Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Murdery Mystery: What a Genre!

I love murder mysteries. What I loved about In the Woods by Tana French is that it is a shining example of what mass market murder mysteries could be if only the writing were good, or at least if it resembled something bordering on the literary. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy Patricia Cornwell and Mary Higgins Clark as much as the next person, but they verge more on brain candy than on literary B vitamins. In the Woods, however, is more literary fiction than airport bookstore. It is told from the point of view of Detective Ryan, a detective on Ireland's Murder Squad, who with his partner is investigating the murder of a twelve year old girl. The girl is found dead on an archaeological site outside of Ryan's hometown, which is also the site of the disappearance twenty years earlier of two other children. The twist is that Detective Ryan is the one child who was found when the other children had vanished. He was found with his arms wrapped around a tree, blood filling his shoes. In the Woods is thrilling, suspenseful, and a true page-turner (I had to force myself to put it down and turn off my light every night). However. Mass market murder mysteries always have a satisfying ending, right? If you read In the Woods, just remember that this is no mass market murder mystery. And that's all I'm going to say about that. 3 1/2 out of 4 Bananas!

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