Tag Archives: Tana French

Behind Blue Eyes

Spoilers ahead. I’ll put most of them beyond the jump, but be ye warned.

book trauma

No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man, behind blue eyes. 

Bright baby blues make all of the Mackeys instantly recognizable. Behind Frank Mackey’s blue eyes is the memory of Rosie Daly. Hope springs eternal that she’ll show up on his doorstep one day or drunk dial him at 3am or get picked up for hooking so he can go visit her in jail. Rosie was supposed to elope with Frank back when they were 19. They had big plans to start over à la Livin on a Prayer, but she never showed up for their great escape. Instead, Frank found a note that suggested that she had left without him, and he has spent his life thinking that that she had changed her mind because his family is batshit insane. Louis Grizzard really said it best: she tore out Frank’s heart and stomped that sucker flat. Continue reading


2012 – A Lot to Be Excited About

Let's hope the Mayans were wrong.

It’s the time of year for lists. Many many lists. Magazines, newspapers, blogs, toilet paper companies, all of ’em are doing their Best of 2011 lists. While I would love to know what the 5 Softest Toilet Papers of 2011 were, we thought it would be more interesting to look ahead to 2012 and talk about the books to be published that we are excited about reading. So, barring that end of the world thing that the Mayans predicted, here are a few books that each Rampant Reads lady can’t wait to get her greedy mitts on.

(NOTE: Rhymenocerous just had to go off to Russia while we wrote this post, so her picks aren’t in this list. Let’s all just be jealous and have a vodka shot in her honor.)

Anatasia Beaverhausen:

The Fault in our Stars by John Green (Jan. 10)

I don’t have to wait long for this one and THANK GOODNESS. They released the first 2 chapters online (you can read them online here) and I am already hooked. The premise sounds a bit grim – girl with terminal cancer finds love – but John’s writing and superb characters will change your expectations and make this not to miss. Plus, he signed EVERY SINGLE PRE-ORDERED COPY, god bless him.

Black Heart by Holly Black (Apr. 3)

Holly is one of my favorite YA authors, as evidenced by my treasured signed copy of Tithe in my intro post. This is the 3rd book in her superb “Curse Workers” series and I can’t wait to see where she takes it.

The Doors of Stone (The Kingkiller Chronicles Day 3) by Patrick Rothfuss (Date ?)

Rothbuss exploded onto the fantasy scene with the first book in this series, The Name of the Wind, in 2009, and his brilliant writing and playing with fantasy tropes made it an instant hit with fantasy fans. I think even folks who aren’t fantasy people would eat this series up. Each book takes place over one day and I am DYING to finish this up. GIVE ME A RELEASE DATE!!
Continue reading

Playing Dead

Remember when I read In the Woods by  Tana French and it was awesome even if it was kind of a downer?  I took the companion book, The Likeness (Viking 2008), from my parents’ house the same day that I returned In the Woods, but I just now got around to reading it.  I try to space out the depressing since last year’s unfortunate Dragon Tattoo /Hunger Games overload.

The Likeness was even better than In the Woods, and not just because the narrator isn’t on a downward spiral into crazytown.  Cassie Maddox was a major player in the last book as Rob’s partner, and I liked her a lot more than Rob, so I was glad to see her as the main character here.  I was also relieved to see that she came out of the whole Operation Vestal debacle relatively unscathed.  She and Sam are still dating, which made me happy since I love Sam and I want good things for him.  I mean, I like Cassie and all, and I don’t want bad things for her, but if these two had a falling out, I would be on Sam’s side all the way.

So, since the unfortunate incidents of Operation Vestal, Cassie has transferred out of Murder and into the tamer realm of Domestic Violence.  (This sounds terrible, but Cassie explains it pretty well.  DV victims are still alive and there is something that the cops can do to help them.  Not so for murder detectives.)  One morning, Cassie gets a panicked call from the usually unflappable Sam who won’t tell her what is wrong and instead insists that she trek out to a crime scene in a tiny village on the outskirts of Dublin.  Cassie obliges, confused though she is by the cryptic situation.  She arrives to find her old boss from her Undercover days, Frank Mackey, at the scene with Sam.  This kicks everything into a whole new sphere of weird, and still no one will tell Cassie what is going on.  Irksome.  When she finally gets in to see the victim, Cassie is in for a shock.  The dead girl looks JUST LIKE HER.   Also, she’s going by Cassie’s old undercover alias, Lexie Madison.  (That’s right, this girl has stolen a fake identity.  I did not promise you that the premise of this story was very plausible.  It is doppelganger fun.  Roll with it.) This revelation finally explains Frank’s presence at a murder scene;  he didn’t kill off the alias, and he left it flagged with his contact info in the police databases.  He didn’t see any reason to waste a perfectly good alias – they pulled Cassie out of undercover because she got stabbed, not because she got burned – so they just told everyone that Lexie had a nervous breakdown and moved to Canada.  Frank, who has a reputation for being a leetle bit crazy and totally fearless, wants to send Cassie in as Lexie to suss out the murderer.  Sam objects since Lexie’s four roommates are the obvious suspects, and sending his girlfriend in to live with possible killers does not sit well with him.  I can’t say I blame him.  Cassie ends up going in, of course, or the whole premise of the book would be wasted.  She can’t help thinking that the killer may have been after her and got Lexie by mistake due to the uncanny resemblance, and she won”t spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder to be sure.  I think that’s fair.

What follows is a pretty interesting look at life undercover – what happens when you get too comfortable, when you enjoy the company of the major suspects, and when you drop your guard.  There’s also a good twist at the end, and the murderer isn’t who you thought it was.  (Maybe.  It’s all down to your point of view.)  I can’t say much more without spoiling the fun, so I will just say highly recommended.

Train Wreck

I read In the Woods (Penguin 2007) by Tana French because my parents are hooked on Tana’s books.  Waiting for her latest to come out was a replay of the countdown to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (an excellent read if you’re one of the five people who hasn’t read this series yet.  I tried to get an ARC of it to be daughter of the year by providing early access.  No dice, but I did get some temporary dragon tattoos.  Twice.  Maybe I’ll do a giveaway here the next time I run across those.  Now you all have something to look forward to).

Anyway, I went into this book with high expectations.  My family tends to have good taste.  They weren’t wrong about this one, either.  First of all, there is an UNRELIABLE NARRATOR.  An unreliable narrator is one of my favorite literary devices.  (Yes, I have those.  Judge away.  That and my affection for Zachary Levi are reasons why I should probably join Nerd HQ with a quickness.)  Detective Ryan tells you on page 4 that he lies.  You don’t even have to figure his unreliableness out for yourself.  However, you forget that he warned you until he reminds you again at the end that he was very upfront about his untruthfulness, and then you remember and you get all angry with yourself for believing him all along when if you’d just paid attention to page 4 you would have known better.  I’ve decided not to beat myself up about it, though, because I was distracted by Ryan’s deep, dark Secret.  When he was twelve, his two best friends disappeared one day while they were playing in the woods.  Ryan was found by searchers hours later wearing shoes filled with BLOOD and clutching a tree for dear life with no memory of what had transpired that day.  No trace of his friends was ever found.  See?  Distracting, right?  Takes your mind right off of the whole “I lie” bit.

The Secret is the most interesting and the most irritating part of this book.  It’s interesting because of the whole vanished-without-a-trace thing, the amnesia thing, and the unsolved case thing.  I was fascinated by it the entire time.  Honestly, I didn’t care about the murder that adult Ryan was supposed to be solving nearly as much as I cared about the Secret.  I’m going to warn you right now (SPOILERS AHEAD – STOP NOW IF YOU CARE), you don’t find out what happened to the two missing kids.  I found this infuriating.  Ryan spends the whole book dwelling on his past, getting bits and pieces of his memory back, and nothing is resolved.  It goes back to being a cold case and Ryan loses what bits of memory he had about his friends.  If anything, he’s further from the truth than ever.  My recent viewing of Alias tells me that he should have done hypnotherapy regression to figure out what happened that day, but it’s possible that the creators of Alias have overplayed how effective a technique it actually is in recovering lost memories.  Tana may have done actual research about it instead of relying on television writers to provide her with actual information.  Or she may enjoy torturing me with bits and pieces of an unsolved disappearance and have no intention of providing a viable solution.

The Secret runs through the background of the story, which is actually a pretty standard murder mystery: little girl found dead, detectives follow up and solve the case.  However, the victim is found in the woods where Ryan’s friends disappeared, so when he accepts the case without telling the chief that he’s the Adam Ryan who was left behind, you know that bad things are in store.  From that point forward, the entire story is the proverbial train wreck: you can’t stop it from happening, but you can’t stop watching, either.  Ryan thinks he can handle it.  He wants to solve this mystery from his hometown, perhaps thinking that it will help resolve some of his issues.  Unfortunately, he’s wrong about that.  He makes countless errors.  Things go awry.  The case falls apart.  Everything is spinning out of control, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.  He’s screwed up too much, and it affects every part of his life.  I know that this doesn’t sound like something that you will want to read, but you should.  The writing is excellent.  The story is compelling, even if you don’t resolve the old mystery.  And Tana has written two more books, so maybe it will come up again (*clings to this unlikely shred of hope*).  Fortunately, they center around other people in this world.  Detective Ryan is a bit of a Debbie Downer, so I don’t know that I could take two more books of him obsessing over things. And lying about them, although I’d be on to him this time.  There are only so many train wrecks that a person can watch before they have to quit standing by the tracks, and I don’t trust Ryan enough to believe he won’t cause another one.  Once again, it’s possible that I’ve become too invested.