“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
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.
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!!!