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The Secret Place

(Dublin Murder Squad #5)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  50,972 ratings  ·  5,846 reviews
A year ago a boy was found murdered at a girlsʼ boarding school, and the case was never solved. Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives in his office with a photo of the boy with the caption: “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins with Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case—ben ...more
Hardcover, 452 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Viking (first published 2014)
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Tracy King
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Paul I thought this one was excellent, but I loved Broken Harbor. Her only novel I didn't think was outstanding was The Likeness, which I enjoyed overall…moreI thought this one was excellent, but I loved Broken Harbor. Her only novel I didn't think was outstanding was The Likeness, which I enjoyed overall but had a problem with my suspension of disbelief with the premise.(less)

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3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  50,972 ratings  ·  5,846 reviews

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okay. so let me get the bad news out of the way. this book has disrupted my opinion-based observation that every single tana french book has been better then the one that came before. which is probably for the best - it was starting to feel downright witchy, her powers, and it is an impossible thing to sustain, this exponential improvement from book to book.

having said that, this book is still absolutely amazing and riveting and everything you want out of a literary crime novel. this woman is a
Emily May
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"If I've learned one thing today, it's that teenage girls make Moriarty look like a babe in the woods."

Tana French takes on the world of teenage girls. This book was 100% worth waiting for and, though I've loved all of French's mysteries, I think this could actually be my favourite. It was just so wonderful to get back into a book full of great characterisation, intricate relationships, clever red herrings and a writing style that so wholly fits my tastes. French writes the only kind of length
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
Giving this book a 2 breaks my heart. The Dublin Squad series by Tana French is among my top 2 mystery series of all time, and I've loved every book in the series - except for this one.

The magic is gone.

The writing in this book lacks the sparkle of the previous ones. It may be that the main character, Detective Stephen Moran, is particularly dull. The previous narrators have all absorbed me into their story, they all had such personality. Rob is tragic. Cassie is strong. Mackey a tough son of a
Jun 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“This has nothing to do with what anyone else in all the world would approve or forbid. This is all their own.”
Reducing Tana French's books to a simple concept of "murder mysteries" would be like describing Anna Karenina as "that story about the train".

I called them "intense psychological f*ckeries" before, and that also is not enough. I just don't know how to express my admiration for her skills in weaving bright and intricate and yet subtle relationship webs based in brilliant clever charac
Elyse Walters
Jun 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Almost a 3 star rating!

I liked the detectives! And, I wanted to know who the killer was, so I HAD to keep reading.
"The Secret Place" is NOT as good as 'ALL' other Tana French books. If you're a HUGE TANA FRENCH FAN (as I am) ---You might be disappointed in this book.
If you've never read Tana French before, do not start with this one.

I managed to enjoy this book *enough* --(in spite of so much tedious teen -adolescent- 'lingo').

'Sometimes I felt, Tana French was pretty good giving a vo
Damn, 2014 seems so far away… :( I am pretty excited to hear that we will be seeing Frank again, I love him. Now all I really need is that Tana finally decides to bring back Rob and Cassie (preferably together) so they can make up :).
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of psychological mysteries

Here’s how I imagine it went down:

French and her besties are at their high school reunion weekend. They’re sitting around drinking wine and reminiscing when someone decides to pull out the old ouija board from the attic storage. Much to their surprise, they channel Agatha Christie’s voice from Cat Among the Pigeons Flush with success, they try again, and discover Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes ( my review).

Alright; maybe I just have my own upcoming reunion on my mind. But I was
Few other books have conjured up the ghost of my teenage years as successfully as this one, dredged up the hazy remembrance of that first, most agonizing heartbreak, the subsequent amateurish cynicism summoned up to preclude the hassle of emotional hangups and the feeling of having only just the foggiest notion of how the world works.

It is awe-inspiring how Tana French continues to incorporate such authentic sociocultural commentary into narratives which are usually taken to be written for the s
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
Tana French finds new ways to dazzle and impress me with the fifth Dublin Murder Squad novel. Readers familiar with Faithful Place will remember Holly Mackey, daughter of Frank Mackey, and Dublin Police floater Stephen Moran. Seven years later, Moran is now working on Cold Cases and receives an unlikely visit from Holly, who is now sixteen and enrolled at St. Kilda's, an all-girls boarding school. Holly explains that the school has a wall where students can post anonymous comments about their li ...more
Dan Schwent
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
A boy is found murdered on the grounds of a girl's school. One year later, Holly Mackey drops a photograph into the lap of Stephen Moran, a Cold Case cop in Dublin, indicating someone at St. Kilda's knows who the killer was. He takes the photograph to the Murder Squad and gets paired with Detective Conway. Will this be Moran's big chance at getting on the Murder Squad or will the case tear him apart?

The Secret Place is Tana French's fifth entry in the Dublin Murder Squad books and the last to da
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
OMG, it was like HELLO? who killed Chris?

Tana French is the coolest writer this side of anywhere and her fifth entry in her fabulously well to do Dublin Murder Squad is the best one yet. Somehow, her writing just keeps getting better.

Detective Stephan Moran, from Faithful Place, and Holly Mackey, Frank Mackey’s daughter and also from Faithful Place, make this hypnotic and leaves the reader unwilling to put it down.

The relentless action begins when the picture of a murdered teenage boy is left on
Tim The Enchanter
EDIT - After giving this more thought, I have had to admit that this was a miss by Tana French's high standards. The fact is, even though it was not nearly as good as her other work, it was still great. If this were the first Tana French novel you were to read, you would not get the true Tana French experience. I have reduced my rating by 1 Star.

Posted to The Literary

Bronze Gavel for Best Novel of 2014

My #9 Read of 2014

A Rare but Excellent Miss - 4 Stars

I have not hidden
Aug 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Who killed him? Well, I guessed pretty early on whodunnit (though it wasn't blindingly obvious) there WERE plenty of distractions to divert us along the way, although I got the motive wrong, so not that smart after all eh? HIM being a teenage boy found dead in the grounds of St Kilda's boarding school for girls, situated in a leafy suburb of Dublin. There are eight teenage girls in the frame, and any one of the little monsters ( sorry, teens ) could have been responsible for his death. The quest ...more
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was the first Tana French book that I didn't love wholeheartedly. I still liked the murder mystery, which is set at a preppy girls school, but the abundance of teen speak made this a less satisfying read.

I did like the introduction of Detective Antoinette Conway (who becomes the focus of book 6, "The Trespasser") and her earnest young partner, Stephen Moran. The pair have a good chemistry and it was fun to see them adjust to working together.

My minor complaint about the dialogue in this boo
Alex is The Romance Fox

I had hopes of continuing the "high" after reading Tana French's previous book, Broken Harbor, which I really liked...but sadly no......The Secret Place, 5th in her Dublin Murder Squad Series...was a total not hit but a total MISS...

This was a cold case....the Murder Square had not been able to solve the murder of a boy, whose body had been found in the grounds of an all girl's private school.
A year later, new evidence comes up in the form of a c
Jun 06, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this book from Goodreads-giveaways and I wish I could have given it a better rating alas I was very disappointed.
Sadly I only managed to read 160 of the 518 pages in 12 days as I had got to the point that I couldn't bear to pick the book up to continue.
I previously read Broken Harbour and really liked it awarding it four stars.
In my opinion this novel is tedious, the characters easily forgettable, empty and shallow, hence I do not know who killed him and I don't want to know
Detective Frank Mackey had been Detective Stephen Moran’s boss at one stage, so when he was confronted with Mackey’s sixteen year old daughter Holly at the station, he wasn’t sure why she was there, or what she wanted of him. Holly had been a material witness for Moran some years previously and he hadn’t seen her since then. But Holly had a photo to give to Stephen Moran – a photo of Chris Harper who had been murdered at St Kilda, Holly’s school, a year ago – on it was stuck letters which appear ...more
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, audiobook
I'm over this series.

I keep slugging through these books, hoping and hoping that the next one will finally be great, and with every single one I'm let down and disappointed. Worst of all, I keep thinking about all the other books I'd prefer to be reading. Ok, I think my rant is over.

Another case, another murder for the Dublin Murder Squad- this one brings back a few familiar faces with Det. Stephen Moran and Holly Mackey- the spry teenager whose father Frank Mackey was the lead detective in a pr
Lindsey Rey
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, mystery
[4.5 Stars]
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
To begin this review I will simply say: I didn’t like this book. I believe the author/publishers have made a massive advertising campaign to get this book “out there.” This made my initial expectations very high and this book just fell flat.

Ok, so we have an all-girl school in which a visiting boy has been mysteriously killed. The case has gone cold, a year has passed. New evidence appears so the detectives are sent to investigate again. They question several students and we begin to see the dif
May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another enjoyable read from Tana French! The abundance of teenage girl talk was somewhat annoying but overall it was well written story that kept me guessing until the end. Chapters alternate between past (1 year ago) and present, so be aware of that as you're reading as it can be confusing.
Arielle Walker
“I know who killed him”

Tana French is one of those rare writers who transcends genre, and I would hesitate to call The Secret Place simply a “crime novel”. Though much of the plot does center on the solving of a crime, this is more a character study, an exploration of connections and motivations and the fleeting essence of youth. There are hints of magical-realism woven throughout, almost hallucinogenic, and we are never quite certain what is real and what is imagined - or if there is a differ
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Tana French’s The Secret Place, a year-old unsolved murder on the grounds of a Dublin area girls’ school lands in the lap of a Cold Case detective, Stephen Moran. Could be his big break, yeah? A chance to make an impression, help solve the case, maybe move up to Murder Squad. Not so fast. The Murder Squad detective in charge is Antoinette Conway, who is nowhere close to being in the running for Miss Congeniality.

Holly Mackey, daughter of Frank Mackey (whom we met in The Likeness and then lat
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-mystery
I love Tana French's writing and upon finishing this one I am a little disappointed that there is a wait for the next book in the series to come out.

The Secret Place follows Stephen Moran (someone we have seen before) as he joins forces with the original detective on a case involving a murdered teenager on a Catholic boarding school's grounds. The case has been unsolved for a year when Holly Mackey, her father being Frank Mackey from The Secret Place, brings him a card featuring the murdered boy
May 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ahhhhh Frank is back? YES! Love that grouchy detective.

Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Let me start by saying I have loved 3/5 Tana French novels. In fact, I would place her first novel, In the Woods, in my top ten favorite works of fiction. That said, I couldn't finish The Likeness. I couldn't even properly skim it to figure out the plot twists or whodunit and didn't care. It was with relief that I found that both of her next two novels were strong, and (please excuse my not having the titles memorized, I believe it was Broken Harbor?) the one with the young couple in the subdivi ...more
Description: The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash
Beverly Schneider
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am waiting (very impatiently) for Ms. French's 5th book to come out -- I am dying - waiting for 2014 to come!! Ms. French, I implore you, can't you please write faster and get this book to be available sometime this year - and while you're at it, could you please begin another book? My husband, friends, and I have literally devoured your first four wonderful books. I am so anxious to get my hands on "The Secret Place." I ADORE your characters, your style of writing, your methods of creating my ...more
Joe Valdez
Dec 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
The fifth novel by Tana French and #5 in a series narrated by a detective of or working with the Murder Squad in Dublin has the author racking the focus and interfering with the quality control that have made her series such a success. Opening one of French's novels is an act of treasure hunting, of thrills and wonder, like finding an old wooden chest in an attic and unlocking it to discover intimacy, secrecy, history, betrayal and redemption hidden inside. French's themes are back in black this ...more
3.75 stars

Love this author’s writing style but not even she could get me to be fascinated about the mindset of snobby teenage girls. This was a dry read mostly and didn’t get juicy until Detective Mackey made an appearance.

I sort of liked Moran’s flowery thoughts and Conway's edginess. Moran walked on a tightrope of suspense throughout this entire novel and his ultimate goal of making it onto the Murder squad kept him balancing away for dear life. I kept bracing for potential pitfalls in each co
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Tana French is the New York Times bestselling author of In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place, The Trespasser and The Witch Elm. Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry Awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.

Other books in the series

Dublin Murder Squad (6 books)
  • In the Woods (Dublin Murder Squad, #1)
  • The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad, #2)
  • Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad #3)
  • Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad, #4)
  • The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6)
“You forget what it was like. You'd swear on your life you never will, but year by year it falls away. How your temperature ran off the mercury, your heart galloped flat-out and never needed to rest, everything was pitched on the edge of shattering glass. How wanting something was like dying of thirst. How your skin was too fine to keep out any of the million things flooding by; every color boiled bright enough to scald you, any second of any day could send you soaring or rip you to bloody shreds.” 58 likes
“I love beautiful; always have. I never saw why I should hate what I wish I had. Love it harder. Work your way closer. Clasp your hands around it tighter. Till you find a way to make it yours.” 38 likes
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