long moments (especially during the second half of the book).

Fifth, the conclusion was ridiculous and unresolved and frustrating.

It was almost like two people wrote this book.

195 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A near-flawless audiobook (but for one thing...)

One of the best-written and best read combinations around. I put off reading Tana French for a long time because I've been suckered too often, but when I was barely 1/4 way through Part One (of 3), I sat down and ordered the next two books she has written. The writing is THAT good. The story is elegant and moving and convincing, and the characters are more-real than most of the people in your own life. Steven Crossley has an amazing, rich and varied voice, an almost-beautiful thing to hear.

Here comes the flaw. This is a book which takes place in Ireland, in small town Ireland, amongst working class Irish people. ALL of them are Irish, but NONE of their accents are. The first-person narrator explains away his English accent by conveniently spending his teen years in English boarding school, but what of everyone else? It might be a sin for an English actor to attempt an Irish accent and do it badly, and I do love Crossley's voice, but surely there are Irish narrators looking for work? I've enjoyed many other Irish novels read by Irish readers -- in fact it is one reason I choose an audiobook over the print version sometimes. So, the English reader loses a star for this otherwise brilliant book.

186 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Cannot Recommend Highly Enough

Never have I given, to my friends or in the few reviews I have done here, a 5 star review. I cannot say enough about this book, and I really can't say much without it being a spoiler. I was amazed at the quality of the writing; tight, suspensful, well-rounded characters that you really cared about as well as vivid detailed descriptions of the countryside. I suspect that the "first novel" appellation may turn out to be false, and that this is written under a psuedonom (the writer is Tana French). Whatever, the book is a sitting in the car in the driveway, taking the Mp3 player into the house and listening during dinner book. I was unable to put it down. The author foreswears cliches and even the most jaded mystery reader will enjoy the twists and turns as our Detective protagonist trys to explore the depths of his boyhood memory to solve this modern day case. A fantastic book. If this author is really a newcomer, I await breathlessly the next book from Tana French.

114 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliant!

After listening to 75+ Audible books over the past 2 years, I can honestly say "In the Woods" ranks right up there among my top favorites. (It is also the only book I have bothered to write a review for.) The reader is fantastic and the story is gripping. Some Audible reviewers have complained about an unsatisfying ending. I totally disagree. I thought the ending was tight and all major conflicts were resolved at the end of the story. You won't be able to stop listening to this one. I can't recommend it enough!

72 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Fascinating Read, Unsatisfying Conclusion

I intially found this book very interesting and certainly well written. In fact, its strength is in the narrative, rather than in the story. I was very disappointed by the drawn-out, unsatisfying conclusion. It was as if the author got bored and decided to conclude the book too quickly. You see, there are two main story lines, one concerning a recent murder which is concluded fairly reasonably, although not quite believably. I find it hard to believe that the police would not have looked more deeply into the victim's family, especially considering a family member does turn out to be involved in the murder.

The second is a disappearance that happened 20 years ago, with overtones of some sort of strange creature having possibly been the cause. This is never solved, but rather left hanging, making me wonder why then it was even brought up in the first place. Of course, the disappearance is part of the explanation for the twisted character of the main protagonist, but it would have been easy enough to create another reason for his actions.

Therefore, I was very interested at least 3/4s of the way through the book, then ultimately disappointed when it started to become apparent that the second story line was never going to be concluded satisfactorily.

43 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Don't Get It

I think there should be a law against writing a mystery without actually solving it. This book took 20+ hours to read. It starts out relaying a story about 3 twelve year old children in Dublin who go into the woods to play, and only one of them is ever seen again. 464 pages later, the book ends and I still don't know what happened to the two kids who disappeared.

I also dislike it when I hate a book that everyone seems to love. I didn't actually hate In the Woods - at least not nearly as much as I hated The Night Circus and Gone Girl - but I didn't like it either. It was Tana French's first book and it won every award it was up for, including the Edgar. I just saw it on a list of the best books by 1st time authors in the last 50 years, along with Dr. Zhivago and Bonfire of the Vanities. So I obviously missed something.

Parts of the book were entertaining if highly implausible. The author does a great job of describing Dublin in the early 2000s. And some of the secondary characters are interesting.

The secondary mystery - the one that was actually solved - took forever to solve and the resolution was so obvious, from the moment the ultimate brains behind the operation was introduced. The book is narrated from the perspective of the main character looking back over the events. We are supposed to believe that this is a bright guy and good at his job, yet he makes mistake after mistake, including being totally taken in by the main person behind the secondary murder. It was so obvious that the person was a sociopath, and a very annoying sociopath at that, yet the main character seemed totally charmed, and based on the narration, the author apparently thinks the reader would also be charmed. Either the author needed to dial way back on the sociopath vibe, or admit that her primary detective was terrible at their job. I think we are supposed to chalk the detective's blind spot regarding the ultimate villain up to the fact that this murder is intertwined in the original murder that happened 20 years earlier, which the detective was a major participant in, and that was freaking him out.

Clues were mentioned and then ignored. Then when the big "aha" clue came, the one that allowed the detective to figure out who actually committed the murder, it comes out of the blue and "how" the detective figured out the significance of the clue is never explained.

I've liked Steven Crossley's narration on other books, I think of him as Simon Prebble-lite. But his style was too heavy for this book and I think one of the reasons the ultimate bad guy was so obvious was the narration for that character.

My daughter convinced me to finish this book and read the next in the series. I usually share her taste in books and she liked In the Woods and loved the next book in the series. I have my serious doubts though.

40 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

entertained by not satisfied

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I couldn't turn my Ipod off, I did extra housework to keep listening to it. In the end, though, don't look for straightforward answers. If you want a detective story that's nicely tied up in the end, this one may not satisfy. Some big loose ends are left dangling, let's hope the author has future plans to tie them up. If you want entertainment and an intriguing listen that will keep you guessing and make you think, though, this is definitely worth the listen.

39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Not worth listening for 20 hours

This book starts with a great idea but it never really develops. There are two mysteries, one in the past, one in the present. The reader is led to believe that they are connected, but after lots and lots of dialogue, memories, etc we find that the first cannot ever be explained (due to "amnesia" on the part of the narrator) and the second could have been solved right away if the right technology had been applied sooner rather than later. The middle third of the book can be dispensed with- it doesn't have anything to do with either plot. Disappointing.

36 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Spoilers That Will Help...Do Not Read

Ok, now that I have your attention. I am writing this so it will save you a lot of time and money. I do not like spending 20 bucks on a book that has no discernable ending. We have two crimes that may or may not be linked, and a narrator who may or may not have been involved with at least one of them, and then we find out at the end....nothing.
Yes, I am one of these people who needs the plot nicely tied up at the end (bow not necessary). Tell the story or don't, and don't waste my time getting me all het up that this is going to be great...this is going to be such a huge shocker that I am sticking with the cliched characters and silly banter just to find out.....nothing.
I hate when authors do this, and I do not understand why people feel that this cop-out style of writing is acceptible. I want to know what happens at the end. That's why I read the book!

27 people found this helpful