Are you bracing yourself for some obnoxious gushing? I know you are, because you all know how I love this woman. Oh, how I do love her. I've considered planning a vacation to Ireland, just to follow her tour stops. Sort of like people did with the Grateful Dead. I could make jewelry and bookmarks and things, and sell them. It was a thought anyway.
I recently read the most incredible review of this book by Jennifer (Literate Housewife). I'd like to think, like Jennifer, that I could see a random sample of French's writing and identify it, like I could with Joshilyn Jackson and Stephen King. Her writing is just that distinctive.
Can I sit here and promise EVERYONE they would love her like I do? I'm not sure. Her stories aren't necessarily neatly tied up at the end. She takes literary risks that I greatly admire. Her mysteries are as much about the relationships, the childhood baggage, the chemistry, the sense of place, as it is about the crime itself. Her novels are complex and layered and dense. I could get gloriously lost in them.
I also love how she takes a vague, sometimes unlikable character from one of her books in the Dublin Murder Squad series and makes them a star in the next book. I spend more time than I should analyzing who I think will be the next protagonist. We get into the mind of this person we don't know nor like much, and get a whole new perspective. Brilliant is what that is. (Are you over me yet?). Let me tell you about the book.
Synopsis: A young family who seems to have had it all...beautiful house in an ocean-side community once known as Broken Harbor, handsome successful father with his pretty high school sweetheart and two children...are found murdered, with only one of the four clinging to life. Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy is assigned to the high-profile case along with his rookie partner Richie. Kennedy has had an impeccable solve rate, with the exception of the last couple of years, and is confident that he will nail this one, fix his reputation, and teach Richie the ropes.
Except nothing quite goes as planned. Something very strange was going on in that house in Broken Harbor, and there are secrets surrounding the young family that go back to their youth. Kennedy is also struggling with flashbacks of tragic events that happened to him in this small town when he was a teenager, and must also manage his mentally disturbed younger sister, as well as office politics that are always waiting at the sidelines to derail his career.
My thoughts: I think I will stop there. As with any Tana French novel, there is so much going on here than a straightforward murder. Childhood traumas that come back to haunt, mental illness, and the failure of the economy and the housing market that has destroyed the European markets as well as our own. Surreal (and almost supernatural) spookiness! And the complicated relationships! They are always present, as real and tangible in French's books as they are in our own lives. The building of trust, the heartbreak, the betrayals here that left me in pieces. There were moments when my stomach hurt.
Most of the loose ends were tied up at the end of this book, but I was still left with enough questions that I had to seek opinions from my blogging friends. I would have expected nothing less from French than to leave enough crumbs in my brain to keep me thinking about them for weeks.
Was it my favorite book that French has written? No, but to say that sounds bad. I loved this book. And like a drug-addled addict, I'm already craving my next fix. Tana please write faster.
A few words about the audio production: I did read "In the Woods" in print, but I experienced the rest of French's books on audio. If any of you are audio fans, I must IMPLORE YOU TO WAIT FOR THESE AUDIOS. It is worth it. They have all been impeccable in every possible way. In this case, we were entertained by Stephen Hogan. I had initial sadness because Tim Gerard Reynolds (Faithful Place) wasn't at the helm (audio crush) but I understood why. Reynolds was the voice of Frank Mackey. This was Scorcher Kennedy. There was no need for regret though, my friends. Stephen Hogan was truly amazing. I don't know, I guess he has done some narrating but nothing mainstream that I can tell. Like Reynolds, he exuded frustration and fear and devastation, ramping up when things got tense to the point where I had to just sit and put my head in my hands. This is what audio narration is all about people. I don't know what more I can say.
Audiobook length: 19 hours and 59 minutes (464 pages)
5 out of 5 stars