Published May 2007 by Penguin Publishing Group
Source: purchased this one at Target on May 26, 2009 - found the receipt still in the book!
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.
Tomorrow I'll share some of the first couple of pages of this book with you. Then, if I can't make you understand here, you'll understand why I was so impressed with this book. I've previously read Broken Harbor and The Secret Place (books 4 and 5 in the series) and been awed by French's writing but the level of writing in the debut novel really wow'd me.
"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with truth is fundamental but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies and concealment and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world ad we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely, spending hours and days stupor-deep in lies, and then turn back to her holding out the lover's ultimate Mobius strip: But I only did it because I love you so much."And so it will go - a dance between the truth and lies.
Rob Ryan is a wonderfully flawed narrator, as much scarred by the aftermath of what happened to him in 1984 as by the events themselves. With no memory of what happened to him, both Rob and Cassie know that he is treading in dangerous waters as they investigate the murder of Katy Devlin.
"There was a time when I believed, with the police and the media and my stunned parents, that I was the redeemed one, the boy borne safely home on the ebb of whatever freak tide carried Peter and Jamie away. Not any more. In ways too dark and crucial to be called metaphorical, I never left that wood."As memories begin to seep in, Ryan begins to self-destruct. It was fascinating to watch, as was the relationship between Rob and Cassie. French surrounds them an interesting cast of characters and weaves the two mysteries together seamlessly.
This being French, things are dark, the atmosphere is palpable, the dialogue is strong, and the characters are well-written. There is nothing here that says this is a starting point for French, now watch her grow. It was, perhaps, a bit too long and occasionally loses focus but that's a small complaint given how much I enjoyed the book.