Posted in books

CRM Review: Tana French’s “The Trespasser”

“I live inside my own skin. Anything that happens outside it doesn’t change who I am. This isn’t something I’m proud of; as far as I’m concerned, it’s a bare minimum baseline requirement for calling yourself an adult human being, somewhere around the level of knowing how to do your own washing or change a toilet roll. All those idiots on the websites, begging for other people to pull their sagging puppet-strings, turn them real: they make me want to spit.”
― Tana French, The Trespasser

The Premise

Dublin Murder Squad’s Antoinette Conway is a little let down by the squad. Her partner, Stephen Moyer, is great, but the rest of squad is vicious and harassing, and her cases are pretty straight and thankless.

Then a case comes in at the end of and overnight shift, and she and Moyer are put on what seems to be a lovers’ quarrel gone bad. The victim, Aislinn Murray, was a beautiful blonde, found dead next to a table set for a romantic dinner. Seems cut-and-dried, except it isn’t.

Aislinn looks familiar to Antoinette for some reason. Her dinner date doesn’t seem to fit into the killer box, although other members of the Murder Squad seem to be pushing hard for a conviction. Aislinn’s BFF hints that she thought Aislinn was in danger, and not from her dinner date. And, as much as tough, independent Antoinette wants to write off Aislinn as needy, she seems to much more than the passive beauty she presented to the world.

As Antoinette and Stephen dig deeper into Aislinn’s life and death, the more it all seems to loop back to the police and the Murder Squad. Is the harassment from her squad fueling her paranoia, or are others on the squad using this case to get rid of her? As she gets deeper and deeper into the investigation, Antoinette isn’t sure whom she should trust — and that includes herself.

My Thoughts

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Okay, a little preface. I was SOOO excited to get this ARC. I’ve been a fan of Tana French since I listened to the first Dublin Murder Squad book  a little over five years ago. It took all my willpower not to read this the minute I received it (I like to read a book just before their publication date).

And let me tell you why:

I like thrillers. I like good crime thrillers. I like a story that keeps me guessing the whole way through.

And I like a good drama, one that shows me the inner workings of people, presenting them with dilemmas that aren’t easily solved or overcome.

Tana French gives readers both. Her Dublin Murder Squad books are not at all formulaic, straying from the traditional crime novel. Her books are all involve the Murder Squad,but the stars of the show (or the book) vary. The main character of each book is a detective (or two) who appeared as a minor, although memorable, detective in a previous book.

This is true in The Trespasser as well, although Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran both were pivotal in French’s last novel, The Secret Place. But this time Conway’s the lead, showing us her ability to think outside the box while also giving us a peek into Antoinette’s insecurities and coping mechanisms.

French does both mystery and literary fiction well. She builds a great thriller, drawing the reader in because it’s a  real mystery. But she also presents readers with a beautifully written literary novel, showing us all the foibles of her characters live and (in the case of Antoinette Conway) in first person.

French gives readers an incredibly intimate look the Murder Squad, showing readers that it the top of the detective ladder, but also that it’s not all champagne and roses; the Squad is elitist, sexist, and racist. Conway’s thin skin seems to egg on the worst of the bunch, but that suspicious nature and quick mind are also what make her a great detective.

Conway and Moyer work incredibly well together, and seeing their minds play off one another is wonderful.

The beautiful thing about French’s Dublin Murder Squad books is her ability to take the crime novel to a place far above its normal, formulaic grind. She’s able to gift readers with the tension and readability of the genre  with deep, thoughtful characters and exceptional writing.

This is the 6th of her Dublin Murder Squad books, but they don’t really build off of one another. Other than going in chronological order, the only thing you get from reading the first book first is the appearance of characters in order (which is not really necessary).

If we’re keeping score, my favorite French novel was In The Woods, the first Dublin Murder Squad book. The crime and the character study (of the detectives) weave together seamlessly. Although the crime doesn’t meld quite as well in this book, there are similarities between Conway and the victim that work. But the in-depth look at Conway reminded me of the way we really got to know Rob Ryan in In The Woods (a character I would like to see again!!!).

I have to give The Trespasser 5 stars. For all the reasons discussed above, and because I couldn’t put it down!!!

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Posted in books

You’re not changing political minds on Facebook +”Dorothy Parker Drank Here” by Ellen Meister

a3bfca12d7843a01d60e1673264f86dfIt’s a little less than a year until our next presidential election. The election itself is something we all should take pride in, something in which we all should celebrate and participate. Prior to the actual election, everyone should become knowledgeable on the candidates and the issues, and should vote according to their conscience and their mind.

However, I don’t need to know your thoughts and ideas. If I want to know, I will ask you when I see you face to face.

I will admit that in the last election cycle, I was one of those irritating people who shared a bit too much of my mind on Facebook concerning my political beliefs. To those I offended, I’m sorry.

But guess what? I’m pretty sure sharing articles and memes, announcing my deep political thoughts and views changed no one’s mind. I know this, because no one else’s shares and feelings have changed my mind.

This time around, I’m still reading a lot of articles (on all sides of the issues) and making sure I’m informed. But I’m staying out of the fray on social media. I follow a lot of political people–candidates, political ‘operatives’, reporters–especially on Twitter. Sometimes I interact with them, but not often. I read what they have to say, peruse their articles, but I rarely retweet. And on Facebook, a place where I interact with many more of my friends and family? I now share NOTHING political.

Because what I believe, for myself, following my own conscience, is not going to change what you believe. It’s not going to change your vote, if you are actually voting according to your own beliefs. We might agree, and that’s all well and good, but we might not.

The reason I’m your friend, I hope, is because you have a good heart, and you follow your conscience. We may be on different sides of the political aisle, but we can agree on many things.

We love our families.

We want the world to be a better place.

We want to live our lives in peace.

We like to laugh. And maybe we like wine. And coffee. And fun.

These are the things that are important in friendships.

What this boils down to is this: politics is best discussed in person. And, if you don’t know what the issue is–well, Google is great for finding stuff out. Read about it before you spout about it. Or, if we see each other, or you text me or whatever, I’ll attempt to explain the issues or the candidates from all sides, from what I know. If by chance you want my opinion, you can ask.

But I know you’re not going to change my mind with your partisan article that hit all the points YOU with which you agree. And, if you and I do by chance fall on the same side of he political spectrum, we’re not changing minds with our articles. Even when, to us, they seem reasonable and smart.

Social media has given us spaces to find old friends and new ones, to find people we look up to and connect with them. But, when political season roles around, it’s a great time to lose friends by spouting your beliefs behind the seemingly anonymous computer or phone screen. We all like to think that if we like and respect a person, well, then they’re political beliefs must be inline with our political beliefs. But I try not to choose my friends by their politics.

So, I’ve learned. I’ll Tweet all about my girls and and the wonderful things they’re doing. I’ll ramble about my family on Facebook. I’ll Insta pictures of my dogs. I’ll even pontificate about the incredibly annoying commercials gracing the airways at any given moment. But I will NOT share any political messages.

At least not this election cycle.

Okay, onto the wonderful Ellen Meister’s lastest book–Dorothy Parker Drank Here


She had been so vulnerable, and Norah wanted only to protect her. But that vulnerability was tied to a massive mistake, a perception of herself too damaged to love. If Norah got anything from this book, it’s that we’re all damaged. The tragedy is letting it define you.

The Premise

Thanks to a fascination with the occult by an old manager of the famed Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan, Dorothy Parker has the chance to wander the hotel, continuing her spitfire, heavy drinking ways with the living and those passing onto into ‘heavenly peace’ with loved ones. Parker can find nothing wonderful about spending eternity with her loved ones, so instead she chooses an in-between existence. But her life is lonely.

When she realizes that literary recluse Ted Shriver, a man who once dorothy_parker3interviewed her, is at the hotel, she decides that he’s the guy who would be perfect to hang out with at the Algonquin for eternity. When she makes contact and asks him to hang with her after death, he gives Dorothy a huge, resounding “NO!”

Enter young, energetic, motivated Norah Wolfe, who comes to the hotel in search of Ted Shriver, hoping to get him to agree to a guest spot on the failing talk show for which she works. With her appearance Parker’s hopes rise, as she sees in Norah another chance at Shriver. As suddenly as they meet, though, the two embark on an adventure to save Shriver’s reputation and to get him on the talk show, leading them to the truth behind Shriver’s reclusive life. And this discovery, along with many other truths, could change everything for Norah, Shriver, and a slew of others.

My Thoughts

How can you not love a book featuring the wit and zingers of Dorothy Parker, a book which also gives us a glimpse past that facade to the truth of Parker: a deeply sad, disappointed woman?

And, although that’s all wonderful and beautiful, then there is Norah’s story! She’s really the main character, and her story is sad and hopeful, filled with secrets she longs to tell while still holding them close.

Norah is intrepid and smart, with ambition, passion, and zeal that help her discover the truths that she will share with the world while also giving her the push to share her own secrets and truths.

And Ted Shriver is the perfect literary curmudgeon. Smart, cynical, and reclusive, Shriver has a secret he has kept for decades, damaging his reputation in order to save a woman he loved and hurt. His redemption, along with the woman’s, is the heart and soul of the book, with Norah as their savior and angel.

And for Norah, the cynical, smart, meddling voice of Dorothy Parker continues to spurn her on. Parker is the catalyst that keeps the group going when each is ready to give up the search.

I enjoyed this book immensely. Meister knows a lot about Parker, and that creates a very realistic character (even though she is a ghost). Meister lectures on the legendary literary character and her cohorts (The Algonquin Roundtable), and runs the Facebook page for Dorothy Parker (find it, follow it–it’s lot’s of fun).

Dorothy Parker Drank Here is the perfect winter book. A little ghosty, a lot mystery, and a bunch of heart. Perfect for cold days by the fire with a stiff drink in your hand (Dorothy Parker style), or maybe just a cup of cocoa.

I’m giving Dorothy Parker Drank Here five (yes FIVE) stars. So much fun, lots of heart, well written, and engrossing. The characters are perfect and real (even the ‘ghost’ of Parker), and the story resonates. I think this would make a fun movie, and it’s a great book club pick!!! Get it now, and read it over the long Christmas break when you’re stuck with your family!!!

I LOVE it. I think you will, too!!!!