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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Into the Woods, but Don't Take this Book to Grandma's House

In the Woods by Tana French

     This is an award-winning book and I've heard many people enjoyed this book and the author's following books; however, I didn't enjoy this book.
     Rob Ryan is a detective in the Dublin Murder Squad.  Only four people know his true name or past.  When he was twelve, he and his two best friends went into the woods.  He was the only to come out of the woods.  He was covered in someone else's blood.  No one ever figured out what happened.  Now Rob and his partner are assigned the murder case of a young girl whose body was found in those same woods.  Sounds interesting...but the rest left me dissappointed
     Rob eventually screws up royally, hurting who he cares about most.  He doesn't redeem himself; he can't really, it's too late, what's been done 'sbeen done.  After missing some obvious clues, they do solve the girl's murder but with an unsatisfactory conclusion.  No headway is made on the case from Rob's past.  Maybe he turns it around in future books, and maybe we get some clues about his friend's disappearances in the next books.  I didn't care enough about him to find out.

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad Series #1)

Fell Short

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall: A Novel     As the name implies, this apocalyptic story jumps back and forth between times after, before, and during the end time.  The book is perhaps more a  novella; it is a very quick read though well-written.  I enjoyed the way the story was told and the end was intriguing.  That said, I didn't really care for the details or plot of the story much because I felt most of it revolved around sex to restart the human population.

Turn of the 19th Century True Crime

Skull in the Ashes  by Peter Kaufman

     I really enjoyed this book.  I feel it has four different parts.  The book captured my interest right away.  We read of the aftermath of the crime and the skull found in the ashes.  Here, we meet the people of the small Iowa town where the crime took place.   This was especially interesting to me since I am familiar with the area, but anyone interested in life at the turn of the 20th century would enjoy this book.
     The second part of the book covers the manhunt for the suspect.  This takes the reader all the way from small town Iowa to a mining town in the Yukon.  It was incredible the lengths taken to arrest the suspect.  In this part of the book, you also learn about private detectives and what their work was like in the 1890s.  
      Third comes the trial.  All the evidence against the suspect was circumstantial, which would make a conviction from this trial groundbreaking.  The interactions of  large personalities and adept arguing were enjoyable.  We also get a detailed look at the newspapers and journalism of this era.  
Skull in the Ashes: Murder, a Gold Rush Manhunt, and the Birth of Circumstantial Evidence in America     Lastly, we learn what prisons were like at the turn of the century.  Again, local knowledge peaked my interest, but I was also fascinating to learn about the penal system at that time.  I learned so much throughout this book while getting to enjoy "the chase".
      There were so many new or relatively new advances that help lead to the conclusion of this mystery, including photography and telephones.  Which the author discusses, but I most appreciated the way the author ended his book.  He came back to remembering the victims in this crime, helping us to remember this was not just a thrilling manhunt and trial, but a tragedy, too.
     I would recommend this book to anyone interested in history, true crime, or mystery, and those who want to get a slice of life from 1890s while being entertained.