Like the previous four Tana French books (all part of the Dublin Murder Squad series), this book follows a detective from the Murder Squad as they investigate a murder, all the while it gets sneakily personal and deep. Also like previous Tana French books, it is secretly obsessed with friendship, how connections between people are formed and broken.
This one she breaks the mold a little, though. Instead of following one detective as he/she investigates, all the while doing a deep character study on them, the book is structured in two distinct parts. The first one follows Detective Stephen Moran as he helps Detective Antoinette Conway–a “ballbuster” who none of the other male Murder guys like–investigate a cold case over the period of a single day. When an old co-worker’s daughter, Holly Mackey (Frank Mackey’s daughter, from book three), brings him new evidence in the year-old murder of sixteen year old Chris Harper, he knows this is the opportunity he’s been waiting for to finally make it onto the elite Murder Squad. The evidence that Holly gives him is a photo of Chris, cut out letters underneath spelling out the phrase, “I know who killed him.” It had been left by an anonymous student on the message board of St. Kilda’s school where students are supposed to confess their secrets, hence the title of the book.
Stephen is a really engaging character, but he’s a simple guy, and French saves her depth for the teenage girls. As Moran and Conway are working the investigation in the present, the book flashes back to the months leading up to Chris’s murder, to give us the POV Holly and her three best girl friends, who are somehow all involved in the case. French absolutely nails the experience of being a teenage girl, the arrogance of it, and the simultaneous insecurity. What’s it like to have your friends be your entire world. What it’s like to fall in love for the first time.
This book broke my heart.
I actually guess the murderer about halfway through because I could see where she was taking that particular character, but it didn’t diminish the experience of reading the book. Reading Tana French’s books isn’t about the whodunit, it’s about the experience of getting there, of luxuriating in her dense character work, and all the feelings she can stir up in you that maybe you haven’t felt in years.
I can’t wait for the next book, which will hopefully be out sometime next year, if her publishing pattern holds. HIGHLY recommend this series. Can’t actually recommend it enough.