latenightparty: (Thetis-Moon)
[personal profile] latenightparty
Ever been so intoxicated by a book that you just couldn't put it down, and it almost drove you insane?

That happened to me this week. I picked up a used copy of In the Woods by Tana French. I found it very well-written and richly detailed, which is part of the reason it stayed on my mind. Have any of you read this book? Would you like to discuss it if you have? It is a murder mystery.

Lifted from an IM conversation where I was venting to someone who had not read this book, and couldn't care less, about how the ending drove me nuts.

So the main character is a man who grew up to be a murder detective in Ireland. When he was 12, he was playing in the woods with two friends. His friends went missing and he was found catatonic, with his shoes soaked from the inside with blood that matched the blood type of one of his companions. He developed amnesia about whatever happened to his friends, presumably because it was so traumatic his brain blocked it out. So that remained an unsolved case.

Then twenty years after that happened, he gets assigned to a new child-murder case in that same location, now an archeological site. He's changed his name, so the folks in his squad don't know he was the same boy found alive in the high-profile case twenty years ago. They started thinking the two cases are somehow linked. A really frustrating investigation ensues, and he's risking his job. They also find another old trace of blood and one of his friend's hair clips from the old case.

So what happens in the end: the recent murder case is solved, and it has no connection to the old case. But the book ends with the earlier disappearances remaining unexplained. That was really frustrating, and what a lot of people complained about in reviews. I'm still trying to come up with what could have happened! I'm thinking this author may have just wanted to buck the trend where everything is tied up neatly in fiction, because in real life a lot of disappearances are never solved. But 75% of my reading the book was wanting to know what happened to those kids!

It's interesting seeing all the theories people are coming up with in blog comments, from things hinted about in the book--that a mysterious creature, like Cerrunos, in the woods killed the kids (there were hints of a creature being seen and heard), or even that the main character himself killed his friends. Some readers thought he sounded like a psychopath himself, and he admitted he was a liar, so he could have remembered and said he didn't. My own theory was that maybe he had a psychotic break of some sort, hence the amnesia, and killed them, but then he would have had to find a really clever way of getting rid of the bodies.

Maybe the author didn't tie up the loose ends because she wanted people to keep thinking about it, and to know that many families have to live every day with the anguish of a person who disappeared decades ago under weird circumstances and was never found, and they'll never know what happened.

Friend's theory: "Chupacabra ate them." Maybe I can live with that.

Date: 2011-09-10 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stubberella.livejournal.com
I have not read it, but I see very mixed reviews on Amazon. I don't think I've ever seen such an even distribution of 5,4,3,2,and 1 star ratings before!

Date: 2011-09-10 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wolfteaparty.livejournal.com
Yeah, that makes for one cool bar graph! ^_^ The ending seemed to be the main complaint.

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