The Secret Place by Tana French

The Secret Place did not disappoint, by which I mean that it took over my life in the week that it took me to read it. If you’re not familiar with French’s style, her Dublin Murder Squad series is a collection of first-person character-driven classic detective novels told through the eyes of various Dublin Murder detectives that are inevitably assigned to the case of a lifetime. I do not read a lot of crime fiction because of its tendency to be more focused on the details of the mystery than the characters of the story, but French combines the detective genre with thoughtful character development and the sort of poetic prose that reminds me of Margaret Atwood. And did I mention how Irish her novels are? French was raised all over the world, but she lives in Dublin, which is obvious in the faithful and delightful representation of Irish speech and culture. Having an Irish spouse makes reading her dialogue a delight, because it’s so faithful that it almost feels like a private joke.

Genre: contemporary, crime, fiction, mystery

Faithful Place by Tana French

Tana French’s Faithful Place, the third novel in her Dublin Murder Squad series, draws us to the poor Dublin neighborhood of the Liberties and sends us back in time to the 1980s, the height of Ireland’s poor economy and emigration problem. Readers of The Likeness will remember Cassie’s Undercover boss Frank Mackey, who is the […]

Genre: mystery

The Likeness by Tana French

The Likeness picks up and fills in the final chapter of French’s first Dublin Murder Squad novel In The Woods, filling in details that Rob reports in a single paragraph about what happens in the next two years of Cassie Maddox’s life. The novel opens when Sam, still working in Murder, is called to the scene of the stabbed body of a woman who has been mysteriously posing as Cassie’s undercover persona Lexie Madison. This is a doppelgänger novel with a twist; the doubles cannot possibly have been in the same place at the same time, because one is the corpse and one is the cop.

Genre: crime, mystery, psychological thriller

Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason

An elderly man has been murdered in his apartment with, of all things, an ashtray. When Detective Erlendur arrives on the scene with his partner Sigurdur Olí, they search the victim’s apartment but do not find much in the way of clues other than the photograph of a four-year-old girl that died thirty years ago. This begins the mystery. Who is the girl? What is her tie to the deceased? Is someone taking revenge for her death, thirty years later?

Genre: crime, mystery

In the Woods by Tana French

I am not usually much one for cop dramas, but In the Woods got me. Set in the fictional Murder Squad in Dublin, the story begins with the murder of Katie Devlin, a promising young ballet star, a twelve year old with nothing but hope and success in front of her. One night she disappears and two days later, her body turns up in an archeological dig, on an ancient Celtic altar. That is the backdrop. French takes you through the case as a plot movement, as a way of moving the story forward, but it isn’t the true narrative.

Genre: crime, fiction, mystery, psychological thriller