Friday, 17 July 2015

The Secret Place

The Secret Place by Tana French
Published by Hodder Books
9th April 2015
Paperback Edition

The photo shows a boy who was murdered a year ago.

The caption says, 'I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM'.

Detective Stephen Moran hasn't seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she's sixteen and she's shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph and a story.

Even in her exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen has always longed for, bad things happen and people have secrets. The previous year, Christopher Harper, from the neighbouring boys' school, was found murdered on the grounds. And today, in the Secret Place - the school noticeboard where girls can pin up their secrets anonymously - Holly found the card.

Solving this case could take Stephen onto the Murder squad. But to get it solved, he will have to work with Detective Antoinette Conway - tough, prickly, an outsider, everything Stephen doesn't want in a partner. And he will have to find a way into the strange, charged, mysterious world that Holly and her three closest friends inhabit and disentangle the truth from their knot of secrets, even as he starts to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn't want to hear.

This is the first Tana French novel I have read, and I don't imagine that it will be my last.  This book reminded me in some ways of Donna Tartt's magnificent debut The Secret History but they are very different novels.  The book begins when Detective Stephen Moran is given a photo from a child that he met some years before on another murder inquiry.  The photo she hands him is of a schoolboy, Christopher Harper, who was found dead in the gardens of the boarding school where Holly is a pupil.  The photo has the words 'I know who killed him' stuck onto it, and that's all that Stephen needs to get him curious about reopening the investigation into Christopher's death.

Partnering up with the unpopular Detective Antoinette Conway from the murder squad, this could be Stephen's chance of promotion as he enters the world of St Kilda's - a Catholic girls school where the very elite of Irish society are taught.  The detectives need to tread very carefully or the whole investigation could come tumbling down around them.

The Secret Place in fact is a pin board within the school where the girls can pin messages anonymously.  The aim of the game here is to find out just which one of them pinned up this particular message, and to find out who their murderer is.  Only this batch of students isn't particularly forthcoming.  Some of the characters are 'like' so annoying.  They sound like the twins Whitney and Britney on my daughter's favourite show The Littlest Pet Shop - every sentence is prefaced with 'like' and they are all preened to within an inch of their lives whilst living on their mobile phones.  Oh the youth of today!

Tana French's The Secret Place is a good read though.  You don't know who the killer is, or why Christopher Harper was actually killed until the very end, and it's a great look into female cliques and of just how entwined teenage relationships with each other can actually be.  If you like crime novels, then I'd recommend giving this one a read.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

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