What a bloated, cliched, overwrought mess. I don't understand how this happened. Her first three crime novels were layered with well-developed, multidimensional characters.
This novel orbited around Detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, a peripheral character in her three previous novels. I was looking forward to getting to know more about him, but he turned out to be what everyone else judged him to be in the previous novels: rigid, narrow-minded, cold.
A family gets murdered, with the mother surviving, in the town where his family used to holiday. This brings up all sorts of emotional baggage - his mother killed herself there. I understand that such an event is traumatic and fundamentally affects a person and continues to do so for the rest of their life, but the way it kept being brought up, it was like a broken record. Nothing new was revealed, emotionally, just harped on. His need for control and success are rooted in that event. I get it. How about some growth?
It just didn't make sense. The ham-handed foreshadowing that led to a reveal about his partner and the reveal about what actually took place. Everyone in the story was crazy and it made me feel crazy reading it. I hated all of the characters. None of them were believable. The good friend who turns into a well-meaning stalking creeper? What? I don't recommend this book. I still recommend all three of her other novels.
A detective has to go back to the place where he grew up when belongings of his ex-girlfriend who disappeared 20 years ago are found by a construction crew. He also disappeared on the same night and hasn’t kept in touch with his family because his home life was a fucking horror show. He has to deal with them, his ex-wife, his daughter, and everything he’s been trying so hard not to deal with, but with good reason.
All of Tana French’s novels take place in Dublin, but, other than a few non-American English words, the reader would be hard pressed to know that it’s a “foreign” writer or novel. The people and their stories are universal, which is kind of an odd way to describe really intense crime novels.
I read Tana French’s first book, In the Woods, and loved it. All of her stories seem the same and, even if you know the formula and figure out the ending 5 pages in, you still can’t put them down. This book felt the most intense. Maybe it was just the story, but I know about physical abuse in the home and trying to protect siblings and what that does to everyone. I haven’t come across a book that shows it so well.
If you like the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly, you will definitely like Tana French’s writing. Fewer clichés and more intensity. The characters are all from the same police force, but the novels stand alone. I’ve liked each one better than the last.