In the Woods

Borrowed from my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

So every 17th I try to make an Irish recipe in honor of the day. Usually I make some Irish Soda Bread and something else to go with it. But this year the holiday falls on a Tuesday and I have an Irish mystery to post:

In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad #1) by Tana French

This book came out twelve years ago and it is funny but I remember exactly when it came out because the title makes me think of Into the Woods and I just love the cover.

So I had tried to read it before, but every time something got in the way and I had to return the book. I finally got a chance to read it, and actually wished I hadn’t. Why? You’ll see.

In 1984 Ireland, three kids went in the woods to have a picnic. 12-year olds Peter, Jamie, and Adam spend all their free time in the woods-no one knows that area better than them. Jamie is very upset that day as it was her last before being sent away to boarding school so her single mother could go back to school.

That’s not what I wrote!

They three are furious to be separated and run off into the woods. When they don’t come back at tea time, Jamie’s mother starts to get upset but just thinks the kids are protesting again. When they don’t come back at suppertime, the parents are extremely worried and a search party is taken up. All they find is Adam Roy, no trace of the other children anywhere.

Adam is in shock, up a tree, and his shoes and socks soaked in blood not his own. Apparently, the socks were soaked in the blood and the blood bled through to the shoes. Search parties continued, the police detectives were called in, but no hide or hair was ever found of the other children.

Adam and his family moved away, the parents sending him to boarding school in England. Adam changes his name from Adam to his middle name, Rob, and destroys all evidence that “Adam” existed.

He’s gone.

He went on to become a police detective, getting on the murder squad like he always wished. A woman, Cassie Maddox, gets transferred on to murder squad and none of the guys trust her or like her. Rob thinks about getting it on with Cassie, but after she completely roasts him the two become best friends and partners.

One day they are wasting time when a case comes up and Cassie grabs it. The two get sent to the crime scene of a murdered child in the woods of Knocknaree, the very place that Adam’s friends disappeared.

They get to the Woods and talk to those that found the 12-year old. An archeological dig is going on before the area is destroyed for a new freeway. The girl was discovered on an old Druid ceremonial rock. She was hit in the head twice, asphyxiated by a plastic bag over the head, and raped post-mortem with a wooden handle.

Everything about it seems off. Why showcase the dead body instead of burying it or throwing it in the river? Why was it planned to bring a rock to hit her, but her being barely knocked on the head having to finish her off with asphyxiation?

Things get stranger when they look at the family. The girl turns out to be Katy Devlin, daughter of Jonathan Devlin–the same Jonathan that Rob remembers from his childhood. He was a bad guy-smoking cigarettes, doing nothing, raping a woman. This colors Rib’s view of him as he immediately dislikes him.

Bleh…

The family is odd though. Jonathan loved and idolized his daughter Katy and is heartbroken that she is dead, his favorite daughter.

Hmm…

Margaret Devlin, the wife, is really out of it, it seems as if she is on drugs. Aunt Vera, her sister, acts like the creepy grandma in Flowers in the Attic, skulking around.

This is not good

The other two daughters are strange as well. Katy’s twin Jessica is so out of it-doesn’t talk, hardly moves, just stares blankly into space…

Rosalind the eldest, seems upset, but also like she isn’t really that upset. She’s dramatic, treats Rob like a lover and is just odd. Like she is pretending to be older than her years.

The archeologists are just as strange. The absent-minded archeologist leader is scatter-brained, out of touch, and doesn’t know which way is up-but manages to put on a well oiled plan of excavation.

Mark, one of the other archeologists-angry, sharp, mean, an atheist, and yet performs druid libations on the stones.

Hmm…

Damian, another archeologist, and a quiet little boy who could be knocked over by a leaf.

Hmm…

Then there are the people who are pushing the freeway, they threatened the Devlins as Jonathan is the leader of the freeway protest.

Hmm…

And of course, her body was found on a Druid sacrificial stone-so is it cult related?

Roy, Cassie, and Detective Sam O’Neil are searching for the truth but find it opening up all kinds of wounds and secrets. Not only is the murder of a child extremely hard, but Sam loses his innocence as he discovers the people he trusted were not on the straight and narrow as he thought; Cassie has to deal with the domestic abuse and manipulations she faced on the past and things in the present are bringing up flashbacks; and Rob-well he has gone back to the place he never wanted to again-Knocknaree.

Will they discover the truth or will it stay unsolved as Jamie and Peter’s murder was?

Hmm…

Thoughts After Reading:

So I didn’t like this book. Adam/Rob is our narrator and admits in the beginning of the book that he is liar so it is hard to trust him. He reminds me a lot of Holden in Catcher in the Rye, so annoying.

Seriously!

It reminded me a bit of Moby-Dick, the summary is more interesting than the actual novel as the main character is annoying and constantly waxing on about his philosophy or random thoughts. It is even more annoying as he is a detective that does very little detecting.

It is like really dude? Get to work!

He is such a man child as he describes the best two years of his life was when he was living in a room doing nothing while Charlie was going to university and Charlie was disgusted with his lifestyle and the mess of a house? Plus he complains he has to rent a room from Heather (who mothers him in a lot of ways) as there is no place for him to afford and he is saving to move out when Cassie has her own apartment and moved there after him and presumably makes the same amount of money.

So annoying!

He’s also a complete narcissist, only caring about himself. He hates visiting his parents and seeing them, only cares about how they relate to him, thinks everything has to do with him, everyone is talking about him, etc.

We all know how they think highly of themselves, and only themselves, but Rob also exhibits this:

  • Become impatient or angry when they don’t receive special treatment
  • Have significant interpersonal problems and easily feel slighted
  • React with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make themselves appear superior
  • Have difficulty regulating emotions and behavior
  • Experience major problems dealing with stress and adapting to change
  • Feel depressed and moody because they fall short of perfection
  • Have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation

This guy!

Plus I hated the ending. The death of Katy had a great twist bit but they never tell you what happened to Jamie and Peter. Ugh, so infuriating!!!

Let me know!!!

For more mysteries with child disappearances, go to The Key to Midnight

For more Saint Patrick’s Day recipes, go to Irish Potato Pie

For more mysteries, go to The Thumb Mark of St. Peter

The Idol House of Astarte

From my sister blog JaneAustenRunsMyLife

So last month I reviewed the first of The Tuesday Club Murders AKA The Thirteen Problems.

I typically review short stories on Sundays, but decided as these are the Tuesday Club Murders, I’ll be posting on Tuesday!

“The Idol House of Astarte” from The Tuesday Club Murders (Miss Marple #2) by Agatha Christie

Plot Synopsis:

So Miss Marple is an elderly woman who has lived in her village St. Mary Mead all her life. But even though she grew up in a small town, she has the observational skills of a hawk.

So one night there is a gathering at Miss Marple’s home: Miss Marple; Raymond West, Miss Marple’s nephew and a writer; Joyce Lempriére, an artist; Sir Henry Clithering, former commissioner of Scotland Yard; Dr. Pender, the elderly clergyman of the parish; and Mr. Petherick, solicitor.

They are enjoying themselves, when Raymond starts talking about unsolved mysteries.

Joyce decides they should start a club and meet every Tuesday and present a mystery. One they know they answer to: The Tuesday Night Club. 

Next to share a mystery is Dr. Pender:

Dr. Pender is the reverend and says he only has one story to share. The story takes place on the edges of Dartmoor, the property was beautiful but had been on the market a very long time.

Hmm…

It was eventually purchased by Sir Richard Haydon, an old friend of Dr. Pender. It had been years since they had seen each other, but they reconnected and he invited Dr. Pender down to Silent Grove, as his recently purchased property was now named.

At the party was Richard, his cousin Elliot Hayden, Lady Mannerling, her daughter Violet Mannerling, Captain Rogers, Mrs. Rogers, Dr. Symonds, and a beautiful, society woman Miss Diana Ashley.

Richard was extremely attracted to Diana, and Dr. Pender saw that this whole party was a setup-a setup to bring her down and woo her.

The house was solid Devonshire granite on the moor with weatherbeaten Tors. There were also relics of the Stone Age which Richard likes as his hobby was antiquarian matters.

The moors.

They are walking around the grounds, but Dr. Pender doesn’t like it. Something feels off.

Richard notices it and tells him the grounds used to be the Grove of Astarte-otherwise known as Ishtar or Ashtoreth. In the middle of a clearing is a stone summer house, which Haydon calls The Idol House of Astarte-The Goddess of the Moon.

Diana wants to have a wild orgy party, out in the moonlight in the sacred grove. To dress up fancy and celebrate. Nobody else likes it, but Diana.

That night they decide to dress up in Fancy Dress, and all dress up. Rev. Pender is a monk, Richard a Phoenician sailor, his cousin Elliot a Brigand Chief, Lady Mannerling a hospice nurse, her daughter Violet Mannerling a Circassian slave, Captain Rogers and Mrs. Rogers were Neolithic hut dwellers, Dr. Symonds a chef, and Miss Diana the “unknown”

After dinner they all go outside. After a while they realize that Diana is missing.

Violet Mannerling says that she saw her go to the idol house, so they head over there. When they get there they spot her in gauze with two crescent moons coming out of her hair.

I am the priestess of Astarte,’ she [Diana] crooned. ‘Beware how you approach me, for I hold death in my hand.”

Richard goes up to her, he tells her she is beautiful but wants her to stop.

“Stop,’ she [Diana] cried. ‘One step nearer and I will smite you with the magic of Astarte.”

Richard laughed and went closer, when something strange happened. He stumbled and fell. And he did not rise.

Okay, stop playing.

On closer examination, by Elliot, it appears Richard is dead! Afterwards, Elliot looks at his hands-weird.

They examine Richard, and it appears he was stabbed by a long thin dagger, but they could not find one. Diana faints, believing she is at fault, and all go back to the house.

Elliot decides to go back to the grove. The police come and at seven o’clock, they realize Elliot never returned. They then find him stabbed!

When questioned, Elliot says that he was at the Idol House and felt something was watching him. He then felt a cold wind, and tuned around and saw a small figure of the goddess. The figure seemed to grow larger and larger-then he blacked out.

Is someone trying to kill the Haydon? Or is it supernatural?

Thoughts After Reading:

This one wasn’t my favorite out of the series, but it was still very well written. I kind of knew the ending but I wasn’t sure how it was done.

Hmm…

For more on The Tuesday Club Murders, go to The Tuesday Club Murders

For more Miss Marple books, go to The Murder at the Vicarage

For more Agatha Christie, go to The Secret Adversary

For more short stories, go to The Man with the Twisted Lip