In the Woods
Tana French, born 1973, lives and works as an actress in Dublin. This first novel of hers won several prizes and is, indeed, an astonishing and intriguing psychological mystery.
Rob Ryan, her main character and lead investigator, tells the story in first person, quite daring for a woman writer and not too convincing, as his character proves to be rather unsteady and self-pitying with lots of soft spots, one of them being his relationship with Cassie, his partner in the investigation, who he accepts as his friend but not as his lover. The question is why French does not allow any of the female characters in the book a normal love life.
Anyway, 12-year-old Katy is found murdered at an archeological digging site, almost exactly at the spot, where 20 years ago Rob´s two best friends went mysteriously missing and stay so till the end of the mystery, although Rob tries everything to find a connection between Katy´s murder and the disappearance of his friends, which he witnessed as a boy but can´t remember. Harlan Coben´s “The Woods” has a similar but more satisfying plot as far as loose ends are concerned.
It turns out that Katy´s family is a troubled one, her elder and very attractive sister Rosalind is coming up to Rob and he is enchanted. Only Cassie sees the psychopath in her even if it costs her the relationship with Rob.
After almost too many unsatisfactory twist and turns, Katy´s murderer is caught and confesses his guilt in a high-strung interrogation by Cassie and Rob, and in another psychologically thrilling interrogation Cassie can nail his partner in the act.
In the anticlimactic end Rob is left alone, has lost Cassie to their third partner Sam and the reader wonders, if in pushing Cassie away from him and towards Sam Rob has not relived his first triangle relationship with his childhood friends.