01 February 2011

shelved // tana french

about a month ago, we (we being the library where i work, of course) got in a new paperback copy of in the woods by irish author tana french. i keep a small notebook at my desk for jotting down the titles of books i'd like to read; because i catalog books most days, i see an awful lot that i would like to read, including this particular novel, which had been on my list for quite awhile. i couldn't resist the attraction of a fresh, clean, unread trade paperback (because sometimes [read: quite often] paperbacks come back smelling like cigarettes, urine, mold, etc.), so i took the book home and began reading.

i was quickly drawn into french's story of a boy who disappeared in the woods with his friends only to be discovered hours later, his friends nowhere in sight, clinging to a tree in blood-soaked shoes. twenty-odd years later, the boy, who still remembers nothing of that fateful day, has become a dublin detective and a new murder case develops in the same woods where his childhood friends were lost. are the cases connected? can the detective slip back to his suppressed past, keep his sanity, and possibly solve two cases? almost.

*spoiler alert*

the current-day murder case is well-developed and is satisfyingly solved at the close of the novel; i can't say the same for the cold case, unfortunately. i found the ending to be extremely anti-climatic and was rather disappointed that so many leads had been introduced only for them to all fizzle out. i know it is probably intended to be a psychologically suspenseful open ending, never knowing what really happened, but, darn it, i like a closed case at the end of a mystery novel.

after discussing the book with a fellow librarian, who really enjoyed it (so what do i know?), i decided to give french's dublin another try, this time with faithful place.

faithful place recounts the story of a teenage runaway-turned-dublin cop whose first love has just turned up dead at a familiar haunt in the narrator's old neighborhood, faithful place. the catch? rosie daly has been dead for twenty-two years, the same amount of time frank has been away. rosie and frank had planned on meeting one night to run away to england and elope. rosie doesn't show, frank assumes she went to england without him, and he never returns home. so what happened to rosie if she never made it to england?

the story unfolds quietly and slowly as frank is forced to reconnect with the estranged family he had hoped to never see again. although rosie's murder is solved at the close of the novel, i found the ending, once again, to be a bit of a let-down. i fear i've read too many sherlock holmes stories and my desire for hard-hitting facts and my love for the intellectual process of deduction has clouded my appreciation for the exploration of human relationships in detective fiction.

what have you read lately? anything good?

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