The Secret Place – Tana French

The Secret Place, the fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad

The Secret Place, the fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad

The Secret Place by Tana French is the fifth book featuring the fictional Dublin Murder Squad. The narrator this time around is Detective Stephen Moran. He had a bit role in Faithful Place and worked as Det. Frank Mackey’s flunky. The one thing that Tana French has her fans looking forward to with each new release is who is going to be the next narrator in her next book? I’m not sure if I will continue reading her because The Secret Place wasn’t a successful read for me and I didn’t finish it. I may have to cut ties with her because Broken Harbor didn’t work for me either. It looks like Tana French is trying for mainstream and writing character driven novels with criminal elements. I love that about her books but… this time around the story seems more focused on the characters who are mostly teens. Update:  I’ve made a few changes because since I didn’t read the entire book I can’t make certain claims about it like the story being light on criminal elements. It felt like it to me. I skim/read to the end.

The Secret Place was disappointing. I didn’t even finish it. I read up to chapter seven and called it quits. Even though I didn’t finish it, I have a lot to say about it. The mystery is who killed the popular boy at school. This one didn’t work for me for several reasons. First, the story is set in an exclusive girl’s boarding school, St. Kilda’s. So, most of the teens in here are given a point of view. Holly Mackey, who is Det. Frank Mackey’s daughter, is center stage in this story along with her tittering friends. They are considered “the weird group” or outsiders and they are rivals with the “cool group” and I’m too lazy and don’t care to type out all their names. Another distraction to my reading is the language/dialogue. I’m not big on teen talk and each time “weaksauce” and “Amazeballs” or terms like them would show up in the dialogue I would groan inside. Continue reading

Broken Harbor – Tana French


Cover shows a empty room Broken Harbor by Tana French
Pages: 464
Series: Murder Squad Series, 4
Setting: Dublin

BROKEN HARBOR is the fourth book in the Murder Squad series that started off with the Edgar award winning novel, In the Woods (2007). The four novels are loosely connected and one can feel free to start anywhere in this series. Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy is a cop who likes high profile cases. He’s partnered with a rookie to investigate the murder of a family of four found murdered in their home in Brianstown, formerly known as Broken Harbor. That’s the basic premise but if you want more details you can read more about the plot description here.  To cut to the chase, this book was okay but overall a disappointment for this reader.

Broken Harbor was a major disappointment for several reasons which I will try to explain. When compared to the other books this author has written, this novel’s structure was kind of a departure from the rest. Broken Harbor has kind of a gothic feel to it and is a more leisurely paced novel. That last element about the pacing is nothing new for Ms. French’s books. Her novels tend to be very long and verbose and deeply involved. One of the disappointments for me was my lack of engagement with the story. I thought the premise sounded great but the execution of it fell flat for me. I continued to stay disengaged as I kept turning the pages in this book. Continue reading

Faithful Place, By: Tana French


Title: Faithful Place
Year Published: 2010
Length: 416 pages
Setting: The Liberties (inner city), Dublin
Format(s): print and digital
Series? Yes but can standalone
Book Source: Bought this myself

I finished Faithful Place, Tana French’s third book, late Wednesday night. It’s apart of the loosely connected Murder Squad series. The protagonist is sometimes a minor character from a earlier book narrated in first person. In this case, it’s Frank Mackey, an undercover detective first introduced in The Likeness. Faithful Place is a better novel I thought in that the author shows the devastating effects a crime has on a family. If you read In the Woods and wasn’t impressed, Faithful Place is a solidly written story with a better ending. So I wouldn’t write her off. The author’s strengths lie in her settings, dialogue, atmosphere and creating realistic characters. Faithful Place is a suspenseful psychological thriller / detective story that will take you into the dark, secret places of a dysfunctional family within a tightly connected inner city community. I could have finished this book in one sitting. It was that good but work and life got in the way. Continue reading

Faithful Place, Tana French


Faithful Place by Tana French (2010). I am reading this book now and it is seriously good. I enjoyed her first book, In the Woods that won the Edgar in 2007 even though the ending exploded all over the place in ridiculousness. Yes, I will grudgingly admit that Tana French is wordy as hell but her writing is compelling. Her characters are well developed. She has an excellent ear for dialogue and great sense of time and place. Forget all the naysayers. Read this book. Yes, it’s the last one published but these are all standalones following a different person from The Guards or Murder Squad. Will post my final thoughts when I’m finished and trust me, that won’t be long. Stay tuned. Update: Tana French next book, Broken Harbour comes out this August March 2012 July 2012. Declan Burke has all the details here and here. (update on book release)

In the Woods [Maddox/Ryan Series No.1] – Tana French


In The Woods” (2008) by Tana French won the Edgar award in 2009. This is her first book and it is apart of a series featuring Detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox. “In The Woods” is rich in characterization and atmosphere. There seems to be a lot of varying opinions about the author’s first book. I’ve been told that I’ll either love her book or hate it. Well, guess what? I enjoyed this book although the ending was like everybody said it was: disappointing. Warning: A few plot points are mentioned as well as a major spoiler about one aspect of the ending that aggravated readers.

The story starts off with a brief summary surrounding a tragic event. To set the scene, imagine a grainy film reel, showing you a memory of someone’s childhood. In the summer of 1984 three kids from Knocknaree Dublin went into the woods but only one came back out alive. Sole survivor, Adam Ryan, can’t remember what happened to his best friends Peter and Jamie. At the scene where the police officers find Adam, there’s a lot of blood soaked in his shoes but he can’t remember what happened before the police found him. Continue reading