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In The Woods by Tana French : #AToZChallenge #BookRecommendations

Have you read the book In The Woods? If yes, what did you think of it? What crime novels have you read lately ?

After long years of being away from the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I’m going to write about thrillers of all stripes, mysteries, and crime novels for 26 days in April, based on the letters of the alphabet. All posts will be linked here.

Since I’m writing up thriller and crime novel recommendations, I’m also giving away a 50 USD Amazon Gift card, to support reading, and to help my next novel THE BLUE BAR along on its journey.

Entries involve:



After Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillippi Ryan, I bring you

In The Woods : Book Description

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. He is 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.

In The Woods: Excerpt

What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with truth is fundamental but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies and concealment and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely, spending hours and days stupor-deep in lies, and then turn back to her holding out the lover’s ultimate Möbius strip: But I only did it because I love you so much.

I have a pretty knack for imagery, especially the cheap, facile kind. Don’t let me fool you into seeing us as a bunch of parfit gentil knights galloping off in doublets after Lady Truth on her white palfrey. What we do is crude, crass and nasty. A girl gives her boyfriend an alibi for the evening when we suspect him of robbing a north-side Centra and stabbing the clerk. I flirt with her at first, telling her I can see why he would want to stay home when he’s got her; she is peroxided and greasy, with the flat, stunted features of generations of malnutrition, and privately I am thinking that if I were her boyfriend I would be relieved to trade her even for a hairy cellmate named Razor. Then I tell her we’ve found marked bills from the till in his classy white tracksuit bottoms, and he’s claiming that she went out that evening and gave them to him when she got back.

I do it so convincingly, with such delicate crosshatching of discomfort and compassion at her man’s betrayal, that finally her faith in four shared years disintegrates like a sand castle and through tears and snot, while her man sits with my partner in the next interview room saying nothing except “Fuck off, I was home with Jackie,” she tells me everything from the time he left the house to the details of his sexual shortcomings. Then I pat her gently on the shoulder and give her a tissue and a cup of tea, and a statement sheet.


About the author, Tana French

Tana French is the New York Times bestselling author of In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place, The Trespasser and The Witch Elm. Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry Awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.

Why pick up In The Woods

Read that excerpt and tell me you’re not already in love with that gorgeous voice. A relative brought the book when she came to stay at my place, and left it behind because it was too big to fit into her baggage. It is quite the tome, for sure, but absolutely worth it.

It is not heartwarming. It made me very very sad, but I still couldn’t put it down. You come to care about the main character despite his somewhat cliched, rhyme-y name, his flaws, and the mistakes he makes.

The book is not a typical investigative mystery, (even though there’s plenty of investigation and mystery). A few plot-lines are left dangling, the ending satisfies but not in the way you expect, and you keep wondering if the characters did not deserve a better fate.

If you like your stories to stun you at the level of language, if you do not mind a slower pace of investigation (which is balanced out by tensions between characters), and want to delve deep into the past of a character to more fully understand his present, this is the novel for you.

Have you read the book In The Woods? If yes, what did you think of it? What crime novels have you read lately ?


A to Z Challenge GiveawayThrough the month of April,  to celebrate the challenge and get some support for THE BLUE BAR, I’m  holding this giveaway:

Enter to WIN a 50 USD Amazon gift card for this


Entries are simple: click the RAFFLECOPTER link above, and follow the instructions. It calls for a Goodreads add, a subscription request, and a follow on Instagram.

If you enjoyed the post,  click on any or all of the following to stay updated:

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • I normally avoid books about missing children as I find them too upsetting. But that excerpt is amazing. I might just have to brave this one.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      It IS amazing, the entire book, I mean. You might just like it.

  • cassmob says:

    I’m a fan of Tana French and have been reading her books for a while, incl this one.

  • Jemima Pett says:

    I didn’t so much like as admire the first para or so, but the way it pans out… just wow. Can I stay away? I doubt it. It’s probably grabbed me, asking me to find it in the library when I next go….

  • Sounds interesting — I’m adding it to my TBR.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      This is a good one, though I may be biased. I’m a Tana French fan.

  • Oooh. Solving the crime is usually much less important to me than the character/situation exploration so this sounds right up my very broad street. Thank you.
    One of the books I am currently reading (and enjoying) is ‘the last thing he told me’ by Laura Dave.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Yes, this one I know you will actually like. I can never write like French, but I wish I could.

      I just finished The Last Thing He Told Me–and enjoyed it, too! it was also the sort of book I like–in the periphery of crime, with family at the centre.

  • Where are you looking for these books you’re writing about? I’m deep in Sisters of Resistance and lovin’ it. I’ll check your list for my next read. Thanks for the awesome books!

  • Sounds great, and good review, Damyanti. I definitely got a feel for the book.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Hardly a review–I just go for how a book makes me feel, and what makes the most impression. You might like this one.

  • Your cover is awesome!!!
    Another book that sounds like it would make a good and unsettling movie.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks, Alex. There’s already been interest in adapting The Blue Bar to the screens. But these things are slow–so we’ll see.