I don’t usually get all the feels when reading a murder mystery. For me mysteries are generally all about the who/what/where/when/why and how the detective figure puts all that together into a solution. But Tana French’s 5th Dublin Murder Squad book, The Secret Place, gave me the feels.
Somehow, she manages to intrigue me in every single book, even though the POV character changes each time. Unlike most mystery series (at least in my experience), while there are familiar characters in each one, usually we just see a very brief appearance of the people from the last book in the current one. After there first book, the subsequent book’s main character has also been seen briefly in the previous one. I love this foreshadowing, even if I was completely and totally distraught when I started the second book and realized we weren’t going to see Rob again. Still not over it. Still begging to know what happens to him. Ms. French, are you listening?
I love beautiful; always have. I never saw why I should hate what I wish I had. Love it harder. Work your way closer. Clasp your hands around it tighter. Till you find a way to make it yours.
The Secret Place delves into the world of priviledged upper class high school girls, a very slender sliver of the population and as full of vitriol and poison as Henry VIII’s court ever was. I was skeptical going in…how accurate could it be? I was really afraid that it might end up one of those books that sounds like the author is trying desperately to be young again and only succeeds in dating herself by her generation’s slang. But no. Without compromising her usually sparkling prose in the slightest, Ms. French absorbs us into this cut-a-bitch world. God, I’m so glad I didn’t go to this kind of school. Scary AF. Remember little Holly Mackey, from Faithful Place? Well, she’s back and almost-all-grown-up. Still just as smart and sassy, with a slight tinge of…
Holly’s holding her own in this den of lions, along with a very tight group of her friends. They’re having some growing pains, but they’re mostly of the first-world variety. Despite that, they’re actually quite compelling. Much more than I was expecting. I hope Holly appears again. Maybe she’ll eventually join the murder squad herself? Oooo. Now there’s a thought. But I’m getting sidetracked.
My body my mind the way I dress the way I walk…mine all mine.
This book was a lot about the politics and emotions of being a teenager. Yes, teenagers have what I would term politics. In what was a bit of a departure from the previous books (for me) – I guessed the murderer somewhere between page 62 and 101. I kept expecting some huge plot twist and I did doubt myself A LOT, but still. Also, Detective Moran was probably the most…unoriginal narrator she’s had yet. That was helped by the alternating viewpoints – yes, Moran was in the 1st person, but that alternated with chapters in 3rd person from the girls’ POV. Moran is likable but just kind of…there. Now Antoinette Conway, the female detective Moran thrown in with for this case? There’s a bitch I’d like to have at my back, and I mean that in the best possible way. I am SO EXCITED that she’s coming back for The Trespasser!
Also, this is the first time French has had anything but the strictly statistically or scientifically provable events/actions in her books. Trying not to spoil here, but I was really nonplussed by a particular set of occurrences that is never fully explained. I guess that really does happen in real life sometimes, but I have a really hard time extending my reality this far. She actually addressed this in a Q&A on GoodReads (link but DEFINITE SPOILERS here!!), and that made me feel a little better but I still think it should have been clarified better in the book itself.
They can’t tell you what it’s going to be like…in the reek of ragwort and the milk of broken dandelion stems.
Yes, I’m glad I didn’t go to this kind of school. Pretty sure the sensitive, insecure girl I was in high school would have been flayed alive. At the same time, I’m really sad I didn’t have the kind of experiences Holly and her friends have – and the friends. Despite all their issues…these girls will remember each other, always. 20 years down the road, just thinking of the others will bring back not only memories of things seen but things touched, things tasted, heartache and hope.
4/5 stars.I always find mysteries hard to review without giving spoilers. Also I was a BAD BOOK REVIEWER and returned the library book BEFORE COPYING THE QUOTES I WANTED. Ack!!! Hence the short quotes/lack of quotes.