My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The latest book in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series is possibly my favorite so far. It’s not a fast paced story with action on every page (if you’re looking for that try a different author) but a character driven, complex murder mystery with some of the most intense scenes I’ve ever come across.
It definitely reminded me just what I love so much about her writing.
The Blurb (from GoodReads)
Being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.
Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her—except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.
And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.
Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?
I’ve been a big fan of Tana French’s books for many years. Her first book In The Woods was truly gripping and second book The Likeness was even better. I did find however that the subsequent books weren’t quite as good (mostly due to main characters I couldn’t relate to) and it made me that little bit wary of The Trespasser. I knew I could depend on French to write believable and realistic characters and a clever story but was concerned that yet again I wouldn’t like the main character and would find it a little hard going.
Thankfully however this was not the case. From the very first page I loved Detective Antionette Conway. She’s tough, cynical and good at her job but due to the continued harassment, vicious pranks and terrible cases she gets at work is close to breaking point. An unstable lead detective is a common feature of French’s books and for me it’s always the highlight. Even though it is a regular theme however, every single story and character is unique. I found that I could really relate to Antoinette and while I didn’t necessarily agree with how she dealt with things I could definitely understand the reasons behind her actions.
The fact that she is so seemingly unstable and appears to be hated by everyone on the squad (with the exception of partner Stephen Moran) adds so much complexity to this story. She trusts no one and suspects everyone. When she and partner Moran receive what should be a straightforward murder case she’s immediately suspicious when her boss assigns another detective to shadow them. Is there more to this case than meets the eye, are they using it to find a way to get her off the squad or is she just paranoid and over reacting?
It does initially seem like a by the numbers case with an obvious suspect but this is a Tana French book and nothing is ever that straightforward, or is it? This book literally had me questioning everything. It is very much a police procedural, they visit the scene of the crime, look at the evidence and interview suspects and friends of the victim but there is a layer of underlying tension that runs throughout that makes even the most mundane activities feel loaded and intense. There are many twists and turns in the story and the odd red herring to throw you completely off track. It definitely keeps you guessing until the very end and honestly I think I changed my mind about who did it every other chapter.
Conway is not the only complex character in this story either. A lot of thought and detail has gone into every single person who features and each one of them feels real and believable. There are no stereotypes and everyone has their faults and virtues. The relationships and interactions between them are also well crafted and I particularly loved the partnership between Conway and Moran and how it changes and develops throughout the story.
Probably the biggest highlights of this book for me however were the interview scenes. I swear with hand on heart that I don’t think I’ve ever read (or even watched) anything quite so intense. There is one scene in particular towards the end of the book where they are interviewing a suspect which literally blew me away. The writing and changing dynamics between those in the room had me holding my breath. This book is worth reading for that scene alone.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book and would recommend everyone read. It is the sixth in the series but there are different main characters in each book and very little overlap between them so they can be read out of sequence or as a stand alone (I haven’t read book 5 yet).
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.