The Trespasser by Tana French
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
We're up to the sixth installment in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series and she's still going strong. In this one, we hear from Antoinette Conway, the partner of Stephen Moran from French's previous novel, The Secret Place. Being a Detective on the Murder Squad isn't everything Antoinette hoped for. She isn't fitting in on the male squad--most of whom tease and prank her viciously--and she and Steve seem only to receive the most bland, boring cases. Not much bothers Antoinette, but she's about ready to leave the Squad behind for good. So when the latest case comes in--handed straight to Conway and Moran by their boss--it looks like much of the same: another domestic dispute. Beautiful, blond Aislinn Murray has been killed in her home. It looks like a typical lover's quarrel gone wrong. Aislinn's table is set for a romantic dinner, and she's dressed up for a beau. But as Antoinette and Steve investigate, they find things aren't exactly what they seem. Why is their colleague, Detective Breslin, so involved in their case? Why does Antoinette keep seeing someone following her home? And why is the local media out to get her? Antoinette knows the Squad doesn't like her, but now it seems like the hatred is wrapped up in her case, too. Who can she trust--and where will it end?
I'll say it up front: this was an excellent mystery. Just a wonderful read. I love all of French's novels, but thoroughly enjoyed this one. Antoinette was a refreshing voice and completely relatable. Her case was interesting and well-plotted, leaving you constantly guessing. As per a typical French novel, you don't receive just a simple mystery; each of her books comes with a backstory. In this one, we see Antoinette battling her demons and her inability to fit in with her Squad. Are they really out to get her, or is it all in her head? It's true that French's books probably aren't for everyone. There's a lot of talking, a lot of expounding, and a lot of knowing what her characters are thinking. But, in turn, you're presented with characters who are so complex, so rich and in-depth. It's amazing. I've said it in previous reviews, but I love that when I open one of French's novels, I know that I'll be completely transported into another world for a few days. Her writing is strong that you completely inhabit her characters and their environment.
Antoinette, as mentioned, is a complex female character -- strong yet vulnerable and just completely refreshing to find in a detective novel. Her relationship with Moran was very enjoyable to read about, especially after hearing about their initial early meeting in The Secret Place from Moran's point of view. There's a humor to Conway, lending levity when needed, but also a dark side. She's bitter with the world for a reason. Because the entire book is told from her perspective, we're figuring out the mystery with her, learning facts and alibis as she does, and unraveling the plot along with our detective. Of course, we're limited to seeing the case from her perspective, too. As Moran and Conway try to determine who they can trust, so do we. The book expertly leaves you guessing with the plot; it takes you in one direction early in an incredibly convincing matter. It also skillfully takes you inside the Squad, allowing us to see not only how a case is run, but the inner politics.
In this way, the novel is not just a well-crafted mystery but a lovely treatise on relationships and friendships and the lengths we go for both. I'm also left amazed at how much French can put into a novel. Her way with words is magical, and I just love her books, her stories, and her characters. I highly recommend this novel, or any of her earlier work. 4.5 stars.
You can read my review of THE SECRET PLACE here and the fourth book in the Murder Squad series, BROKEN HARBOR, here.
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