Review: The Secret Place by Tana French

The Secret Place

The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.

The Secret Place is a powerful, haunting exploration of friendship and loyalty, and a gripping addition to the Dublin Murder Squad series.

I don’t normally read crime, I have read maybe one or two crime books in my life simply because I had a pre-defined idea in my head about what a crime novel was. When I was given a proof of The Secret Place during a mentoring session with Auriol Bishop, I didn’t know if I was going to like it and if the first page didn’t hook me, I probably wouldn’t’ve continued reading. I am so glad that I was given this book.

Right from the first paragraph, I was in and I just kept getting deeper and deeper the more I read. I devoured this book. The switch between a dithering ‘oh, I’m not sure this is my thing’ to ‘this is totally my thing, I need all of it right now, I need to know, I want it, I want it’ was almost instant. I want more (and so I shall get more, the rest of Tana French’s books are thoroughly on my to-buy list). This book led me on a meandering path which I was more than happy to follow; I came up with so many theories that I think my theories might have had theories. From the off, I wanted to know who killed him.

There were so many twists and turns that I changed my mind about who the killer was – my first theory, it turned out, was correct but I had already changed my mind by then, sure that it was someone else. I definitely had trouble sleeping when I knew that there were more pages to be read and clues to be uncovered; Tana French is absolutely fantastic at suspense.

I dare you to read this book and not like it.

The Secret Place is packed with brilliant characters, top notch writing and suspense which quite literally made my heart pound and is doing so even while I write this review. This is an exciting book. A really exciting book and you really need to read it. Really.

p.s The paper it’s printed on is really satisfying.

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