Last weekend I had to travel for business, and I forgot to bring a book for the way home! I never forget a book for place trips, but on the way out to San Diego I had to do a lot of prep for the meetings I was attending, so I didn't need one, and I didn't think "oh, Jay, you won't be doing prep on the way home." So there I was in the airport without a book. Boo!
This is particularly traumatic for me because I'm picky about what I read and airport bookstores are almost universal in the suck. They are chock full of boring business books and top ten bestsellers that (a) I've already read or (b) I wouldn't read with someone else's eyes, let alone pay good money for. I was, to be blunt, in despair.
But I saw a book with a pretty cool cover, so I picked it up. And, when I checked out the back cover, the hook was good. When I opened it up, I was a little concerned...it was supposedly one of those suspense/mystery novels, but it started with a prologue (sigh...I'm totally anti-prologue), and the writing was a little fancy for a suspense/mystery. Still, there was nothing else on the shelves that I would remotely consider buying and this book was pretty long (I had a two hour wait and a four 1/2 hour flight, and I read fast, so length is important in an airport book) and the writing, while a little on the fancy side, wasn't bad, so I bought it.
Oh my God, it was so good!
The book is called In The Woods by Tana French, and it's a story about an Irish detective named Rob Ryan called to solve a murder in his childhood town, except that what almost no one else knows is that Rob Ryan is actually Adam Ryan, the survivor of a mysterious event that happened in the woods when he was twelve that resulted in the disappearance (and likely murder) of his two best friends. Rob/Adam was found, dazed and incoherent, with rips in his shirt and blood IN HIS SHOES ::shudder::, and no one, not even him, knows what happened or why he lived. And that's just the start of the book!
The writing stops being fancy after the prologue (or I stopped noticing, which is just as good), and the plot moves along, and the characters, especially Rob and his partner Cassie, are sympathetic but not perfect. I have to say that the clue that broke the modern day mystery wide open was pretty obvious to me (I kept thinking "but what about THAT thing that matches the description of the object used to assault the victim?"), but the cast of characters (even the supporting ones) was so strong, and the suspects for the murder were so strong that I didn't care that the clue was so obvious. The clue didn't lead directly to the murderer, so I didn't know the identity of that person right away, and that's really what matters when writing a whodunit (in my uneducated opinion).
There's really nothing like the rush involved in finding a new book, is there? I mean, I know that French has to be a pretty big name--In The Woods was on the NYT bestseller list (and she was in the airport bookstore, which means she must be popular somewhere--unknowns don't end up in the airport) and I'm sure that people who normally read mysteries or suspense novels or whatever know aaaaallll about her, but I had literally never heard of her until I picked up the book. How strange is that?
Anyway, I highly recommend In The Woods, the ending of which is truly heartbreaking to me, and everyone should go out and buy it, even if you're not trapped without a book in the airport. And Tana French has another book coming out in August, which I'm totally psyched for.