Tana French has a new police procedural/mystery out. The Trespasser (Viking, $27.00) is another work of lovely writing and superb plot craftsmanship. Those of you who know her style would agree that no one can craft a better sentence than Tana French. Throw in refreshing and unique similes and you will find the book is a pleasure to read, at least at the beginning.
As usual, French’s book is set in Ireland in the present time. Police detective Antoinette Conway is new to the Dublin murder squad and has hardly been welcomed by the otherwise all male unit. Antoinette has never known her father who apparently left before she was born. If an exact description of his nationality is there I missed it, but French describes Conway as “darker” than about everyone else in Dublin.
The Trespasser could have been subtitled, A Tale of Two Women Without Fathers. Aislinn Murray has been found dead. She apparently had a hot date the night she was killed although there is no evidence of her boyfriend being in her house. No DNA, no fibers, no hair, no nothing, although someone went to the trouble of to turn off the stove. As the investigation continues, Conway discovers that Aislinn’s father disappeared when she was about ten. His disappearance resulted in the same police department conducting a missing person’s investigation which ostensibly went nowhere, to the disappointment of the family.
Conway focuses on getting to know Aislinn through her best friend, who knew the victim since grade school. Conway suspects she’s holding something back, and is she ever correct. Aislinn has also left a password protected file on her computer and collected a number of books about the local gangster community. These clues create a tantalizing mystery about who the girl really was. A year or so before she died, she had reinvented herself, losing weight, changing her hair, and buying expensive clothes, going from plain to an absolute knock-out.
The “gaffer” (head of the murder unit) assigns one of the old hands to keep an eye on Conway and her young partner, who also has not been fully accepted into the detective squad. French casts this “spy” as a potential suspect, but as I have remarked before in my reviews, usually when a mystery author models a character as especially creepy — he’s not the one who did it.
You can read French purely for the artistly of her writing, but sometimes her level of detail and character development slow the story. The interviews of suspects are so full of detail they read like a trial court transcript. But still you have to admire a writer who can string a confrontation at the station out for seven or eight pages without losing the reader.
If you’ve read French before I didn’t think this was quite as good as the The Likeness, from a few years ago. I also thought the ending was a little flat and wouldn’t mention it except, my twenty-three old daughter thought the same. If you like Ireland, Irish slang (a gaff is a house), police procedurals and a decent mystery, I recommend The Trespasser. Overall I would give it a B+.
Steve E Clark as seen in the New York Times is Author of Justice Is for the Lonely and Justice Is for the Deserving. Kristen Kerry Novels Of Suspense. You can purchase his books via his site at www.SteveClarkAuthor.com/BuyBook or request it at your local book store. Want to know more about Steve Clark or read more reviews? Learn more about Steve on his website www.SteveClarkAuthor.com