Past entries in French's Dublin Murder Squad series provided readers with finely written narratives that detailed not only the solving of the current investigation, but also the detectives who work the cases. The Secret Place, to put it mildly, is a departure. While I don't want (or expect) French to write the same book over and over, I have come to expect a certain level of quality that I think is missing here.
The writing is, for the most part, still strong. French at her best is one of the most able writers around. But the prose sometimes drifts into vagueness and self-conscious literary pretension, especially toward the end. The story is still partly about the detectives, but there isn't much depth to their portrayals.
Instead, the focus is eight teenaged girls, students at a posh boarding school. There's a day-long marathon investigation of a cold case murder, with frequent flashbacks that return to the period around the crime. We see the girls squabble, text, emote, and evade their way through the tangled events.
The problem is that murder and teen angst don't provide nearly enough story for 450+ pages. So there are pages of earnest and slang-filled conversations, a dusting of the mystical (I have no clue why), musings and feelings and golden light. There is too much fill, when what the book really needs is much tighter editing and a more cohesive story.
I have to start out by saying I received this book as Goodreads First-reads winner.
I was pretty excited when I found out I was getting to read and review this book. This is the 3rd book I have read by Tana French and I think it's my favorite so far! It was one of those books that I didn't want to put down but also didn't want to end.
The crime in this story is the murder of Chris Harper, a popular teenage boy attending Colm's boys school. The author alternates the chapters expertly between the present day investigation of the year old murder by 2 detectives and the activities leading up to the murder as seen thru the eyes of 4 best friends at the neighboring girls' school. Each chapter pulls you in and leaves you wanting to know what happens next.
If I had to say anything negative about the story it would be that I don't even think the story needed the "light" thing (don't want to give anything away) but this book is a keeper and I will definitely recommend it!!