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The Trespasser by Tana French
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While my February binge-read of Tana French has reached its end, these mysteries remain some of the best novels I have read in a long while. They pull key aspects of police procedurals with a dash of Irish charm and leave the reader with a sense of completion, after a drawn-out story and systematic solution. Picking up a few months after The Secret Place, French turns the focus onto Detective Antoinette Conway, who came from a single-parent home and whose mixed-race background left her feeling out of place. Working the night shift with partner Stephen Moran, Conway joins him as they investigate an apparent domestic disturbance gone wrong. As they arrive to begin their investigation, Conway and Moran learn a little more about Aislinn Murray. Living alone, she appeared to have been expecting someone, with the table set for a nice meal. Conway soon learns that Aislinn had a new boyfriend, Rory Fallon, who had plans to meet her around the time of her murder. Fallon proves less than sinister during his initial interview, though his timeline for the night of the murder is flimsy enough that he could have turned up and committed the crime before following through with date night story. Turning up the pressure, in hopes of having Fallon spill, Conway gets nowhere and his forced to keep her options open.New avenues turn up potential leads, including that Aislinn apparently become fixated on her father, who disappeared from his family twenty years before. After being encouraged to forge onwards, Conway is left to chase down a gang angle. There is the additional angle as to why Aislinn changed her image a few years ago, dolling herself up and becoming more sociable. As she struggles to piece this case together, Conway receives a visit from her own father, who disappeared when she was little. This interaction is nothing short of a disaster and only serves to exacerbate a sense of being unwanted. Sensing parallels in her own life and Aislinn's past, Conway takes a new approach and revisits all the information that have on hand. It is only then that the case takes an interesting turn and turns up ideas that were previously hidden from her investigation. Filled with wonderful storytelling and an evolving narrative, French remains on the top of her game in this explosive novel, perfect for series fans and curious folk alike.

All six Dublin Murder Squad novels have proven to be a delight to read, with their winding narratives and strong cast of characters. The dedicated reader will see a loose formula to them, but this is not to say that it presents anything close to 'cookie cutter' in nature. Pulling the reader in to learn more about Antoinette Conway was the perfect approach for this novel, as she played a minor role previously and might have left some readers wondering about this slightly abrupt detective who allowed Stephen Moran into her case at St. Kilda's (see The Secret Place). French develops a number of other great characters, whose banter and placement in the story help push the narrative along, sometimes in ways the reader might not expect. Choice of the murder victim as well as the motive are also important to an effective story, which French has kept unique and yet timely as the series gained momentum. French is always keen on adding themes, which helps add new flavour to the story and keeps me entertained as I gather the threads together. The title proves to be the strongest theme for me, showing the various forms of trespassers that emerge. One could easily see that the murderer proved to be the most apparent trespasser that invaded Aislinn Murray's home, entering and leaving her body strewn on the floor after a struggle. Fathers to both Aislinn and Antoinette could also be seen as trespassers, having left their homes but invaded these women's minds at various points in the story's development. Antoinette herself may feel like a trespasser in the Squad, as she is vilified and treated poorly by her fellow detectives, turning against the only woman investigating murders. This trespasser sensation could lead her to depart, which would only fuel the rumours that Conway cannot handle the intensity of murder and the "boys' club" that it seems to be. The conscientious reader may see others, which are left to germinate for those who want a little more out of the mystery. These well-crafted tales are surely not for everyone, as the story takes time to evolve and the narrative offers slow and paced growth, but that is perhaps one of the greatest features, as the reader is forced to investigate alongside the Murder Squad. While I am caught up on the series, the binge complete, I cannot wait to see where else this series takes fans.

Kudos, Madam French for leaving me needing more, which only goes to show how effective you are at writing. I hope that many who read this and other reviews will find the time to at least try one of your mysteries and see for themselves that Ireland holds many gems, not all of which require a rainbow.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:
http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/
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Reading Progress

January 7, 2017 – Shelved
January 7, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
February 17, 2017 – Started Reading
February 17, 2017 – Shelved as: audiobook
February 17, 2017 –
page 0
0.0% "And so we read Book 6, with Antoinette Conway at the helm of the narrative. Thirty-two and a detective on the Squad, with Stephen Moran alongside her."
February 18, 2017 –
30.0% "Conway and Moran have landed a case at the end of their night shift; one that appears to be a domestic gone wrong. Someone called the police and directed them to the home belonging to Aislinn Murray. When patrol arrived, Murray was dead, found with facial injuries. Squad arrive and begin to sniff around at a potential new boyfriend, though he remains adamant that there is nothing to the accusations."
February 19, 2017 –
45.0% "As Conway seeks to prove herself to the entire Squad, she hold onto the role of Lead Investigator as best she can. Could Aislinn Murray's killer have been someone who was tied to organised crime? This opens doors to the backstory of her father, who left twenty years ago and how all that played out. Conway is happy to let things progress, but any delay and her head could be on the line."
February 20, 2017 –
76.0% "As the case heats up, Conway gets a break as it relates to Aislinn. Learning that her father left all those years ago did not seem to sit well with Aislinn, leaving her to explore the possibilities of finding the man. Working with Missing Persons, Aislinn might have tried to locate him and found herself liaising with the police. Could someone have targeted Aislinn for poking around??"
February 21, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-27 of 27 (27 new)

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Diane S ☔ Nonce review, Matt. I too love this author.


Matt Thanks Diane.


MadProfessah Which of her books did you think was the best?


Matt Hmm good question. I did like In the Woods best, perhaps for its ability to lay out French's recipe for success. But Broken Harbour was also very strong.


message 5: by Deanna (new)

Deanna Awesome review, Matt!!!


Matt Thanks Deanna!!


Susanne  Strong Really nice review Matt!


Matt Thanks Susanne!


Pamela Small Excellent analysis, Matt!


message 10: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks, Pamela!!


Jacque Fantastic review! If I wasn't already a huge fan (and didn't already own all of her books) it would have sent me into a buying frenzy!


message 12: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thank you so much, Jacque!


message 13: by Eric (new)

Eric Smith I should have persevered and kept going the series started out great for me but on book 4 or 5 I don't know which it just lost steam for me I wanted to reconnect with the characters from the 1st 2 books but it seemed like it focused on friend of a friend of another character I was fond of and couldn't get into it


message 14: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Understandable, Eric!


Ms.pegasus Glad you picked up on the ambiguity of the "trespasser" theme.


message 16: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks, I think.


MadProfessah Did you read The Wych Elm? It’s even better I think, even though it’s not a Dublin murder Squad entry


message 18: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt It is on my list, Professah!


Stephanie Nicholas I am a big Tana French fan too! I haven't read this one yet, it's the last of the six Dublin Murder Squad books I've yet to read, and I can't wait. I also haven't read The Witch Elm either, have you?


message 20: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt I am very eager to get back to Tana French soon, Stephanie. One of my book groups has us reading it soon.


message 21: by Pat (new)

Pat Ah yes, the wonderful Tana French. I must get back to this series soon. Oh dear, there are so many series I must get back to. Wonderful review Matt.


message 22: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thank you, as always, Pat!


message 23: by Meg (new)

Meg Sensenbrenner Do I need to read the series in order?


message 24: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks for the question, Meg. I always recommend reading a series in order. That said, the novels can be read as standalones, which becomes better understood when you read them.


message 25: by Deb (new) - added it

Deb Blanch Matt, based on your recommendation, have just purchased the first book. Love a series - currently devouring DI Gamache (and learning a lot about Canada) and before that, the incomparable Logan McRae.


message 26: by Matt (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matt Thanks, Deb. I am so happy to see you are enjoying some of these series. I have heard mixed things about French’s latest, but loved this Dublin series.


Susan I didn’t care for this one!


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