As my Tuesday evening class comes to a close, and my final project/presentation is on the horizon (tonight), I wonder, what if. What if my book idea for my project came true and Tana French wrote the book that her fans have been waiting for? I know that it’s kind of a dorky wish, but I would be ecstatic! I really would. Haven’t you ever hoped beyond hope for one of your favorite authors to write the book you know everyone wants to read? I’m sure I’m not alone in this.
Tana French’s first book, In the Woods – which won several awards including: the Edgar Award, the Barry Award, the Macavity Award and the Anthony Award – tells the story of Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox, who work on the Dublin Murder Squad together. They are assigned to a case involving the murder of a young girl whose body is found in the woods-turning-archaeological-dig on the outskirts of Knocknaree. Twentyish years before that, three kids were playing in the same woods when two disappeared. The “sole survivor” was found clinging to a tree with blood filled sneakers; that kid being none other than Rob Ryan. He never regained his memory and his two friends were never found. Oh, and also, no one knows that Rob is the kid from that case except for his family and his partner Cassie. Could these two cases be related?
Throughout the novel, we become lost in French’s prose; she’s a fabulous writer, definitely in my top five, perhaps even top three. We follow Rob and Cassie as they attempt to solve both mysteries – even a chilling (to me) scene where Rob decides to camp out in the woods overnight alone – alone with his thoughts, trying to bring the past to the foreground, and with the murderer for the current case still on the loose.
As I’ve said before, this book kept me up at night, even going insofar as giving my nightmares which culminated in my waking up screaming in the middle of the night and turning on all of the lights in my apartment. But despite these things, I love her books. Also, it should be said that I am a bit of a scared-y cat. I jumped out of my seat several times in the theater when I went to see M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, resulting in my friend laughing at me and my renewing my vow to never watch horror movies. I am aware that The Village is not actually all that scary, but I wanted to give you a sense of how easily I get scared.
Back to In the Woods. The end of the book left more than a few readers disappointed and dissatisfied, myself included. While the murder of the young girl is eventually solved, the other mystery, the one of the two kids, the one that intrigues us more, sadly, is not. Tana has come out with three more books since then, but none of them have helped shed light on the mystery that I so desire to be solved. Even my coworker, the one who introduced me to her work to begin with, refuses to pick up another one of her novels until the events to this mystery are brought to light.
Enter my idea for her long awaited sequel and my project entitled, Back to the Woods. In it, Tana would bring back her first two characters, Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox, who haven’t spoken in the five years since the last case that tore them apart. Rob had all but given up on ever solving the mystery of his friends’ disappearance. One day, he is going through boxes of stuff at his parents’ house, and he comes across a clue, something that had been overlooked for years. Things start clicking in Rob’s brain and he starts having flashbacks of a childhood he had long since buried away. Those flashbacks and that clue are what drive Rob to break the years’ long silence and contact Cassie. After all, she was the one who had stood by him and supported him as he had tried to open up the past before. This clue and those flashbacks could be the key to actually solving the disappearance and probable murder of his friends, the one that has been haunting him throughout his whole life. It is the reason why he pushed Cassie and everyone else in his life away. With the help of Cassie, Rob goes Back to the Woods in an attempt to answer long sought after questions and release him from the past. The woods may have been destroyed, but that doesn’t mean that the answers aren’t there. Rob has been living with them ever since, and maybe now he will have the courage to dig deep enough and let it all out. But, in a twist to the story, because it wouldn’t be a Tana French novel without a few, Cassie is hiding something from Rob. Could she have had the key all along?
Of course, that is only my idea. As of now, this book doesn’t exist, but what if it did…wouldn’t that be nice? I would run as fast as my feet could take me to the bookstore and pick up a copy. Perhaps one day…