So, I won a copy of The Secret Place by Tana French back in August, and was sent a rather beautiful proof copy by Hodder & Stoughton. Typical of me, having finished the book within the month I received it, I left out a review, despite having the opportunity to have one ready by publication on 28/8/2014!
I did read The Secret Place a couple of months ago now, and it was my official very first whodunnit. I think Tana’s writing and language is rather appealing to those who are new to the Crime Genre. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I read a book I’m unsure about, I tend to go in automatically with a closed mind. So I automatically start thinking I’m not going to enjoy it. ( I don’t like change apparently)
The Secret Place is fifth in the Dublin Murder Squad series. Though this is a series, it is no trouble at all starting five books in like I did. The story is set at an all girls school in Dublin,St Kilda’s following the main protagonists Detective Stephen Moran and Detective Conway. Detective Moran is an ambitious and quiet character, with a close few friends but not to averted to time spent alone. From the outset, his goal is to get into the Murder Squad, having been on Cold Cases for some time. I want to say, by a stroke of luck, however in the circumstances that is pretty inappropriate!However, one day he is visited by Holly Mackey, a vision of his past having worked with her as a child on a previous murder investigation.
Holly comes from St Kilda’s all girls school and has brought a photograph of the recently murdered, Chris Harper with the words “I know who killed him”. The message was posted to a notice board at the school named the “Secret Place” allowing students to anonymously post secrets, preventing them from gossip (or that’s the aim, anyway).
Moran is given the opportunity to investigate this case with the Murder Squad and Detective Antoinette Conway. A stone faced, tough skinned character constantly with her hackles up ready for the defense.
The character development was wonderful. Tana described each character with such an individual personality that no matter what, you were lead down the garden path unable to make a decision as to “whodunit” until the climax. Though I’ve never read a crime novel before The Secret Place, I doubt many authors would be able to keep me gripped with 8 suspect interviews consecutively. The chapters jump from present day following Detective Moran’s development, to weeks before Chris’s murder, giving insight into the relationship between Holly and her group of friends, to Chris and his group of friends.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, though there was one thing that grated on me. That was Detective Conway. While I appreciate that there may be call for the “Good cop, bad cop” dynamic in many crime fiction, she had such an awful and non-comedic relation to Dr. Cox from Scrubs it was unrealistic. Her anger and defensiveness stemming from being a woman in a male dominated career, she was overbearing. No person has the characteristics of Conway, her abrasiveness, her closed off mentality; it just doesn’t happen. With that in mind, when she began to soften, or relate to the teenage girls to bring some sort of compassion to her character, it was all too little too late. Her character had become so tiring, the transition and growth to kind and understanding was lost on me.
Despite the fact, I did really devour this novel and would definitely go out to read more of the series. Thought you do find out who killed him, I’m still left thinking… “Do I though?”
That’s it from me!