“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Nobody Move, This Is A Review: In the Woods by Tana French

This is the kind of debut novel that would turn the average would-be scribe as green as the lush countryside it describes – Tana French writes like a sparkier, Irish Donna Tartt. And, with a nod to Tartt’s The Little Friend, which is also about an unsolved child murder, but set in America’s Deep South, French asks more than she answers and isn’t afraid of taking a risk with an ambiguous ending. In the Woods’ beginning is just as nuanced. The multi-layered plot starts in 1984 when three 12-year-olds go missing in a wood outside Dublin; only one is found alive – the other two vanish. Fast-forward 20 years and the same wood is the site of a massive archaeological dig – it’s about to be turned into a motorway, even though locals, archaeologists and concerned citizens alike are outraged that a natural enclave which has held spiritual, political and botanical significance since the Bronze Age is being paved over. In the last days of the archaeologists’ dig, a 12-year-old girl’s body turns up on a Druidic sacrificial altar and Detective Rob Ryan, the child who returned, now grown up, jumps on the case in order to lay his ghosts to rest, without revealing his personal connection to the first disappearances to his superiors. In the end though, Ryan’s single-mindedness in investigating both cases turns out to be no match for the primeval pull the wood has over him. This book has elicited extreme reactions for its ending, and I’m no exception to that – I loved its elliptical twists, unexpected turns and lack of facile explanations.– Claire Coughlan

1 comment:

anngiles said...

Without having read this book, I'd say it sounds a bit like Anne Cassidy's Looking For JJ. That scared me so much, I wasn't sure I could finish it.