In the Woods

I’ve heard of the Dublin Murder Squad books for awhile now and have been meaning to read them for awhile. I finally sat down and made a point to read the first one, In the Woods. I like a good thriller/murder mystery, and was really pleased with how well done this one is. It seems like most thrillers are cheap, predictable, and churned out so quickly that much thought isn’t put into craft. However, there were some really great passages in this book that made the reading experience much more enjoyable than the average thriller.

Det. Rob Ryan is a member of the Dublin Murder Squad, meaning his job is to investigate murders. His partner, Cassie, is like a sister and together, they make a great team. However, Rob’s secret has the ability to hinder his perspective. When he was a kid, three kids went into the woods to play, and only one, Rob, came out. The other two have never been found and Rob doesn’t remember much. He now goes by his middle name, went to boarding school and acquired a different accent, so he flies under the radar and no one, save Cassie, knows his story.

Their newest case is the death of a 12 year old girl whose body is found near the woods were Rob was found. His memories are triggered, and he wonders if the two situations are connected. The book is full of several twists and turns, some of them I saw coming, but most I didn’t, and by the end, I was reading as quickly as I could to see who killed the young girl and whether or not Rob was able to put all the pieces of his own childhood together. There are several other books in the series, all are spin offs of the previous one, and I can’t wait to delve back into this series.

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The Life We Bury

Finding a book I haven’t read shouldn’t be that hard, but when the librarian tried to give me recommendations, she went with the most popular books as of late, all of which I have read. For the 2017 book challenge, I have to read a book recommended by a librarian, so I approached the desk with my query. She recommended The Nightingale, Gillian Flynn books, The Girl on the Train, etc. Check. Check. Check. So, she went to Amazon to look for books that are similar to these and came up with The Life We Bury. So, not officially librarian recommended, but I’m sticking with it.

Joe Talbert is a college kid with the assigned task of writing an older person’s biography. He has no one in his life that fits this bill, so he heads to a local assisted living facility and finds Carl Iverson. Carl has been let out of prison because he’s dying of cancer. And, even though he was convicted of rape and murder, letting him out to die seemed to be the right thing to do. Unlike the other residents, Carl is fully lucid each day and is willing to tell his story. Joe isn’t really sure he even wants to hear this story, but the assignment is pressing. Joe lives two hours away from home, leaving behind an alcoholic mother and an autistic brother. As his mother pulls him back home for various reasons, we see Joe as a caring, protective brother. One night Joe has to bring his brother back home with him, to his tiny apartment, and runs into a neighbor, Lila, who is great with his brother and ends up getting sucked into Carl’s story as well.

Of course, being a thriller, there are twists and turns. Did Carl really commit this horrible crime? If not, who did? Carl has a very mysterious past, going all the way to Vietnam, and he has never been the same since. But has whatever happened in the past affected him so greatly that he would rape and murder a teenage girl? I felt like Joe’s brother was more of a catalyst to get Joe and Lila together rather than an actual important part of the story. But that might just me being overly critical. I really did enjoy the author, Allen Eskens’, writing style. I wouldn’t say the plot was predictable, but writing an original thriller is hard to do these days. However, his writing was really great. Sadly, I returned the book to the library already, or I would type up a few phrases that stood out. My apologies. But I have looked up his other works on Amazon and hope to read some of them soon.

Ink and Bone

Thank you Netgalley for another great title! I have been a bit discouraged with the thrillers I’ve read lately. They seem to be lacking some unique quality, jump the shark at some point in a very unsuccessful way, or are just plain boring. Thankfully, Ink and Bone was one worth reading!

When doing a little background research, I discovered that the setting of this story, The Hollows, NY is a fictional town, but there is a town called the Hollow (formerly named Allentown) that was founded by two families that has only recently become slightly modernized, think indoor plumbing a few years ago, but no telephones, and the residents live in near isolation. Here’s a link the Hollow to a NY Times article about the town. In the book, however, the town is a tourist trap with abandoned mines nearby, and the mountain folk aren’t as isolated as you would think. Interesting tie to real life, however.

The main character, Finley, can see and communicate with the dead. A little girl goes missing and, as a last resort, Finley is asked to help find her. The police have no leads, the parents are desperate, and Finley has been hearing a mysterious noise that leads her to the grieving family. I’m not one who believe in this kind of stuff, however, that didn’t really matter in this novel. I took it as a work of fiction from beginning to end and the author did a great job of creating a character to relate to. Finley struggles with her ability. She wants to help families, but she wants to be a normal person, too. She is a college student, with a tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend, a mother who doesn’t understand her, and a grandmother who shares her abilities.

The story is told in multiple perspectives, which is interesting, but a bit hard to follow at times because it takes a few sentences of a new chapter to realize who the narrator is. However, because this is from Netgalley and isn’t an official published copy, maybe some clarification was added to the final version. It’s certainly not a reason to avoid this book, though.

Overall, really great thriller. Goodreads has it listed as horror, but it’s really not. It’s more of a mystery/thriller, and a great one at that!