Monday, September 15, 2014

#REVIEW - The Secret Place by Tana French

The sensational new novel from “one of the most talented crime writers alive” (The Washington Post)
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 saysI 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 of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.
But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships
that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.

The Secret Place is a powerful, haunting exploration of friendship and loyalty, and a gripping addition to the Dublin Murder Squad series.

My Take:
4 Stars
People who love fictional crime procedurals, police investigation, cold cases turning up new evidence, a detective in cold  cases who would love to move back into murder, etc., are going to love this book. You are either going to love this book, or you are going to dislike this book very much. I saw this in other reviews too. I just did not like it all that much because I didn't have one or two centralized characters I could hold onto like I'm used to. I did read and finish this entire 529 page new release (Sept 2nd) which took me over an entire WEEK to read because I did not want to pick the book up. There was nothing demanding I pick this one up to read.
I'm the type of reader who needs character development, personal interaction between other characters, I need to hear each other talking and giggling to each other on a personal level, not flashbacks like these were between the girls in the boarding school. I wanted to know someone's likes and dislikes are, you know, that character development that takes place in the usual way it does. We do not get that in this book at all, IMO.
I really, really, really wanted to love this book, too! I really did! I just couldn't. 'It' was not there for me.
This book had a lot of British/Irish slang to it I had to look up as I was lost! LOL! Thankfully there is the slang dictionary!
As for Detective Conway, the leader of the bunch in this investigation, she was MEAN!!! She had zero personality on the scale of zero. She just ran around accusing whoever it was at the moment and I wouldn't want to get near her to know her. No one can be THAT mean in real life ALL the time, (or can they?) spinning out her tires like she does every time. She was so crude, I didn't like reading the parts she was in. 
Frank Mackey, a Detective in Cold Cases gets to move back into murder like he's wanted to for a while now because of the new evidence in a cold case his daughter brings to light. He was the lead investigator of this case that happened over a year ago now, and here is his time to shine and maybe stay in Murder again? His daughter, Holly, a boarder in the Girl's school found a card on a private bulletin board, called "The Secret Place", where any of the girls can put anything they want to on this board and 'get it off their chest'. Last year, a boy from the boys school was murdered, and Holly knew him. Chris Harper. Murdered, and the case never solved, now cold. Holly spots this index card with the admission that someone knows something about what happened, grabs it carefully so no one sees her doing it, and she gives it to her father. Next thing we know is Detective Conway is hauling Holly's behind into the police department trying to frame HER for the murder of Chris for over the next 24 hours!
I can say one thing about Tana French. She is very long winded. I felt some of these scenes could have been cut out or shortened. It only felt like it made the book longer.
This story is told in a series of the girls' flashbacks. I thought I knew who did it, BUT had there been more character development with these characters then maybe I could have read into it better than what I did because I completely got it wrong. When the girls had the flashbacks, there was something huge missing in the writing in this book. I needed to learn who these girls were on a personal level in order for myself to try to guess who the murderer was, and the author doesn't give us a lot to work with except for very long scenes. I did not guess correctly.
Yes, this book is going to be praised, oogled over, aah'ed over, it will be a book of the month club read, and anything else it can be, but in MY honest opinion, a regular woman who loves mysteries, loves psychological thrillers, loves women's fiction, loves some new adult, historical, this book was just not for me. I've read a ton of psychological thrillers, which I have LOVED, but I still hated this book. It was written very criminological, to the point of 'matter of fact', and I was not prepared for that. 
So for myself who enjoys and needs more than what was offered in this book in the way of character development, even though there was a LOT to this book, it still made it to Number 4 on the NY Times Bestseller list! The other thing that made it extremely difficult to read was all of the british slang. I had one heck of a time understanding it. Thankfully I had my Paperwhite and I could look up what the slang meant. The bummer part was when I had my regular Kindle, I was not able to look up what the different sayings were, and I was lost. 
Before I get to the end here, I have read in other reviews, IF YOU HAVE NOT READ TANA FRENCH BEFORE, THIS IS NOT THE FIRST BOOK TO START WITH, AND I AGREE! Now that I have read this book, I don't want to read another of her books! A book was mentioned, but I can't remember which one it was, and I really don't care to go back and find out. Whatever the other 'better' book was would have to be pretty exceptional in order for me to even want to try it.
I received this book for FREE from the Publisher,  and NetGalley, in exchange to read and write a review about it. "Free" means I was provided with ZERO MONIES to do so, but to enjoy the pure pleasure of reading it and giving my own honest opinion no matter whether it is positive or negative. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the law set here:, The Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, 16 CFR 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising Federal Acquisition Regulation.


  1. Great review, thank you. I orally understand the lack of enthusiasm you experienced with this one and if a book doesn't ask to be picked up and read by someone who loves books, there's definitely a lack of some component there.

    1. Hello Babus,
      I'm sorry I JUST noticed your comment NOW! It's been ALL this time, and I TRULY apologize! Yes, this was quite the book, however, after all this time has past, I still remember this boook to a "T"! I did increase my rating because this book has stayed with me for SO LONG! I enjoyed it much more than what I thought I did! Sure surprised me! Consider this to be a 4-star read!
      Thanks for your comment!


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