In the Woods and The Likeness by Tana French

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I decided to do one post for both of these books because they are sequential in a series and that’s how I read them. It’s been ages since I’ve read books in a series without a break in between, but once I read the first one I immediately read the second. I’d only read one Tana French book before these, so I was excited to return to the start of the Dublin Murder Squad series. I can see why these books are so popular but I’m also a little surprised by it. These stories aren’t your straight-up detective stories; there’s a lot of personal, psychological mess in there and an element of what I’ll refer to as the fantastical. They’re so heavy that I don’t think you’d call them enjoyable–not like a fast-paced NYT-bestseller that you can put down when you finish and it doesn’t linger in your mind.

In The Woods wasn’t as good for me as the other two DMS books. In general, I didn’t find Rob to have many redeemable qualities. He’s kind of a jerk but plays off being a jerk by using his baggage as an excuse. I couldn’t buy it. By the end of the book I was so ready to put his head through a wall. I was totally on board with everything that happened to him and very pissed off about everything around him that he fucked up. The story itself was interesting (although I did have my suspicions about the responsible party about halfway through the book) and French’s writing is what saved the book for me.

In The Woods also made me invested enough in Cassie’s story that I immediately started The Likeness. I found Cassie to be far more likable and redeemable than her former partner. The plot was unique–so much more than a detective story or thriller, which was refreshing. As Cassie gets wrapped up in what she’s doing and loses sight of the end goal, so did I. French does a great job of putting us in Cassie’s mind so that we have the same tunnel vision she does. Her desire for belonging and purpose is also a universally familiar one. I appreciated the ending for Cassie’s sake, too.

I’m not sure I’m ready to read the next book in the series, though. I’ve met Frank twice now–once before his feature story and once after it in The Secret Place–and I can’t say I like him very much. I generally don’t take to manipulative bastards. I’m hoping that when I do get to read Faithful Place that Frank will come through with more layers.

Have you read the Dublin Murder Squad series? What are your thoughts on these imperfect characters?

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