In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)In the Woods by Tana French
My rating: 3/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne Star

it must be really hard to write convincing mystery novels. you can’t have your killer be too obvious or no one will bother reading past the third chapter. but you can’t have them be too unexpected, without textual support, or you will be accused of cheating. the super-saturation of police procedurals in all their manifestations: literary and film and teevee, sets the genre up for failure – it just adds up to a steaming bowl of repetition and a dessicated medium. there are about five ways a murder plot can resolve itself, and the rest is wallpaper and window dressing.

and then there is this. and for the most part, it falls into the same traps – the main-plot resolution is facile and a little yawn-y, but tana french has massive balls for her treatment of the subplot. she evidently does not care about infuriating her readers. i am reading the second novel now, just out of anger – technically it is for class, but it’s above and beyond the demands of the syllabus. i have never read a book out of rage at the author before. can i get a plaque??

and i refuse to say why and how and when this book began to push my wrath-buttons, but push them it did, and those of you who have read this will understand me when i howl, (and maybe one of you can tell me why i am still watching lost when it started failing me like three seasons ago – but this is the diseased impulse we are working with here – i will see this second tana french book through, even though it is not doing for me what i had hoped the first one would do for me. is this coded enough?? good.)

i asked the near-mythical tom fuller about his take on this book, and he said “i liked it until i didn’t”. which sounds forrest gumpy, but is spot-on the way i felt about it. it has its good points: the irish setting is well-rendered, there are some great descriptions of people, places, and things, the two detectives have a wonderful rapport… until they don’t. (see how flexible that kind of assessment is??) it’s not all “wee bairns” and Lebor Gabála Érenn, but syntactically it is delightfully irish, and that part of it is a pleasure to read.

dunno – this isn’t the worst, i just figured that genre fiction had to play by certain rules in order to be invited into the clubhouse. tana french is a subversive lass, aye, to be sure.

go ahead, read it, and come howl with me.

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