Sunday, October 8, 2017

Another Winner from Tana French

This is an excellent police procedural and, to my mind, Tana French's best book yet. At its center is Detective Antoinette Conway who is new to the Dublin Murder Squad and who has gotten a very cool reception. Many of her new mates actively dislike her; she's subjected to continued harassment, and she's assigned a lot of crap cases.

The pattern seems to be continuing one morning when she and her partner, Stephen Moran, are assigned a new case that appears to be open and shut. An attractive young woman named Aislinn Murray is found dead in her home, apparently the victim of a lovers' quarrel that has spun out of control. The two detectives bring in Aislinn's new boyfriend, Rory Fallon, and question him under the watchful eye of a senior detective who's inserted himself into the case. Fallon is obviously nervous, and there are problems with the story he tells. To the senior detective, the case seems a slam dunk and he presses Conway and Moran to charge Fallon and move on to new business.

Conway, who is the lead detective on the case, balks and insists on clearing up loose ends. As she does, she further alienates many other members of the squad and seems to be committing career suicide. But she and Moran persist and gradually become convinced that maybe this case isn't as simple and straightforward as it appears on the surface.

Like all of French's characters, Antoinette Conway is a complex bundle of ambition, hopes, fears, dreams and doubts. She carries a lot of personal baggage, and at times, she's not very likeable. But she is smart and persistent and determined to follow her own course, irrespective of where it might lead, who it might offend, and what it might portend for her personally.

The principal strength of the book for me is the way French, through her protagonist, follows this case from beginning to end. The Author has clearly done her homework, and the police procedure here, most especially the scenes in the interview rooms, rings truer than that in almost any other crime novel I've ever read. The book is very well-plotted; the characters and the action are compelling, and it's a book that's almost impossible to put down. 4.5 stars for now, reserving the right to go to 5 after a second reading.

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