It’s been a while since I’ve checked in on the Dublin Murder Squad. One thing I like about Tana French is that she isn’t as prolific as many mystery writers are, making it fun to reacquaint oneself with the setting and some of the characters. I didn’t like the last book, The Secret Place, quite as much as earlier books, partly because the story was all about teenagers and that I found detective Antoinette Conway too angry and paranoid. I wasn’t sure what to expect when she turned out to be the narrator of this book, except to know that she would be telling not only the victim’s story but part of her own.
Like all of French’s books, the story isn’t just about solving the murder, but about the murder squad and how the detectives operate. Antoinette is the only woman on the squad and after a couple of years (?) she hasn’t blended in. If anything she’s further on the outs than when she began. The harassment is real: reports disappear from her desk, spit in her coffee, nasty remarks about her appearance and sexuality. At this point she feels like the entire squad is undermining her. She doesn’t trust anyone except her partner Stephen Moran, and even him she doesn’t trust entirely. The career she had always wanted isn’t what she expected, and she’s considering a career change.
Just as Antoinette and Steve are finishing their graveyard shift, another murder case comes in. Rather than give the case to the incoming shift, their supervisor insists that they take the case. Already something is amiss. The victim is a young woman who has been murdered in her own home, no evidence of a break-in. It looks like a routine domestic case, she and Stephen are impatient, it’s not the big juicy case they hope to land. The obvious suspect is the slightly creepy boyfriend. Their supervisor and senior detective push hard to charge him and wrap it up.
Of course that would be too easy. The victim’s friend suggests there was another man, the only thing linking the boyfriend is circumstantial evidence, and Antoinette and Stephen want more.Like any good mystery there are several red herrings thrown into the pond. But who is throwing them in? Is it the friend? Is it someone else in the squad? Is there a cover up or are her colleagues just trying to destroy her career? Even when you know who did it, will that person actually be charged? Or has the investigation been so mucked up that no prosecutor could get a conviction.
Overall, it’s a good story. I’m curious to see who is working in the murder squad in the next book, I’m sure we’ll see some changes.