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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

The Difference Between Intriguing and Fucked Up

In the Woods  - Tana French

Toward the end of the book, the narrator goes out with a woman who tells him (by way of kiss-off), "I'm old enough to know the difference between intriguing and fucked up. You should date younger women. They can't always tell." 

The problem is that Tana French doesn't seem to recognize this difference: these characters are not as intriguing as she seems to think. The narrator, Adam Robert Ryan (Rob) is the sole survivor of the 1984 child disappearance and presumed murder that is one of two mysteries at the core of the plot, an experience which (understandably) has left him more "fucked up" than intriguing. He is also, all grown up, one of the lead detectives investigating a present-day child murder that took place in the same woods (the second mystery). His partner, Cassie Maddox, is something of a literary Mary-Sue: she is smarter, prettier, cooler, more talented -- in short, her only flaw is that she is apparently a magnet for maladjusted men (Rob included) and psychopaths. Over the course of the story, Rob makes one bad decision after another, solving the present day mystery almost by accident (some hundred or so pages after I figured out "whodunnit," incidentally), all the while overriding Cassie's infallible Mary-Sue instincts, to his predictable peril. 

All that said, for all of its disappointments in plotting and character development, Tana French writes sparkling, beautiful prose, and this book is worth reading just for that.