Book review: The Secret Place by Tana French

The Secret Place by Tana French
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #5
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Source: Purchased

The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.

Two fun facts before I get started with my review:

  • I was on a book-buying ban when I bought this because I’d just spent an unreasonable amount of money to go visit my mom in Wisconsin and I also had no room in my carry on for anything other than what was already packed, but I got to the bookstore and this was 50% off, so I couldn’t not get it.
  • I was forced to have lunch with my mom’s boss (who is maybe her best friend also? I’m unclear) right after I bought it and this boss told me she actually knows Tana French? I just about died right there in the office. But then I was talking with Daniel and he found some holes in the story… like Tana French doesn’t even live in the US, so how does that work? brb, flying back home to Wisconsin to interrogate my mom’s boss.

Anyway, it took me forever and a day to read this book (or 11 days if we’re actually counting) because I didn’t want to miss anything. I probably still missed a bunch of clues that were scattered throughout the book, but that’s okay. I had such a great time reading this book.

I’m not really going to say anything about the plot because I’m so paranoid about accidentally spoiling anything that happens, but I loved this book. I loved the characters, I loved the mystery, and I loved the final reveal at the end. I had absolutely no idea who the killer was up until the reveal and now I need to read everything else that Tana French has ever written. I just bought In the Woods, so hopefully I’ll be reading that one soon.

Highly recommended.


Have you read The Secret Place? Are you a Tana French fan?
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Book review: Faithful Place by Tana French

Faithful Place by Tana French
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #3
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: July 13, 2010
Source: Borrowed

That which was buried is brought to light and wreaks hell — on no one more so than Frank Mackey, beloved undercover guru and burly hero first mentioned in French’s second book about the Undercover Squad, The Likeness.

Faithful Place is Frank’s old neighborhood, the town he fled twenty-two years ago, abandoning an abusive alcoholic father, harpy mother, and two brothers and sisters who never made it out. They say going home is never easy, but for Frank, investigating the cold case of the just-discovered body of his teenage girlfriend, it is a tangled, dangerous journey, fraught with mean motivations, black secrets, and tenuous alliances. Because he is too close to the case, and because the Place (including his family) harbors a deep-rooted distrust of cops, Frank must undergo his investigation furtively, using all the skills picked up from years of undercover work to trace the killer and the events of the night that changed his life.

No matter how good you are, this world is always going to be better at this game. It’s more cunning than you are, it’s faster and it’s a whole lot more ruthless. All you can do is try to keep up, know your weak spots and never stop expecting the sucker punch.

Alright, so this was my first book by Tana French and I am not disappointed. I had expected your standard murder mystery, but what I actually got was a story about a dysfunctional family and young love that ends too soon. I’m not even really sure what I can say about this book because my mind is kind of all over the place right now.

So, sure, there’s a murder mystery here. More than one, actually, but I’m not even going to get into that. The mystery is secondary to Frank’s relationship with his family and all of the backstory about his relationship with Rosie. Tana French has a way with words and even though she broke my heart with this book, I guess I’ll keep coming back for more. I don’t know if I can really say any more about this book without blurting out all of my feelings (and the associated spoilers), so I’ll stop here.

Thanks to Daniel for the recommendation!

#mm18: crack the case