Tana French writes character-driven mysteries set in Dublin, and I love her smart, thoughtful writing style. This first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series had me hooked with its layers of mysteries. The first: the disappearance of two children from a wood. The only witness is a boy, frozen in terror against a tree with blood in his shoes and no memory of what happened. The second: twenty years later, the murder of a young girl near that same wood. Detective Rob Ryan was that boy with blood in his shoes, and now he returns to the wood to investigate this new murder and determine if the two crimes are connected.
The suspense, relationships, and slow reveals of memories and clues were almost perfect in this book--until about the last 25%, when all of them started to unravel. The investment I had built up in the characters and their backstories felt left by the wayside and I was left frustrated by unresolved storylines. While disappointing, I do wish I had read this before The Likeness (which I liked much more) for further backstory on Detective Cassie Maddox (Ryan's partner). I will continue to read Tana French, but I'll also continue to hope that she revisits Ryan and gives him a better resolution.
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From the publisher’s description:
A gorgeously written novel that marks the debut of an astonishing new voice in psychological suspense.
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.