Genre: Mystery/Thriller, Crime Fiction
A brilliant new novel from the New York Times bestselling author, whom Gillian Flynn calls “mesmerizing” and Stephen King calls “incandescent.”
Being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.
Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her—except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.
And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.
Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?
This is the sixth book in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series and I swear each one just gets better and better. It’s not necessary to read them in order, they stand on their own just fine. Each installment focuses on a different detective, though Conway did have a storyline in The Secret Place. I highly recommend the series as a whole, but if you want to jump in at any point it would work.
At first glance, the case that Conway and Moran are assigned to seems very open and shut. As a team, they’re the low men on the totem pole and they generally get tossed the easy cases, mainly domestic ones. Conway in particular is heavily disliked by her colleagues, she’s the only woman on the squad and she’s no delicate little flower. She’s brash, abrasive and snarky and she’s not afraid of any of the men on the team as much as they try and intimidate her. Moran plays the role of lovable goofball brilliantly, but underneath the fluff, he’s got a sharp mind and he’s a good detective. Once the two start diving into the meat of this case, it’s clear this is no slam dunk. Nothing is adding up and fitting together neatly as much as they try to force it, and Aislinn’s best friend and boyfriend are definitely hiding something, but what?
This is a dense and heavy read, but I didn’t want to miss a single word. French’s writing style really appeals to me, it’s so gritty and raw and she nails dialogue like no other. My favorite scenes were when a suspect was being interrogated, watching the process is so fascinating. The way Conway and Moran play against each other in order to tangle a suspect in a web without them even realizing it was just brilliant. Police politics were heavily at play here and witnessing how a murder squad works behind the scenes always intrigues me. Immersing myself into the atmosphere here was easy, things are bleak and dark, but having Dublin as a backdrop always speaks to me. I love reading their slang and imagining their conversations in brogues.
This is not a fast read with brisk pacing, rather it’s a slower read, but one that is methodically plotted and planned. There are plenty moments of misdirection and red herrings, with turns that are unexpected and astonishing. Things are intricate and complicated, both with the case and with the entire cast of characters. I’m always reminded of Karin Slaughter when I read Tana French, and if you’re looking for a good crime fiction series to sink your teeth into, look no further.
Overall rating: 5/5