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In the Woods by Tana French

April 29, 2013 by sdc
When the Just Desserts mystery fiction discussion group met on April 25, 2013, 16 of us discussed the multi-award-winning 2007 novel In the Woods by Tana French.

Whether or not you attended the actual meeting, you are  welcome to share your own thoughts and opinions about this book in a reply comment to this blog post, below.

For additional reminders about upcoming Just Desserts meetings and/or other announcements of interest to mystery  fans, don't forget to sign up for the Just Desserts e-mail list. Or, if you're logged into your account on Facebook, you can visit the Events page for the Lincoln City Libraries, and mark whether or not you plan to attend upcoming sessions of Just Desserts - this is a great way for you to help us promote this engaging discussion group! Our selections for future meetings are usually posted there months in advance.

What do you think of In the Woods by Tana French, set in Ireland?

Join us next on May 30th at the South Branch Library for a special discussion -- all participants are encouraged to read a volume in a NEW "cozy" or "amateur detective" series (that launched from 2011 to 2013), and share their impressions with the rest of the group!

Tagged in: Just Desserts, mystery, discussion group, book group, In the Woods, Tana French, Dublin Murder Squad,
Comments: 0

Recent Reading

November 15, 2009 by PatLeach

Somehow my reading's gotten ahead of my blogging, so here are brief descriptions of recent recreational reading, all courtesy of the public library.

I finished "The Likeness" by Tana French this morning. It's the sequel to "In the Woods" which was a focus of an earlier blog entry. Both stories are set in contemporary Ireland, though there's little "Irish" focus. I enjoyed "The Likeness," once I decided that it didn't matter that I considered the plot entirely implausible. This book follows the story of Cassie, one of the detectives in the original story. Here, Cassie goes undercover among a group of four roommates.  Their fifth roommate has been murdered; the murdered woman looks exactly like Cassie, and she was carrying identification showing the name of a made-up persona that Cassie had used years before when she was working undercover. I just didn't believe that Cassie could come across as Lexie, the fifth roommate. The roommates were also best friends, and I can't imagine that anybody could go into that kind of situation and not be outed within minutes. I decided to set my doubts aside and just enjoy the story. French writes well, and is especially skilled at creating interesting, not stereotypical, characters.  I especially enjoyed the relationships among the police. I'd recommend it to people who enjoy suspense as well as mystery.

"Hurry Down Sunshine" by Michael Greenberg is a father's memoir of his daughter's first descent into the world of serious mental illness. LIving in a shaky relationship with a landlord, and perpetually on the edge, Greenberg wonders often whether his lifestyle choices led to Sally's illness. Her first "acting out" in their Greenwich Village neighborhood hits him full force, as he tried to make decisions, faces the implications of lack of health insurance, and wants so badly to do right by his daughter. It's a strongly personal story. As I've mentioned previously, I'm a big fan of memoir, even when it's about difficult times. Greenberg does a great job of keeping his story focused. Fairly few other characters enter. They include Sally's stepmother, Greenberg's brother, the landlord, and Sally's mother. But there is still a sense of how his life must go on, even as he can't get his mind away from his daughter. A brief postscript tells what's happened with Sally since Greenberg began the book.

I picked up "The Bible Salesman" by Clyde Edgerton at Eiseley Branch Library one afternoon. I love Clyde Edgerton novels. This is t ypical--a southern setting, interesting characters who want so badly to do the right thing, and a quirky plot. And underneath the funniness, a fundamental respect for people. In this case, a young and naive Bible Salesman named Henry Dampier gets involved with Preston Clearwater, a man he believes works for the FBI solving car thefts. Clearwater is clearly a crook. Their adventures make for a light read, with the reader always wondering just exactly how long it's going to take Henry to wake up and smell the coffee. I wouldn't describe this as very often laugh-out-loud, but there's something always a little sly about Edgerton. I picture him writing with a perpetual chuckle. This story seems unlikely and almost silly, but the way that people respond to it seems quite likely indeed.

Tagged in: Good Reads, The Bible Salesman, Clyde Edgerton, Hurry Down Sunshine, Michael Greenberg, The Likeness, Tana French,
Comments: 0

I Loved "In the Woods."

November 04, 2009 by PatLeach

In my reading life, I'm in the blissfully open season after I've read the current year's American Library Association Notable Books list, and before the next list is announced in January.  I've got a pretty substantial mental list of titles, but found myself foundering for a title.  So I took a look at a list from Amazon of the "Best of 2008." Indirectly, I found "In the Woods" by Tana French, because it was mentioned in the annotation for "The Likeness."  And yes, I borrowed it from the library.

LOVED it.  I like a suspenseful mystery, and enjoyed the contemporary Irish setting.  This story of a detective whose childhood included the unsolved disappearance of two friends and his own lack of memory regarding the incident, set a perfect stage. Bob Ryan gets called back to his hometown when a girl is found murdered, not far from where he himself was found all alone 20 years before.

The relationship between Bob and his partner, Cassie, creates much of the energy in this story. Bob narrates, and the one quibble I have with this book is the Gothic-like "If only I'd known..." statements. Well, I appreciate being told that things won't turn out perfectly, but I do find that repetitive refrain tiresome. It is with Cassie that things go especially badly.

I confess--when I read a mystery, I don't try to follow the clues and solve the case. I just wait for it to unfold. I sensed that French revealed the story in a way that made sense (and would have made sense to the over-achievers who expect to solve the mystery on their own), and she made use of Bob's blind spots for the reader to see what he would not.

This was just the kind of book I was seeking--I put off plenty of housework and even a few phone calls to friends and family to keep reading. 

Even if you're not usually a mystery reader, I might recommend this if you enjoy a story about people's relationships when they're put in a pressure cooker. It also has a feeling of those PBS and BBC Mystery series, where the detective and his/her assistant develop that relationship that propels the story into sublimity.

Tagged in: Good Reads, mysteries, In the Woods, Tana French,
Comments: 3

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