The Trespasser by Tana French
If you like crime novels and have not read Tana French, you need to. Her sixth novel, The Trespasser, came out a couple of weeks ago and is excellent. All of her novels take place in Dublin and have one or two members of the Dublin Murder squad investigating them.. She generally uses different detectives for each of the books keeping her characters fresh and interesting. The Washington Post calls her “the most interesting, the most important crime novelist to emerge in the last ten years” and “her work renders absurd the lingering distinction between genre and literary fiction”.
In her new book the Trespasser, Ms. French uses two detectives, Antoinette Conway and Stephan Moran, who first appear in her novel the Secret Place. They are called out to investigate a seemingly routine death of a young woman in her apartment. The death appears to be a straightforward accident/murder with the girl’s boyfriend as the primary suspect. Both detectives are unhappy that they don’t get something more interesting/important to investigate but go at it with professional integrity. The evidence is all circumstantial so the detectives pursue a number of other leads, many of which take them down rabbit holes. After many false leads, they eventually discover a potential cover-up by some of the more senior members of the murder squad.
Conway, the only woman on the squad is constantly harassed and threatened along the way which makes her think about quitting. It also becomes clear that one of the most experienced detectives is thwarting her investigation and trying to get her to stop following the various leads and just arrest the boyfriend. Her reaction to all of this is to have an immense chip on her shoulder and think that every member of the squad is out to get her. Ultimately Antoinette is vindicated in this psychological thriller. Despite the fact that Antoinette is persona non grata in the squad, her attitude gets somewhat tiresome after a while and makes Antoinette not very likable. However, one certainly can’t fault the brilliant character development achieved by the author in creating a very complex female detective.
Ms. French’s writing is award winning and the way she unravels crimes in her novels is exceptional. My only reservations with the Trespasser are the length (it drags a bit in the middle and is definitely a slow burn) and how unappealing Antoinette Conway is. I don’t recall the same issue in “Secret Place” however her role wasn’t as front and center. The novel is another winner by a really great author. If you haven’t read her, try her first novel, In the Woods, which won a number of awards including the Edgar. My favorite novel is “Faithful Place” and the only book I’d skip is “the Likeness”. I’ll be anxiously awaiting her next novel – hopefully it won’t take more than a couple of years.