Book Review: In The Woods

Book Review: In The Woods

Tana French

WARNING: This review contains spoilers!!

I read In the Woods because it was chosen as a book club book. I had high hopes for it, as it was an Edgar Award finalist. Indeed, the book had a lot of potential, but I very disappointed in it.

The Story: In The Woods consists of two parallel mysteries, both centered around Detective Rob Ryan. The first was when he was a young boy – Ryan was found with bloody shoes, clutching a tree. He had no recollection of what happened to the two friends he was with; they simply disappeared.

Now fast-forward 20 years. Ryan is assigned as the detective of a present-day murder, back in his home town. Working the case brings back memories for the detective, enough memories to leave him unsettled, but he never remembers what happened the day his friends disappeared.

Praise: The first thing I was struck with when reading In The Woods was that it is really beautifully written. The descriptions are outstanding. It’s rare that I find a mystery that uses such imagery.

As the book progressed, I also grew very attached to the two plot-lines, very curious to find out what happened to Ryan as a child and whether (and how) the two mysteries would come together.

However… this never happened. The mystery of Ryan’s childhood was never solved. While I realize that not every book can / should wrap up everything, I felt like I put up with Ryan’s annoying personality (he’s whiny and na├»ve) to find out what happened. Instead, one of the two mysteries is left unsolved, and Ryan ends up going backwards in life – alone, no friends, and actually went backward in his career. Clearly Ryan was having a hard time, given the circumstances, but he was just not likable. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t feel sympathetic for him.

To Sum Up: What could have been a great book ended up being just so-so. It had a lot of potential but I was just disappointed and irritated at the end of it.

But what did you think?

Book Review: The Dirty Secrets Club

Book Review:

The Dirty Secrets Club

By Meg Gardiner

This was my first book read by Meg Gardiner, and I think its safe to say that I’ll getting the rest of her books from the library. The Dirty Secrets Club was full of twists, turns and unexpected surprises – I never would have guessed the ending, which makes a mystery/suspense book a winner for me.

So what is the Dirty Secrets Club? I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll just say that it’s a group of fairly high-powered public figures with secrets to hide, both from their past and present. When a member of the Dirty Secrets Club is killed, the Boston police launch an investigation into the club, revealing more deaths, scandals, and the secret lives of some of Boston’s most well-known citizens.

If you enjoy mysteries and suspense novels, read The Dirty Secrets Club. Can you figure out who is in the club and who is threatening its members?

January 2010 Update: This review was spotlighted on Mysteries and My Musings’ January Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival. Check it out for more mystery reviews.

Book Review: The Keepsake

Book Review: The Keepsake

By Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen is another of the mystery authors that I really enjoy, with most of her books centered around the same cast of characters – Boston cops. While I don’t normally post reviews of all my mysteries (I just read them way too fast!) but this one was particularly enjoyable so I wanted to leave a little something.

The Keepsake is the story of the “anthropology killer,” a murderer who is killing women and preserving them according to ancient methods (think of the mummies…). The murder investigation was intertwined with historical facts and antidotes. What I most enjoyed about the story was its unpredictability – even up until the last few pages there were twists that made me second-guess what we already knew and what we expected to happen.

If you enjoy James Patterson, Alex Kava, or other mystery & suspense authors (authors of “murder mysteries,” as I like to call them), then I would definitely recommend The Keepsake, or any other book by Gerritsen.

January 2010 Update: This review was spotlighted on Mysteries and My Musings’ January Mystery & Crime Fiction Blog Carnival. Check it out for more mystery reviews.

Book Review: The Alchemist

Book Review: The Alchemist{Book Review}

The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist is one of the first book written by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho – first published in 1987, and then reprinted and translated into 67 languages (the greatest number of languages a book has been translated into while the author was still alive).

The Alchemist is the story of a young shepherd boy from Andalucia, Spain who sets out to fulfill his “personal legend,” a quest to find a treasure that is supposed to be at the pyramids of Egypt. Guided by signs and unlikely strangers, the shepherd persevered and searched his treasure for (I believe) over a year.

I really enjoyed The Alchemist and the idea behind it – to follow your dreams and not to give up. The story almost had a fairytale-like quality to it – it was filled with adventure, courage, faith, and a bit of magic.

As I read, I could picture the scenes in my head, which says a lot about this new author. I look forward to checking out some of Coelho’s other books, which have hopefully been translated into English!

Book Club: Inspired by the little boy from Andalucia, we had a tapas party for the book club meeting. Here’s the menu!