The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad Series #5)

( 35 )

Overview

The sensational new novel from “one of the most talented crime writers alive” (The Washington Post)

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 saysI 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...

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The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad Series #5)

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Overview

The sensational new novel from “one of the most talented crime writers alive” (The Washington Post)

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 saysI 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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Tana French's latest Dublin Murder Squad mystery unfolds in a single day and drops us deeply into the secretive, circuitous world of adolescent girl relationships. For Detective Stephan Moran, that immersion began with a photograph brought to him one morning by a 16-year-old girl. It carries a haunting inscription: "I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM." As Moran and his skeptical detective partner Antoinette Conway pursue leads, they learn that they must first penetrate the ever-changing alliances of young girl friendships. A artfully tangled mystery from the master who gave us In The Woods and Broken Harbor.

The New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
With her awesome facility at girl-speak, French constructs an idiom that is clever and crude and vulgar and vicious in one breath and deeply, profoundly tragic in the next.
Publishers Weekly
★ 07/28/2014
In French’s mesmerizing fifth Dublin Murder Squad mystery (after 2012’s Broken Harbor), Det. Stephen Moran, who works in the cold-case unit, is biding his time until he can make the Murder Squad. When 16-year-old Holly Mackey, a colleague’s daughter, shows up with a clue to an old crime, Moran sees his chance. A student at St. Kilda’s boarding school, Holly vividly remembers the previous year’s murder of Chris Harper, a popular teen from Colm’s, the neighboring boys’ school. From the St. Kilda’s personal notice board known as the Secret Place, Holly brings Moran a photo of Chris with the words “I know who killed him” pasted across his chest. Moran joins forces with the murder squad’s feisty Det. Antoinette Conway, and the pair visit the school, setting off a chain of events that ensnares Holly and her three best mates. French stealthily spins a web of teenage secrets with a very adult crime at the center. Agent: Darley Anderson, Darley Anderson Literary, TV & Film Agency. (Sept.)
Library Journal
04/15/2014
A year after the body of swoon-worthy Chris Harper was dumped at St. Kilda's, a girls' school in a Dublin suburb, student Holly Mackey gives Det. Stephen Moran a photo of Chris she's found with the words "I know who killed him" inscribed on the back. From the multi-award-winning and New York Times best-selling French.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-07-02
A hint of the supernatural spices the latest from a mystery master as two detectives try to probe the secrets teenage girls keep—and the lies they tell—after murder at a posh boarding school. The Dublin novelist (Broken Harbor, 2012, etc.) has few peers in her combination of literary stylishness and intricate, clockwork plotting. Here, French challenges herself and her readers with a narrative strategy that finds chapters alternating between two different time frames and points of view. One strand concerns four girls at exclusive St. Kilda's who are so close they vow they won't even have boyfriends. Four other girls from the school are their archrivals, more conventional and socially active. The novel pits the girls against each other almost as two gangs, with the plot pivoting on the death of a rich boy from a nearby school who had been sneaking out to see at least two of the girls. The second strand features the two detectives who spend a long day and night at the school, many months after the unsolved murder. Narrating these chapters is Stephen, a detective assigned to cold cases, who receives an unexpected visit from one of the girls, Holly, a daughter of one of Stephen's colleagues on the force, who brings a postcard she'd found on a bulletin board known as "The Secret Place" that says "I know who killed him." The ambitious Stephen, who has a history with both the girl and her father, brings the postcard to Conway, a hard-bitten female detective whose case this had been. The chapters narrated by Stephen concern their day of interrogation and investigation at the school, while the alternating ones from the girls' perspectives cover the school year leading up to the murder and its aftermath. Beyond the murder mystery, which leaves the reader in suspense throughout, the novel explores the mysteries of friendship, loyalty and betrayal, not only among adolescents, but within the police force as well. Everyone is this meticulously crafted novel might be playing—or being played by—everyone else.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670026326
  • Publisher: Viking Adult
  • Publication date: 9/2/2014
  • Series: Dublin Murder Squad Series , #5
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Tana French

Tana French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the United States, and Malawi. She is the author of In the Woods (winner of the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards), The
Likeness, Faithful Place
and Broken Harbor (winner of the Los Angeles Times prize for Best Mystery/Thriller). She lives in Dublin with her husband and two children.

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Read an Excerpt

***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***

Copyright © 2014 Tana French

Holly dumped her schoolbag on the floor. Hooked a thumb under her lapel, to point the crest at me. Said, ‘I go to Kilda’s now.’ And watched me.

St Kilda’s: the kind of school the likes of me aren’t supposed to have heard of. Never would have heard of, if it wasn’t for a dead young fella.

Girls’ secondary, private, leafy suburb. Nuns. A year back, two of the nuns went for an early stroll and found a boy lying in a grove of trees, in a back corner of the school grounds. At first they thought he was asleep, drunk maybe. The full-on nun-voice thunder: Young man! But he didn’t move.

Christopher Harper, sixteen, from the boys’ school one road and two extra-high walls away. Sometime during the night, someone had bashed his head in.

Enough manpower to build an office block, enough overtime to pay off mortgages, enough paper to dam a river. A dodgy janitor, handyman, something: eliminated. A classmate who’d had a punch-up with the victim: eliminated. Local scary non-nationals seen being locally scary: eliminated.

Then nothing. No more suspects, no reason why Christopher was on St Kilda’s grounds. Then less overtime, and fewer men, and more nothing. You can’t say it, not with a kid for a victim, but the case was done.

Holly pulled her lapel straight again. ‘You know about Chris Harper,’ she said. ‘Right?’

‘Right,’ I said. ‘Were you at St Kilda’s back then?’

‘Yeah. I’ve been there since first year.’

And left it at that, making me work for every step. One wrong question and she’d be gone, I’d be thrown away: got too old, another useless adult who didn’t understand. I picked carefully.

‘Are you a boarder?’

‘The last two years, yeah.’

‘Were you there the night it happened?’

‘The night Chris got killed.’

Blue flash of annoyance. No patience for pussyfooting, or anyway not from other people.

‘The night Chris got killed,’ I said. ‘Were you there?’

‘I wasn’t there there. Obviously. But I was in school, yeah.’

‘Did you see something? Hear something?’

Annoyance again, sparking hotter this time. ‘They already asked me that. The Murder detectives. They asked all of us, like, a thousand times.’

I said, ‘But you could have remembered something since. Or changed your mind about keeping something quiet.’

‘I’m not stupid. I know how this stuff works. Remember?’ She was on her toes, ready to head for the door.

Change of tack. ‘Did you know Chris?’

Holly quieted. ‘Just from around. Our schools do stuff together; you get to know people. We weren’t close, or anything, but our gangs had hung out together a bunch of times.’

‘What was he like?’

Shrug. ‘A guy.’

‘Did you like him?’

Shrug again. ‘He was there.’

I know Holly’s da, a bit. Frank Mackey, Undercover. You go at him straight, he’ll dodge and come in sideways; you go at him sideways, he’ll charge head down. I said, ‘You came here because there’s something you want me to know. I’m not going to play guessing games I can’t win. If you’re not sure you want to tell me, then go away and have a think till you are. If you’re sure now, then spit it out.’

Holly approved of that. Almost smiled again; nodded instead.

‘There’s this board,’ she said. ‘In school. A noticeboard. It’s on the top floor, across from the art room. It’s called the Secret Place. If you’ve got a secret, like if you hate your parents or you like a guy or whatever, you can put it on a card and stick it up there.’

No point asking why anyone would want to. Teenage girls: you’ll never understand.

‘Yesterday evening, me and my friends were up in the art room – we’re working on this project. I forgot my phone up there when we left, but I didn’t notice till lights-out, so I couldn’t get it then. I went up for it first thing this morning, before breakfast.’

Coming out way too pat; not a pause or a blink, not a stumble. Another girl, I’d’ve called bullshit. But Holly had practice, and she had her da; for all I knew, he took a statement every time she was late home.

‘I had a look at the board,’ Holly said. Bent to her schoolbag, flipped it open. ‘Just on my way past.’

And there it was: the hand hesitating above the green folder. The extra second when she kept her face turned down to the bag, away from me, ponytail tumbling to hide her. Not ice-cream-cool and smooth right through, after all.

Then she straightened and met my eyes again, blank-faced. Her hand came up, held out the green folder. Let go as soon as I touched it, so quick I almost let it fall.

‘This was on the board.’

The folder said ‘Holly Mackey, 4L, Social Awareness Studies’, scribbled over. Inside: clear plastic envelope. Inside that: a thumbtack, fallen down into one corner, and a piece of card.

I recognised the face faster than I’d recognised Holly’s. He had spent weeks on every front page and every TV screen, on every department bulletin.

This was a different shot. Caught turning over his shoulder against a blur of spring-green leaves, mouth opening in a laugh. Good-looking. Glossy brown hair, brushed forward boyband-style to thick dark eyebrows that sloped down at the outsides, gave him a puppydog look. Clear skin, rosy cheeks; a few freckles along the cheekbones, not a lot. A jaw that would’ve turned out strong, if there’d been time. Wide grin that crinkled his eyes and nose. A little bit cocky, a little bit sweet. Young, everything that rises green in your mind when you hear the word young. Summer romance, baby brother’s hero, cannon-fodder.

Glued below his face, across his blue T-shirt: words cut out of a book, spaced wide like a ransom note. Neat edges, snipped close.

I know who killed him

Holly watching me, silent.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(19)

4 Star

(4)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2014

    Lyra

    Plz needs hot guy! Is 14 yrld girl with silky brown hair, perfect features, curves, and hot attitude.

    3 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 2, 2014

    I found it interesting to hear the teenage girl side of the stor

    I found it interesting to hear the teenage girl side of the story.    The way they told the tale and how their conversations went made me think back to my days in school.   How I thought I knew my friends so well and that we told each other everything, then the rumors and gossip would start.    I enjoyed that there were two groups, the popular better than everyone else and the wierdo’s.    It was entertaining watching them place the blame on each other all while not really knowing who the actual killer was.  




    Throughout the story I had many theories as to who the actual killer was.   Tana French did an excellent job at keeping me guessing and not truly giving away the real killer until last part of the story.   As my first Dublin Murder Squad book I was not familiar with the characters, but this did not slow down my reading and hinder my enjoyment of the story.  It was nice that I could just pick up the book and read without having to learn the background of every character and the history of their relationships.  








    I will be looking for more of this series and certainly checking out the past books.   A good mystery is hard to find and I believe this is one of the best I have read in  quite a while.   

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2014

    Much better than the last one!

    I was almost scared to read it as her last one left me pretty depressed. From the characters to the mystery, this book was exceptional-kept me guessing the whole way through! Great read!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2014

    "The Secret Place" by Tana French is the latest book t

    "The Secret Place" by Tana French is the latest book that I've been reading. I have to say, it's really not up my alley, so
    to speak. I've tried to analyze why I didn't enjoy this book as much as I thought I would. Mainly, I think it's because
    Tana French is an english-style writer. For many of you, that's not a bad thing. But I found that with other books who's
    authors were from across the pond I was similarly unsatisfied with. This made me think that it just may be me. With
    some analysis, that's generally the conclusion I came to.

    Although it was never diagnosed, I know I have a mild form of dyslexia. My brain, early on, figured out how to
    rearrange the letters to get the words right, without any conscious help from me. I think reading non-North American
    authors makes my brain stutter a little, making reading just that much less enjoyable. Reading a page always takes
    me more time than others but if I'm unused to the cadence of the author's style, if she's foreign, then it takes even
    more time for my brain to acclimate. This makes reading just less enjoyable and more work.

    For you, my readers, this translates to the following. If you find yourself liking English or foreign type authors, then
    you'll probably like this novel. Let's just get that out of the way, the mystery of this book rocks. You don't know who
    did it, you are kept guessing throughout the book and you're given both red herrings and also little clues that keep the
    interest there and simmering. Also, Tana French's take on how teen girls talk and act, I think, is spot on. Some
    reviewers thought the speech patterns and weird words were just too over the top. But I found it reminded me of when
    I was their age. In the early eighties I tried to add "valley girl" lexicon to my speech, trying to be unique and different
    from the grown ups. We all, at that age, think we have a handle on what's NEW and BETTER and no one can tell us
    different. Tana French's writing easily brings all those memories back. She also handles the relationships between girls
    and also between girls and boys expertly. It came off as so beautifully real. The angst, the need to be liked, to not be
    the teased girl and to either stay under the radar or to want the opposite, to be the star. All of that is handled so
    expertly and I have to give kudos to the author.

    I didn't, however, like how bitter the main police detective was. But again, I'm tending to put that down to the foreign
    writer thing again. Prejudice is different in every country. Canada has different prejudices than the US and we express
    them differently. I just find the classist attitudes off putting in this book. Otherwise it was very enjoyable and kept my
    interest.

    I'm giving this book three stars out of five. If you like authors from the UK though, you should probably add a star to my
     review. You'll find yourself liking this book if you've also enjoyed other authors from the UK. 

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2014

    Sbolya47@gmail.com

    Add me plz

    2 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2014

    Best Dublin Murder Squad yet

    I have loved all of Tana French's novels, but this one has been my favorite yet. She captured the heightened state of adolescence beautifully, and again imbued her landscapes with a mystical quality. Wonderful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2014

     I have read all of the other books in the series and I couldn't

     I have read all of the other books in the series and I couldn't get past the first 100 pages of this one.   Perhaps this novel is intended for the young adult genre, I wish I would have known that prior to purchasing it.  

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2014

    Loved it!

    Loved it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2014

    ugh too wordy too much of everything

    one of those books you can only finish by jumping ahead 50 pages at at time. Way too wordy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 27, 2014

    An adventure in English

    Well composed mystery.anyone with a taste for unique language will have a great time.
    Joy ran flow.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2014

    Great if you're a teenage girl!

    I was obsessed and amazed while reading THE LIKENESS, FAITHFUL PLACE, and BROKEN HARBOR. I enjoyed INTO THE WOODS also. Therefore I was eager to get into THE SECRET PLACE. I read it-waiting for the magic-which never came. I taught teenagers for 15 years. I am not interested in their romances, teasing, or cell phone obsessions. Read it if you're into teenage issues.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2014

    Highly Recommended

    I really like her writing. Her characters are fully developed and seem like people you know. I like the way they talk, too. This was a really engrossing read. I was hoping it would turn out this way.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2014

    Superb!

    I love how Tana French weaves through the story. I have read all of Tana's books and each one was more intriguing. This book is for anyone who loves a good mystery that keeps you guessing until the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2014

    TOPS!

    I highly recommend The Secret Place. Tana French is my favorite writer of detective stories. Her characters are real (in this case, boarding school girls) and the plots draw the reader in immediately.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 26, 2014

    Confusing

    It's much more difficult to get into this story than her others -- a lot of names of adolescent girl characters only one of which we really know, and I found I've had to put it aside for awhile and start over again and see if I'm less confused. But, her writing is still great, and I'm thrilled at the choice of her lead female character so far.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2014

    Boring

    Starts out interesting, bogs down in the middle, then is excruciating in boring to the end .

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 23, 2014

    Frank, Stephen and Holly are all three back in The Secret Place,

    Frank, Stephen and Holly are all three back in The Secret Place, they were all three in Faithful Place.

    If you read Faithful Place you will know that Frank's brother killed someone and his daughter Holly had to testify against him with the help
     of Stephen who arrested him. Tana's characters always tie in so well from story to story as the main character changes.

    Okay. So Holly has grown up quite a bit and is now attending St. Kilda's, an all girl's boarding school, which of course Frank can't afford
     but his ex-wife, whom he is trying to work things out with, can. Holly's best friends, Selena, Jules, and Becca all go to St. Kilda's to and
     they all room together.

    St. Kilda's has a bulletin board where the girls can anonymously post their secrets and Holly comes to see Stephen saying she found
     a secret that says "I know who killed him", him being Christopher Harper who got his head bashed in one night on the grounds of
     St. Kilda's. So Stephen takes the note to the detective in the murder squad who worked the case, Antoinette Conway, and the
    investigation that had went cold is suddenly on fire. Not having a partner and because Stephen gave her the note Detective Conway
     decides to let Stephen along for the ride to St. Kilda's to find out who put up the note and do they really know who killed Chris Harper
     or is this just a gag?

    I like YA Fiction but for some reason all the girl's and their constant backstabbing stories in the book just annoyed the crap out of me,
     this is the big reason the rating I will be giving the book at the end of the this post is so low compared to her other books. This is just
     my opinion so this shouldn't deter you to much from picking up this book if you can handle all the drama that goes with it.

    Detective Conway and Stephen question the girls that had access to the board later in the evening which was only two groups: Holly
     and her friends and their arch rival's, Joanne, Gemma, Orla, and Alison, who are supposedly the cool kids but are so stuck up I bet not
     one single girl in that school left there unscorned by this group.

    There is a constant back and forth as the girls continually blame each other for putting up the note. See Chris Harper was a ladies
     man so both Joanne and Selena have quite the motive for wanting Chris dead. Thanks to the fact that they got access to Chris's text
     messages Conway and Stephen were able to start unrivaling the she said, no she said, bull from coming from the girls.

    Holly's dad, Frank, shows up so that they can question his daughter more aggressively, for both the detectives know that she
     is definitely holding something back. 

    Weaving back and forth between all these girls was definitely a buzz kill for me as I stated above but the reasons for the actual
     murder was so juvenile, yes I know these kids are teenagers but still where is their sense of right and wrong.

    Quite a tale but not one of my favorite books by her.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 22, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Until I¿d navigated the shoals of Irish teen speak in SKIPPY DIE

    Until I’d navigated the shoals of Irish teen speak in SKIPPY DIES by Paul Murray, I might have been dismissive of the enormous skill it takes to recreate the speech patterns of a dozen teens. By now I am inoculated against scorn for the abbreviations and <em>slangerizing</em>
    of words that compose ordinary conversation, and parse much more quickly now.

    Tana French’s sleight of hand places in parallel the confusing world of just-awakening teens alongside squads of police learning their craft in the harsh and unforgiving world of crime. By juxtaposing the two groups, we see the seeds of the men and women the teens will become.

    St. Kilda’s Girl School and St. Colm’s Boy’s School are just across the way from one another, and the boarders at each mix at dances or in the town shopping arcade called the “Court.” They try on their adult selves like clothes at the thrift shop—delighting and discarding with snide remarks and zings of pleasure.

    French slowly unfurls her story, showing us how teens so close to the right answer in the test that is life can actually get the wrong result. It is agonizing to share in the desperation of lovely, lonely girls seeking a closeness together they all feel but cannot preserve. French creates marvelously complex and fully realized girls, boys, cops, but one stands out: Holly Mackey, daughter of Frank Mackey, the detective introduced in FAITHFUL PLACE. Holly is sixteen with a mind like a steel trap. One can’t wait to see what she will become.

    Two detectives, Antoinette Conway of the Murder Squad and Stephen Moran of Cold Cases, work together for a day and a night on the year-old death of one of the Colm boys. Loners both, they approach the case from different directions. Antoinette takes a flashy MG to the tony school to “Get the respect.” Stephen would prefer to drive “an old Polo, too many miles, too many layers of paint not quite hiding the dings. You come in playing low man on the totem, you get people off guard.” Antoinette faces criticism and office taunts straight on, with hostility. Stephen instead sidesteps the sarcasm and, joshing back, lowers the tension while awaiting his moment to outshine the club boys.

    Detective Frank Mackey, both admired as well as feared, makes an appearance during the investigation and suggests the younger cops “go along [with their lesser colleagues] to get along.” Both reject his advice and earn his grudging respect. This may be French’s point after all: one must cleave to the notion there is something you care about more than the adulation of crowds. There may not be as much wisdom as needed in crowds after all.

    French involves us completely with the subterfuges of the young folk in the book. We know how teens are: smart, secretive, seductive in what they choose to share. But we also know they are not as clever as they think they are, and they cannot outrun the ghost of youth.

    I listened to the audio of this book alongside the paper copy. Stephen Hogan and Lara Hutchinson alternated reading and though the narrative shifted from  the year-old lead-up to the murder and the current investigation, points of view were capably interleaved. I was rapt for the duration of this stellar mystery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2014

    big disaopointment

    Love all of French's novels, but I coulnt not bear the tedious teenage babble going on for pages and pages. Boring.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2014

    I've read all of Tana French's novels, so I was very excited whe

    I've read all of Tana French's novels, so I was very excited when this came out recently. Sadly, it was a big disappointment. Sort of a Midsommer Murders meets Gossip Girl. No thank you.

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