Tana French The Secret Place (2014) 518 p
This is the latest edition to the Dublin Murder Squad series.
French is a master of complex Irish/Celtic whodunits. This is atmospheric literary fiction, with great use of language and dialogue, with deep insight into complex twisted characters. Numerous characters (18) with 8 perspectives and two timelines make for an intricate, elaborate plot. I found there were too many teen voices, but perhaps it was just the lying, destructive behavior, babble, which also seemed unfathomable to the detectives. French’s descriptive writing has a keen sense of drama which provides an indepth analysis of teen culture while creating tension as they have less than a day to find the killer.
Teen Holly Mackey (2010 Faithful Place, daughter of a favourite detective Frank Mackey, who still has the best lines) brings a note detective Stephen Moran claiming to know who killed a boy from the neighboring school St Colm’s. He has been waiting to get onto the squad even it it means working the cold case with detective Antoinette Conway, who is angry defensive and bitter mostly, justifiably, at the old boys police network. Two rival cliques in the posh St Kilda’s school portray the bitter, secretive and ruthlessness of spoiled teens. I found it very disturbing in many ways.
Themes of bullying, loyalty, emotional maturity, trust, mysticism, old traditions and current situations.
Insp. Moran’s voice alternates with the flashbacks of several girls, including Holly-
of rapidly changing teenage angst and psyche, Americanized language of adolescents.
Holly is the odd one out in this school as all the rest are from wealthy families. I can see her becoming an important character in the continuing series (and will be disappointed if this doesn’t happen!)
As usual French’s keen sense of detail creates an intense suspenseful thriller. I love her proper use of language, descriptive sentence structure. This is also a great audio book read by Lara Hutchinson and Stephen Hogan with lovely lilting Irish accents.
If you like Donna Tartt, Muriel Spark, Declan Hughes, Brian McGilloway, Arlene Hunt.
Do not read of you haven’t read her previous books. Or if you are tired of teenage drama (in any culture).
Conway wasn’t going to want me. She was getting me anyway.