Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series of novels, each told in the voice of a different detective on the Murder Squad, features a collection of distinct narrators, each with their own peccadillos. Based in Dublin, Ireland, and surrounding areas, the books discuss various aspects of Irish culture, the inequality and class divides, for example, that aren’t obvious from the outside. And French’s cast of characters, from green young detectives to jaded old-timers, brings life to her macabre and dark world. The Trespasser is the most recent novel in the Dublin Murder Squad novels.
The book’s protagonist, Antoinette Conway, is one tough cookie. First introduced in The Trespasser’s predecessor, The Secret Place, she is a hard-edged woman trying to succeed in a man’s world – the Murder Squad. Often feeling persecuted, not only in work but throughout her life – vaguely ethnic in Ireland, the daughter of a working-class single mother, a woman who has never met her father – Conway often feels that the cards are stacked against her. Finding spit in her coffee, having the final page of statement sheets stolen from her desk, these are not unusual occurrences in her life.
When plastic-perfect Aislinn Murray is found dead in her flawless, plastic-perfect home, Antoinette Conway and her partner, fellow Murder newcomer Steven Moran, are put on the case. At the end of their shift when the case comes to them, both detectives – but especially Conway – feel a bit of resentment at being put on a case that seems so clearly a lovers’ quarrel gone very wrong. But as they dig deeper into the case and realize that nothing is quite as it seems, and, perhaps more importantly, that certain members of the squad are paying much more attention to the case’s progress than they reasonably ought to be, the case takes on a life of its own and becomes something much darker, more complex, and more dangerous, than Conway ever would have expected.
As Conway and Moran navigate the case and their ever-growing list of suspects, and as Aislinn Murray’s plastic-perfect life begins to contradict with all information coming from her friends, the case – and the book – takes many twists and turns. As with all French novels, there are moments in The Trespasser that test the reader’s suspension of disbelief, but her writing chops and her skill at character building – each with a distinct voice, each fully realized, fully human, and terribly flawed – provide depth of emotion and power to the story. You care about every character, from the most innocuous to the most despicable, because nothing in Tana French’s world, much as in the real world, is as simple as it seems. The Trespasser may very well be the strongest novel Tana French has ever written. Buy it. Read it. Love it.
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