Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Review of The Trespasser by Tana French (2016, Hachette)

Detective Antoinette Conway always wanted to make the Murder Squad. Six months of hazing and she’s sticking-in by sheer will-power and bloody-mindedness. Conway is no wilting violet and is well able to give as much as she gets, but the endless games of politics, psychology, harassment and being given the crappy cases are wearing her down. After a long night shift, she and partner, Stephen Moran, the only seemingly decent bloke in the squad, land a domestic murder investigation. Aislinn Murray has been killed by a blow to the head in her own home, a candle-lit dinner for two in preparation. At first sight it appears to be a straightforward lover’s quarrel turned violent. But elements of the case don’t quite add up and a stranger seems to be stalking Conway. Breslin, the experienced and charming cop assigned to help Conway and Moran, is pushing for a quick open-and-shut arrest of Aislinn’s boyfriend. However, the obstinate and suspicious streak in Conway wants a by-the-book investigation. It might be her last case, either through choice or being forced out, but Conway wants to finish in the squad on her terms.

The Trespasser is the sixth book in the Murder Squad series set in Ireland – a somewhat lose collection, with each book readable as a standalone. I’ve only read three, but this is by far the strongest. My issue with the other two was that they were overly descriptive and too long and could, in my view, have benefitted from an edit. This instalment also suffers a little from being overly drawn-out – French includes every single aspect of the case including full ‘unedited’ accounts of every sentence in every interview, all of Conway’s thoughts, rich descriptions of context and scenes, detailed explanations of procedural elements, etc. – but it is fully absorbing. The microscopic detail simply adds to the tension. This is aided by close attention to office politics and psychology and strong characterisation and character development, especially of Detective Antionette Conway, the first person protagonist. Complex and abrasive, Conway is alive on the page. The plot was a relatively straightforward police procedural with a well-telegraphed twist and a nice denouement, but it’s telling is beautifully executed. Indeed, The Trespasser is a wonderfully written, multilayered and intense tale that had me hooked from the start and never let go. Certainly the best Irish police procedural I’ve read in quite a while.


pattinase (abbott) said...

Have really liked all the others. Need to get to this one.

Rob Kitchin said...

I think you'd enjoy, Patti