When your favorite pastime is reading, it’s very difficult to find a favorite writer. You find yourself automatically gravitating towards your old standbys, in the hope that they have written something fresh. About two months ago, I picked up a book that my (young) old friend Lisa had given me years ago. Somehow it got lost in the shuffle of the piles and piles of books that she has given me over the years…and the author has become my new favorite!
Tana French is an Irish author who has lived all over the world and has a very fresh voice. An author’s “voice” is the style, genre, or tone in which they write a majority of their books. Tana’s voice is homey yet mysterious, fresh though familiar. She writes murder mysteries set in urban and rural Ireland. Her debut novel is “In the Woods.” It was released in 2007, and won the Edgar Award that year for Best First Novel. It is a breathtaking first offering! I stayed up many nights past midnight in order to finish it. In fact, I never read it during the day; it seemed as if reading it at night after my whole family had tucked in and was sleeping, lent the book greater mystery.
“In the Woods” tells the story of a traumatizing event involving Detective Rob Ryan. He was playing in the woods as a child when two of his friends were kidnapped; this event links him to a current murder that he and his partner are called upon to solve. He avoids recollecting this childhood trauma during the investigation, and even hides the connection when he is questioned by others who remember the kidnapping. The plot is twisty, and vacillates between urgency and thoughtful recollection of Detective Ryan’s past. I found myself wondering whether Ryan himself was involved in the murder!
I am in the middle of French’s fourth novel, “Broken Harbor”, and this one also keeps me breathless. French’s humane description of detectives and their personal trials, and suspects and their broken lives, holds me captive. I am so happy that she has a new novel coming out in September of this year…but then I remember that I am almost done with this book and wonder what I will do with my summer while I wait! Perhaps I can dig up the latest Michael Chabon 🙂
Check out Tana French’s books at www.tanafrench.com and hold your breath with me!