If you have a curious bone in your body then surely you want to know who killed him? And even if you don’t have a curious bone, surely you want to read a book with amazing characters and an intricate plot? And if you love books, surely you want to read one of the best (if not THE best book) published in 2014?The Secret Place by Tana French
Published by Hachette Books Ireland on 2014-08-28
Genres: Mystery & Detective
Source: Edelweiss, Won
The photo shows a boy who was murdered a year ago. The caption says, 'I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM'. Detective Stephen Moran hasn't seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she's sixteen and she's shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph and a story.
Even in her exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen has always longed for, bad things happen and people have secrets. The previous year, Christopher Harper, from the neighbouring boys' school, was found murdered on the grounds. And today, in the Secret Place - the school noticeboard where girls can pin up their secrets anonymously - Holly found the card.
Solving this case could take Stephen onto the Murder squad. But to get that solved, he will have to work with Detective Antoinette Conway - tough, prickly, an outsider, everything Stephen doesn't want in a partner. And he will have to find a way into the strange, charged, mysterious world that Holly and her three closest friends inhabit and disentangle the truth from their knot of secrets, even as he starts to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn't want to hear.
First Line of The Secret Place by Tana French:
“There’s this song that keeps coming on the radio, but Holly can only ever catch bits of it.”
My thoughts on The Secret Place by Tana French:
OK, hands up, I admit it, I’m biased. Tana French is my favourite author and I had high expectations of this book. But in a way that meant this book had to work extra hard to impress me. I expect nothing less of perfection from Tana’s writing based on her previous books. Well The Secret Place took my expectations and blew them out of the water. It was everything I had hoped for and more, so much more. It all starts with a note on a notice board in a post boarding school in Dublin. The board tantalisingly proclaimed:
I Know Who Killed Him
Well the anonymous writer may have known but I sure as hell didn’t. What followed was a well crafted murder mystery that towards the end had me reading with a pain in my heart. You form an attachment with the characters and I really didn’t want any of them to have done it. But there are lots of great crime fiction books out there so you might be wondering what sets this book apart?
First off it’s the writing. It’s lyrical, my eyes drink in the words greedily but then my brain grips them hard and ponders over them. In a few short phrases Tana builds up a setting and fills it with atmosphere. It’s all so real, all so visible, it’s hard to believe that it’s not you driving down the grand driveway to the mansion that is now a school, doggedly clinging to a chance to solve a cold case.
But as much as the writing is poetic, it is also desperately real. The characters are magnificently flawed. Never over the top or just for drama, just real. They mirror people I know in real life and at times the thoughts mirror my own. But Tana’s writing makes you face an honesty that often we don’t allow ourselves to think. The pace of the book is meandering. Everything is slowly revealed and we get the chance to solve it along with the detectives. One of my favourite parts was the chemistry between the two detectives (NOT a romance) and how they teased everything out, bounced theories off each other and grimly used all the tricks they had into getting information off the schoolgirls.
Something that took me totally by surprise is the whimsical element to the book. I have been thinking and thinking about this angle and I can’t resolve in my head as to what I think actually happened here. I do think it fits in perfectly with the book and adds a little magical realism to the brutal storyline.
I’m deliberately being vaguer than vague about the plot. I will tell you it’s about friendships, innocence, first love, betrayal and I can’t promise it won’t make your heart ache. It’s about 8 full of life school girls, 2 determined detectives, 1 detective/protective parent and 1 dead boy. But I can’t tell you much more. I want you to take this book, wander off in the maze, get lost and find your way to the end all on your own. It’s a great journey and I’m not going to rob you of it.
|Did I feel it?|
Who should read The Secret Place by Tana French?
The short answer is every book lover. The long answer is you love psychological thrillers, this is a must read. If you love solving mysteries, read it. If you like character driven detective books, read it. If you like books that feature strong, powerful friendships, read it. If you like books where nothing is black and white, read it. If you like words, read it.
Thanks to BooksUnderground for sending me a physical copy of this book with a matching bookmark after I won it on twitter. And thanks to Edelweiss and Viking Hardcover for giving me an E-Arc in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.