In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Series #1)

In the Woods - Tana French What I liked:I am happy to say I liked a lot. Firstly the narrative voice of Tana French is completely captivating - atmospheric, funny, intelligent without being patronizing. Secondly the author managed to omit many template mistakes. Imagine yourself a book without a love triangle. Imagine a book in which two main characters, a young man and a young woman at the beginning of their career, simply befriend each other, without any sexual context, and continue that friendship almost to the very end. Imagine that Rob Ryan, the narrator, can be deliciously honest about his own shortcomings, saying something like this:"What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this - two things: I crave truth. And I lie."There is also Cassie Maddox, who not only thinks and acts like an intelligent human being but also is a dropout psychology student so perfectly able to analyze herself and the others. If only those others listened to her and believed in her best intentions...The friendship between her and Rob Ryan is at the heart of the story, interwoven with Rob's childhood trauma and the ongoing investigation concering a murder of a 12-year-old Katharine Devlin, an aspiring ballet dancer. I found that thread really refreshingly original. I was so pleased it wasn't the case of an insta-love or insta-lust but something far more mature and real, something beautiful and true. Of course the fact that their frienship is doomed from the beginning because Rob admits he destroys every relationship, sexual or otherwise, due to his childhood drama or maybe a flaw of his character, adds to it a dash of nostalgia. Let me quote him once again:"And then, too, I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn't find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself."Well, I don't know about you but that quote I found simply heartrending. How not to like such a character?Finally let me add that the attention to police procedural detail was exquisite. I was really surprised Ms. French hasn't worked as a cop herself.What I didn't like: This book won the Edgar Award for best debut novel but it doesn't mean it is perfect. Don’t read it for the mystery part. In fact I found the criminal puzzle the weakest as I was able to spot the main culprit without any problems somewhere in the middle of the investigation and I am not the brightest fictional crime solver around, even old, good Agatha Christie always managed to mess with my head (fortunately I loved every minute of it)Also don't read it if you like everything nicely solved and explained in your books because plenty of questions will be left unanswered. If I were to choose an alternate title for this book (and yes, it is a bit spoilerish) it could be: Complete Lack of Any Clear Explanation About What Really Happened In The Woods. It didn't bother me much; I admit that monsters living inside our heads are rarely exposed or explained and that's why they are more interesting and terrifying than any real creature you can meet. The two hapless kids could have been taken by the Pooka or by the slavers or Doctor Who, it really doesn't matter. If you share my outlook you'll be fine.Final verdict:I loved this one even if, from time to time, I dreaded what direction the story would take and I solved the crime pretty early on. I definitely want to read more because I like psychological mysteries far more than normal ones and here Ms French didn't disappoint me even one single time.ETA: thank you, dearest Nataliya for your review which made me curious!