Tag Archives: Murder Mystery

BOOK REVIEW: In the Woods

Author: Tana French
Genre: Mystery
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Man has it been a while since I reviewed a book! You might ask, why is this? Well, honestly it’s because I haven’t really read a book that I felt was worth my time in reviewing in a long while. I’m a pretty picky reader and I don’t apologize for it at all : )
In the Woods is a mystery novel by author Tana French that takes place in a fictional Dublin suburb. The story takes off first with a gripping background history of the lead character, Rob (Adam) Ryan, as a child found in the woods near his house. He is unable to say what happened to himself – or his missing friends.
We then fast forward quite a few years and Ryan is now a detective working on the Dublin Murder Squad and is called to a case with his partner, Cassie Maddox, for a new crime committed in the same woods where he was once found. A gruesome killing of a young girl is immediately evident and questions speculate as to why she was left admist an archaeological dig site. The new case starts popping questions about the old one and brings several respectable theories as to the how and why that will keep you guessing.
I really enjoyed this book as it kept me entertained through the use of two mysteries, one cold and one hot, and French also took the time to really develop the characters. Most mystery novels I read today are very short and popularized so that the plot keeps moving at a non-relenting pace, which often keeps character development at bay. But this novel does a fairly good job at it. Watching Ryan’s character unfold is just as important of an element as solving the actual case(s).
My only complaint

**SPOILER ALERT**
is that French never actually has the cold case solved. You are just kind of left with a fleeting feeling that Ryan will find his peace, but the annoying angst that you will never know the true how and why. I personally speculate a stranger, homeless perhaps, that was living in the abandoned property in the woods with some mental issues. But I will unfortunately will never know…or perhaps French did this on purpose as so many cases in reality are truly left in this same manner? The families and victims just have to find their own peace even though justice will never be gained.
**END SPOILER ALERT**

If you are in the mood for a good, hearty mystery with a heavy Irish heritage and interesting characters, this one is for you. Enjoy!

JUST FINISHED: Where They Found Her

Author: Kimberly McCreight
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars

While summers tend to get me in the mood for westerns and literary classics, the fall makes me long for mysteries and thrillers. Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight fits right into that mystery calling.

This is a fast-paced popular fiction read starts with an affluent town being rocked by the murder of a newborn child, found partially buried in a creek.  The story circulates around four women’s perspectives, each carrying their own piece to the puzzle. There is Molly – city girl turned small town journalist with a sad history. Sandy – teenage dropout with a sad-looking future. Barbara – the know-it all supermom with the truly sad life. And lastly Jenna – a character known to the reader through cryptic journal entries and from Sandy’s thoughts.

One fact that I enjoyed about this book – and also hated – was the idea that everyone is connected somehow. A play on the six degrees of separation, if you will. Why the hate, too?

**SPOILER ALERT**

Well, personally, a murder plot such as this one would never unfold so closely tied. Everyone, I mean everyone played a crucial role in order for the murder to even play out. It is one of those impeccable timing conundrums that I’m never too big of a fan of.

**END SPOILER ALERT**

If you’re in the mood for a murder-mystery quickie with some small-town drama, this read may be for you.

JUST FINISHED: Crooked River

Author: Valerie Geary

Genre: Mystery

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Two young girls find a dead body of a woman floating in a river near their home. The sight of the woman evokes a sense of questionable fear and resurfaces their feelings of sorrow from their own mother’s death only a few weeks before. Clues start surfacing and everyone begins to point the finger at their own father. But neither girls believe that their father could do such a thing and begin in their own way to unravel the mystery, sometimes helping and sometimes worsening the whole situation.

Geary produced an easy read filled with flowing imagery that explores the concepts of grief, love, and forgiveness. What I enjoyed about this novel was the slow, nostalgic way that Geary writes. It draws you in and keeps you there.

The negative items were the “too big clues” and irrational character decisions. What I mean by “too big clues” (SPOILER ALERT) were items that obviously point towards the truth behind the murder motive and murderer before it should be unveiled. The murderer’s son, Travis, trying to plant a lighter in the meadow. Travis catching Sam trying to throw away the jacket. The rude reaction of Mrs. Roth when Sam and Ollie are at the Attic store. The crazy talk from Mr. Roth to Ollie. I shouldn’t be able to pin point the murderer by the fourth chapter. Moves like that make that plot point not as intriguing.

Irrational character decisions is a pet peeve for me. An adult who realizes he may have a jacket belonging to a murder victim turns it in immediately if they are innocent. They don’t hold onto it, waiting for a child to do an adult’s job. I realize Bear himself was still growing, but still, really? The second big irrationality was on the Roth’s. You burn evidence left from your murder victim. Or dump it somewhere. You don’t randomly keep it locked up in your work basement or carry her lighter around in your pocket and use it. Especially in front of the person-who-you-are-trying-to-frame’s daughter. The third is deciding to kidnap a little girl and convince her sister to come alone to free her on the condition that she’ll confess a false story. No, no it just doesn’t happen like that. If you received a call that someone confessed to having your sister and for you to come alone, you call the police. You would never go to a possible murderer’s house alone. I mean seriously, what are your chances of coming out alive? And as the kidnapper, how irresponsible do you get? Why even kidnap a little girl who found some evidence? No one would believe a little girl who doesn’t talk! Just kick her out and burn it! You also would not keep the kidnappee in a maniac’s workshop if you intend to let her live….there’s just way too many things near the end that are “movie syndrome.” Doing the impossible and illogical to finish the plot.

Overall this was an alright novel. Not the greatest of mysteries, but at least enough to keep me interested.