As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.
Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox – his partner and closest friend – find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
Fun fact: I read the second book (The Likeness) without realizing it was the second book and absolutely loved it. It’s one of my favorites and Cassie Maddox is also a favorite character of mine.
That being said, the narrator Rob Ryan was a difficult character to relate to. His narrative was clinical and descriptive, and not very emotional. By the end of the novel, he blatantly states he would only tell the story the way he could see them, without opinions and bias. His relationship with Cassie is adorable – they would bounce one-liners, zingers, and banter back and forth constantly. The dialogue and chemistry were immensely entertaining during the sludge of “whodunit” ruts.
Because of their relationship, Cassie was the most fascinating character. I think a part of it had to do with my familiarity of her narrative in the second book, but also because she was the most alive and most truthful character in the murder investigation. Rob’s murky past and turbulent present cause for some anxious monologues and self-reflection in the midst of clinical descriptions of facts, evidence, and interrogations.
The murderer was not someone I would have guessed either. So many fingers pointed in so many directions that when the murderer was revealed, I was baffled. Even the explanation was startling! This was the moment in the work when psychological expertise took a heavy role. I have to applaud French on her ability to create such multidimensional and accurate (psychologically) characters, motives, and reactions!
Rating: ★★★★ of 5
Goodreads: 3.62 of 5