The Secret Place

61Yzebp17UL._SL150_The Secret Place
by Tana French  (Ireland)
2014/529 pages
read by  Stephen Hogan, Lara Hutchinson / 20h 34m
rating A- / crime
#5 in Dublin Murder Squad series

Another trashy crime novel – no –  not too trashy –  I just say that sometimes.  It’s a very suspenseful procedural murder mystery by a master of the genre.   A bit of relistening was necessary because  the narrator’s accent is quite stong and my attention was weak.  The second time through various passages was a lot better and I enjoyed  the book.

On the downside,  there’s There’s a tad too much silly teenage girl angst in the book, especially at first when every other chapter is about the concerns of a small group of exceptionally close girlfriends who attend an elite girl’s school in Ireland.  This is the backstory of the relationship between the girls and their male friends who attend a nearby boy’s school and it’s the lead up to the murder, but there is a lot of padding in these chapters.

Detective Steve Moran, from the cold case unit,  is visited by Holly Mackey, a student at St.  Kildas,  because she has received, via “the secret place,” a postcard with an ominous message on it –  “I know who killed him.”   The “him” refers to Chris Harper who was found dead on the campus the prior year.  He had been a student at a nearby boy’s school and his body was found covered with flowers.  But no one was ever arrested – and now the name has come up again.

Moran is accompanied by Detective Antoinette Conway, his smart but up-tight and somewhat arrogant but still insecure superior on this case.  First they go to the school and interview the girls who might be involved,  about 10 of them, focusing on the girls in Holly’s group of friends.

Meanwhile the narrative is broken up by chapters in which Holly’s friends interact and although they seem to have more than a couple secrets amongst themselves there are supposedly none held from each other because their friendship is complete and vowed.  They have no boyfriends and these girls are considered “weird” by the girls in another clique.

French can write very, very well when it’s appropriate to the story  – the scene where the girls first go out at night is wonderful and it would be better filmed – very cinematic.  And she’s a master of suspense,  the readers here accentuate that.

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