Oh, the genius that is Tana French. Immediately after finishing her debut book, In the Woods, I gobbled up the rest of her mystery series with increasing awe. Each installment solidifies and builds on French’s trademark of emotional complexity, dense police procedure, and suspense to boot. You don’t necessarily have to read the books in order, but I’d say In the Woods is the right place to start.
When the body of a twelve-year-old girl is found in the woods in a Dublin suburb, Detective Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, launch a standard murder investigation to find the culprit. But both Rob and Cassie have secrets from their past that get resurrected throughout the duration of the case and what was once routine procedure quickly unravels into something much more complicated.
The Rob and Cassie duo has everything you want in a detective team. They are quippy and hardened, though if this sounds like your run-of-the-mill prototype, rest assured. Nothing French does is derivative. Her characters are surprising, fresh, and always three-dimensional.
But perhaps the best part of In the Woods and the rest of the series is French’s precise police procedure. You can feel her research oozing off the pages – though nothing is forced or distracting – and she sells it like she’s the goddamn chief of police.
If you’re looking for a well-written, psychological mystery, French is your woman.
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