Book Review: The Secret Place by Tana French

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Mastermind Tana French has done it again with The Secret Place. The latest addition to her Dublin Murder Squad series is an intricate tale of murder and mystery, sucking us in from page one and gripping tight until all is revealed. This is literary crime writing at its best. Sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey walks into the Dublin Police department looking for detective Stephen Moran. She hands him a photograph. Moran recognizes the handsome teenage boy at once. His name was Chris Harper, a popular and charismatic student found murdered a year ago on the grounds of Holly’s exclusive all girls school, St. Kilda. The case has gone nowhere, but now everything is about to change.

Pasted across the picture, neatly cut out are words that appear to have been sliced out of a book, spaced wide apart like a ransom note and say I know who killed him. Holly tells Moran she found the photo on the board outside the art room - The Secret Place. However, is usually covered with a mishmash of gossip and teenage girl musing, a way for expressing ideas anonymously.

Moran’s ambition has been to get a spot on the elite Dublin Murder Squad. Now he has a chance to prove himself worthy of being there, however he is teamed with a partner and neither of them completely trust each other.

Complex characters drive this suspenseful, intricate story, making it so much more that an action driven crime novel. While there is a murder to solve, there are also questions to be asked about loyalty, trust and friendship. How much is too much, how far is too far?

Intricate, well paced story line rounds out the attributes of this engrossing tale. A must read for mystery fans who like a cerebral spin to their reading. Human emotions and frailties wrapped up in murder, doesn’t get better than that.