Sunday, October 26, 2014

Review: The Secret Place by Tana French

Title: The Secret Place by Tana French
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #5
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Star Rating: 4/5
Publisher: Viking Adult
Genre: Crime/Mystery
Source: NetGalley
More Info: Goodreads / Amazon 

"The Secret Place is a powerful, haunting exploration of friendship and loyalty, and a gripping addition to the Dublin Murder Squad series."

My Review

   This is the fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad and while I have not read any of the other four books, I may have to read the series from the beginning after reading this. At least read the first book. This book was captivating and it was only when my husband came up beside me while I was reading it did I know how much I was engrossed in it. 

   The novel starts when Detective Stephen Moran, working in Cold Cases, receives a photo of a murdered schoolboy, Chris Harper, from a colleague's daughter, Holly. He was murdered on the boarding school grounds a year ago where Holly and her three best friends, Selena, Rebecca, and Julia attend. This photo was found on a bulletin board where girls can put up their secrets anonymously, called The Secret Place. It's caption reads, "I know who killed him". Detective Moran sees this as an opportunity to gain entrance into the murder squad and approaches Detective Antoinette Conway, an abrasive woman, with it wanting to tag along for the questioning. Conway sees this as her opportunity to fix her failure a year ago when they arrested the wrong person for the murder of Chris Harper. The story is set at St. Kilda's School where Moran and Conway try to identify the person who posted the picture and hopefully the murderer. Alternating Detective Moran in present day with flashbacks of Holly's group of friends taking us back to the year leading up to Chris's homicide where you find out things weren't as innocent as the girls make it out to be.  

   While the story was gripping and entertaining, the narration, at least in my mind, flowed like the author was writing in a stream-of-conscious style. This seemed distracting and gave it more of a play-by-play feel with Moran's (of course) canny thoughts and speculations. Also, I figured who the killer was early in the story given the trope of a certain kind of character. I love doing that though. Throughout the story you will be checking people off and thinking of new possible suspects in your mind with the detectives. It seemed everything the narrator took note of was important in some way, a detail that you wanted to keep tucked away in the back of your mind. 

This was one of the books you felt satisfied with after you finished. The author takes you through the one day of questioning with the two detectives while incorporating the flashbacks with Holly, Selena, Rebecca, and Julia. One thing I'd like to know was how the four girls got on after that day. Also: who caused Allison's arm to blister? To me The Secret Place meant more than the bulletin board at St. Kilda's, but also the close friendship between the four girls who each kept their own secrets. These secrets dealt with the cypress glade, their trust, loyalty, and virtue. 

I didn't expect to become so enthralled with the book. The element she added surrounding the four friends was so unexpected and great. There weren't that many logical skips and it was nice to get the point of view from both Detective Moran and the girls. I've heard her books in the series get better and better. Tana French is great at building a charged atmosphere and great at storytelling. I love the way the relationships between people were well constructed and how you were given small snippets when needed during the story. 

I would recommend this to ... anyone. To those who love murder mysteries, literary fiction, psychological thrillers, moody atmospheres.   


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