Tana French's brilliant whodunits
I’ve read 93 books in 2016 so far. This post is part of a series on my favorites.
The Trespasser by Tana French
Part of the Dublin Murder Squad Series
I look forward to Tana French’s books in a big way. French is a dazzling thriller/mystery writer, one of the best writing in the genre. If you’ve exhausted Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins’s catalogs—among other popular thriller/mystery writers—give French a try.
I can’t remember how I stumbled across French’s first book In the Woods (2012), but I've loved each of the five which followed in her Dublin Murder Squad series. A different detective of the Murder Squad narrates each of French’s books, and French is a master at giving each of them a totally unique voice and their own strengths and foibles.
The Trespasser (2016) is probably my favorite of French’s novels. It starts with the seemingly cut-and-dry death of a woman who has suffered a head injury but what follows is an intense psychological thrill-ride that is completely absorbing.
Perhaps what I love best about French’s mystery plots is that unlike some thriller/mystery writers, her killers do not come out of nowhere. With French, the suspects are typically presented toward the beginning of the book and then the net narrows until the killer is revealed; the most fascinating (and most terrifying) part, though, is that along the way French shows us that many of the characters might have had motivation to commit the crime. She plays with the reader’s expectations and suggests how complicated humans really are. In a similar way, though her narrators use the first-person pronoun and we have immediate access to what they see and think, we come to understand that we don’t--and can't-- know all of the respective narrator, not really.
Perfect If You: Want to get lost in a brilliant whodunit; like to guess that five different people are the killer before being presented with the truth (or maybe that’s just me; I would not make a good detective.)
Not Recommended If You: Are looking for a fast, quick thriller/mystery read; Hate feeling anxious (it’s just my default setting so I can handle it).
Hey! Over Here!: If you like Tana French or just the thriller/mystery genre, check out these other picks too: the book Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson (terrifying!); the Cormoran Strike books by Robert Galbraith aka J. K. Rowling (soon to be a HBO series, btw); the first few seasons of the television show Damages starring Rose Byrne and Glenn Close. Damages focuses on attorneys, corruption, and murder—instead of detectives and their cases—but every season begins with a provocative scene (i.e. someone covered in blood) and every episode which follows works backwards to show how the characters got there.
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