"What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this - two things: I crave truth. And I lie."This book is brilliantly cruel - a story of deep and painfully real psychological f*ckery masquerading as a murder mystery. There's nothing "feel good" about it. If you like a book to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy at the end, it's not for you. If you like neat resolutions - it's not for you (and if you already read this book, you know exactly what I'm talking about). If you hate being left with a new question for each question that this story answered - well, yet again, it's not a book for you. But I loved it. I loved every page of it, every wordy paragraph, every depressing turn of the story, every soul-shattering instance, every painfully real mistake of the protagonist. I chose reading this book over sleep - a decision I almost came to regret later, having to work a 14-hour day on 3 hours of sleep ("Hi, it's Dr. (yawn) Nataliya returning a (yawn) page (yawn)... Scalpel (yawn) please!)- but hey, we all make decisions we wish we could take back (hey, just like Rob Ryan in this book!). And it ultimately was fully worth it."I suppose you can say my real weakness is a kind of long-sightedness: usually it is only at a distance, and much too late, that I can see the pattern."Rob Ryan is a detective in the (imaginary) Dublin Murder Squad, assigned to investigate a senseless murder case of a 12-year-old ballet dancer Katy in a little town of Knocknaree. What his supervisors don't know is that 20 years ago he was among the three children who went to play in the woods near Knocknaree, and was the only one to come back under unbelievably strange circumstances, wearing shoes full of blood, and with no memory of what happened to his best friends who forever disappeared in the woods. The investigation forces Rob to revisit the place that has such painful associations for him, and slowly, day by day, rips his heart to shreds and destroys him a little bit at a time. And it's not the murder story (stories?) but Rob's despair, mistakes, pain, and downward spiral and self-destruction that makes this book so painfully real and fascinating to read. It is a reminder that our worst monsters ultimately do live within ourselves, and that we are our own worst enemies even without ever meaning to be."And then, too, I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn't find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself."The heart of this book is the story of a friendship between Rob and his partner Cassie Maddox and the ultimate destruction of it that Rob's downward spiral eventually brings. Rob and Cassie start off enjoying that incredible, intense and yet easy, all-forgiving and natural closeness of a friendship I think every person in the world (non-sociopathic, to be exact) longs for. It's a friendship too beautiful to not be doomed. It is a friendship that many people do not have a privilege to enjoy after they have grown out of their childhood. It's a friendship that brings nostalgic longing from the very first pages on which it is described. And it is, without a doubt, my favorite part of this book."But a girl who goes into battle beside you and keeps your back is a different thing, a thing to make you shiver. Think of the first time you slept with someone, or the first time you fell in love: that blinding explosion that left you crackling to the fingertips with electricity, initiated and transformed. I tell you that was nothing, nothing at all, beside the power of putting your lives, simply and daily, into each other's hands."This book takes us onto a journey to the sadness and bleakness and hopelessness. The mystery of what happened twenty years ago to Rob, the psychological fallout he still suffers from decades later, the senselessness of the new murder, the lack of justice as we would have loved to see it done, the burden of crushing loneliness, the habitual cruelty of the world, the casual mentions of the depressing parts of the society like the persistent corruption. None of this is a feel-good reading. None of this has a resolution that the readers hope for (or any resolution at all for some of the above!). It is painful and yet touching and beautiful, and so unbelievably close to perfect - at least it was for me."For a moment, I felt as if the universe had turned upside down and we were falling softly into an enormous black bowl of stars, and I knew, beyond any doubt, that everything was going to be alright."I loved this book to pieces, even though I could not shake off the overwhelming feeling of sadness and hollowness after finishing it. I loved it despite (or maybe because?) of the frustrating incompleteness of some plot lines, the frequent lack of resolution, and the unfulfillment of my wishes for the characters and events. I know I will read it again in the future, curious to know how my reading experience will be changed once I know what's coming. In the meantime, I highly recommend it. 5 stars with no hesitation."There was a time when I believed I was the redeemed one, the boy borne safely home on the ebb of whatever freak tide carried Peter and Jamie away. Not any more. In ways too dark and crucial to be called metaphorical, I never left that wood."-------------Catie's wonderful review that made me pick up this book is here.My review of the sequel, The Likeness, is here. The third book in the series, Faithful Place, is reviewed here. Finally, the review for the fourth book in the series, Broken Harbour, is here.