The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad #5) by Tana FrenchAn alternate cover edition for this book can be found here.
A year ago a boy was found murdered at a girls? boarding school, and the case was never solved. Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives in his office with a photo of the boy with the caption: “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins with Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case—beneath the watchful eye of Holly’s father, fellow detective Frank Mackey. With the clues leading back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends, to their rival clique, and to the tangle of relationships that bound them all to the murdered boy, the private underworld of teenage girls turns out to be more mysterious and more dangerous than the detectives imagined.
The Secret Place
For her latest, she could not have found a better recruit. The Mackeys are so well drawn that this is not so much a crime novel as a fraught domestic drama in which people die of very unnatural causes. A year ago, Chris Harper, a year-old boy from a neighboring and equally fancy school, was found brutally killed in a grove of trees. No luck. But St.
Tana French’s extraordinary Dublin mysteries portray a city where everyone’s looking for a home.
Two detectives come in to investigate — each with their own agenda — and both know they only have a small window of time to find out who wrote that note before higher forces slam that window shut. The story flips between their current investigation, and the actions of a group of friends from the school pre-murder. I really loved how the story was driven by the complex relationships and hierarchies between the girls, and I thought French wrote teenagers brilliantly. Her most recent book, The Secret Place , is peripherally linked with two of the previous titles in the Dublin Murder Squad but is easily read as a standalone. I needed to find out who murdered schoolboy Chris Harper as soon as possible … But I was also hoping that I could make the book last forever.
Holly is the teenage daughter of a colleague Frank Mackey, also in Faithful Place and a boarder at St Kilda's school "Girls' secondary, private, leafy suburb. She has brought a message she's spotted pinned up on the eponymous "secret place", a noticeboard where the girls may relieve their feelings by anonymously posting their innermost secrets. Hard-bitten and abrasive, Conway isn't popular with her colleagues, and both she and Moran have a lot to prove. The characterisation of the girls is particularly strong: all the manufactured attitude, intense loyalty, harsh judgment and vying for alpha status with a rival clique in the way that only adolescent girls can. As well as divides of age and class, French handles the gender clashes superbly. These are especially effective between the two detectives, and also between Moran and the girls, who are busy testing their emergent carnal authority "Gemma wanted me to fancy her. The claustrophobic, world-within-a-world of boarding-school life is very well rendered, and French is pitch-perfect on twangy, whiny teenspeak, with plenty of authentic and authentically grating sarky italics and "um, hello"s, gushy "ohmygod"s and rising terminals.