Oh my!! I really don’t know how this author does it but once again Tana French has come up with yet another book with an authentic feel, that bears no resemblance to those that came before it. The Dublin Murder Squad, of which this is the sixth, is not a traditional series rather one or more characters from a previous book appears in a later one, and the crimes they tackle are as varied as the characters that populate the pages.
In The Trespasser Antoinette Conway, one of the detectives who appeared in the previous novel, The Secret Place, is the lead detective on a slam-dunk domestic killing of a young woman. Antoinette’s partner on the force is another detective we met in the previous book, Steve Moran, who has now found his way onto the Murder Squad. The partnership isn’t the easiest, Antoinette still being brusque and feisty and by now thoroughly fed-up with not being accepted by the rest of the team. Both are pleased to have a case of their own to run and will even put up with the arrogant Detective Bresslin overseeing their work to get away from the relentless night-shift and the unrelenting stupid crimes that occur on it.
Having never been in a Murder Squad any more than I’ve attended a girl’s boarding school, the author has created what feels like an authentic recreation of the world that Conway and Moran inhabit. The atmosphere, the décor and the smells are all served up along with the language, by which I refer to the dialogue and the jargon that surely really exist? The book is set fairly and squarely in Dublin and as in the previous novels modern Ireland is gently explored without overpowering the main plot.
The centre of the plot is all about the murder of Aislinn Murray a young woman, identikit to the numerous other women with straight blonde hair and a pout to match, who has had her head bashed in. There is no forced entry to the house and the table is set for two so all the junior detectives need to do is find the dinner date – it’s so easy that Antoinette is frustrated, she really wants a big case, one where she can do some real detective work. When they meet Aislinn’s friend Lucy the pair get a hint that there could be more to the tale, but with Bresslin looking for a quick win with such an obvious suspect, is Antoinette’s reputation for being feisty going to work irreparably against her?
This is a long book, one packed full of details which you really don’t want to miss. As good as the plot is, and it’s fantastic, the most spellbinding part is the unveiling of the characters. The victim is not quite the thick, look-obsessed and no taste girl that the detectives had her pegged at. Nor is the boyfriend quite as boring as he first seemed and with Antoinette herself the biggest mystery of the entire plot there is plenty to absorb and wonder at as the layers of their characters are peeled back to show the reality behind the façade. But be warned this isn’t a straightforward ride with Tana French not adverse to some manipulation of her reader’s feelings; I found my sympathy and concern for a number of characters waxed and waned as different interpretations to the facts seemed certain, and then slid away to the ‘I’m just not sure pile’ all of which meant that I suspected everyone and trusted no-one until pretty much the very last page.
I really can’t express quite how amazing this series is; I’ve loved all the books and each time a new one comes out it becomes my latest ‘favourite’ I’m not going there this time, but if you want a different kind of crime fiction, this series is a definite place to visit.
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book for review purposes from the publishers Hodder & Stoughton ahead of UK publication on 22 September 2016. This is my unbiased opinion of the book.
The Dublin Murder Squad books:
In The Woods