A Detective, Darkly: A Review of Tana French’s In the Woods

June 22, 2008 at 2:22 (Books, Crime, Reviews) (, , , , , )

One Summer night, two decades ago, three missing children.  Peter, Jamie and Adam.  For them, the woods that reach around Knocknaree have been a home away from home.  They’ve picnicked in the ruins of an dilapidated old castle, made mischief in their favourite clearing, but they’re almost in their teens; adult enough, at least, to understand that change is in the air.  Jamie’s mother is about to send her to boarding school, and the children know that her looming absence will mean the end of the precious bond that ties them together.  They take to the woods.  It’s as easy a decision for them as A, B, C.

As day draws on and the evening gives way to a forbidding darkness, the police are called in to comb through the forest.  After hours of searching, aided by townspeople and fearful parents, they find only Adam, catatonic against a tree.  His shirt has two appalling tears through it; his shoes are sodden, black with blood.  He survives, but his memory fails.  Ryan grows up an amnesiac, unable to remember anything about the night his innocence was stolen – along, presumably, with the lives of his closest friends.

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