Actually, I just read that one first. I couldn’t stop there. As soon as I was done I needed more Dublin Murder Squad. So now I’m reading The Likeness. And then I’ll move on down the line until I’ve read them all!
I’m just sorry I hadn’t read these when I wrote that post about Crime Fiction for the Maine Crime Writers. In The Woods would most definitely have been on my suggestion list. The first in the series, it’s about a team of detectives trying to solve the murder of a young girl, even as one of the detectives tries to simultaneously solve a mystery from his own past.
Tana French’s police procedurals are compelling, atmospheric, and stylistically complex. They’re moody pieces of crime fiction, rather than mysteries–some mysteries never get solved in her books, loose ends are left dangling. I’d also classify the Dublin Murder Squad books as psychological suspense. French delivers that delicious blend of mystery and suspense and atmosphere that makes crime fiction the fabulous genre that it is.
I also love French’s unflinching and honest depiction of Ireland and the Irish, of the society and its tensions. Her Ireland is not sentimental. It’s an Ireland full of a sense of history (recent and not), and a sense of national identity. She gives a lot of evocative attention to the beauty of the landscape and the weather, but also pays attention to the undercurrents of society, government, and community.
If you enjoy character-driven fiction with an absorbing sense of place, believable and unique character voices, and well-constructed mysteries, do give the Dublin Murder Squad a try. You also might like French’s work if you enjoy Kate Atkinson, S.J. Bolton, or Gillian Flynn. While every Dublin Murder Squad novel features a different narrator and a new situation, the world is steadily built and characters grow as the books go on. So do start with In The Woods and then go on from there.
When I’m done, though. Don’t sneak the later ones out from under me. I’m warning you. I’m the librarian. I’ll know.