Happy New Year! Welcome to our virtual book club. We meet the first Wednesday of the month. Have been since Feb. 2009, which means we're almost to our FOUR-YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Now, that's some dedicated reading and critiquing! Be sure to click through the links under my review. They'll take you to everyone else's reviews. Happy reading. Here's to a great year in books!
I feel a bit odd reviewing this book because Kelly Hayes reviewed Broken Harbor by Tana French last September, and Ellen Booraem reviewed The Likeness in November. I generally try to choose a book/author that one of our gang hasn't reviewed with an aim to cover a wider territory. But...it was precisely because of the above two reviews that I picked up Into the Woods, Ms. French's first mystery. That is, picked it up and never put it down. Then, went directly to The Likeness without passing go and onto Faithful Place. That's how much I enjoyed these mysteries. Faithful Place is my fave, thus far.
In a nutshell: Undercover Detective Frank (Francis) Mackey is drawn back into his inner-city Dublin neighborhood when his childhood girlfriend's suitcase and then murdered body shows up twenty-two years after she disappeared. He's gone out of his way for years to avoid this neighborhood along with his dysfunctional family (complete with sibling rivalries, an abusive and alcoholic father, a critical and guilt-tripping mother). Frank was a supporting character in The Likeness. He's smart, acerbic, hard-drinking, witty, and more than willing to bend the rules. Here's an interview where the author explains why she changes protagonists for each book. It certainly keeps the series fresh.
What I loved: I felt like I was IN the story, especially in Faithful Place, Frank's working-class neighborhood. The details, the descriptions, the sights, the sounds, the smells from the dingy neighborhood bars to the rundown apartments to the food to the arguments. All of it was perfect. The characters were so incredibly real. I almost expected Frank to order me a Guinness and plunk it down on my table, warm foam dripping down the side of the mug. Also, I'm a sucker for good dialogue, and it's phenomenal in this book. Perhaps because Ms. French trained as an actress? Look at this: I said, "Kennedy's no mate of mine. He's just a little poxbottle I have to work with every now and then."
What I didn't like: It's small, but Frank's nine-year-old daughter didn't ring true for me. And in a book where the characters jump off the page (to be cliche), well, you can't help but notice a weak one. Still, it's definitely no deal breaker in a book I had trouble putting down.
I'm really looking forward to reading Broken Harbor.
The links below will lead you to wonderful reviews. Please click through. It's a great way to start the new year!
MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS
Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: THE STAR OF KAZAN by Eva Ibbotson (fantasy, middle grade)
Stacy Nyikos: THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE by Christopher Paul Curtis (middle grade)
Sarah Laurence: THE TRAGEDY PAPER by Elizabeth LaBan (young adult)
ADULT BOOK REVIEWS
Patti Abbott: TRUST YOUR EYES by Linwood Barclay (thriller)
Beth Yarnall: PLAY NICE by Gemma Halliday (thriller)
Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: THE RUNAWAY PRINCESS by Hester Browne (women's)
Linda McLaughlin: AMERICAN NATIONS: A HISTORY OF THE ELEVEN RIVAL REGIONAL CULTURES OF NORTH AMERICA by Colin Woodard
Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!