French’s most recent novel, “The Searcher,” is beautifully written. I know! That’s not the typical description applied to a mystery. As you follow Cal, a former Chicago cop who has retired to Ireland, French’s writing allows you to perfectly visualize his walks along the country lane, the gentle Irish rain, and his somewhat derelict cottage. What you can’t quite visualize is a crime. You’re three-quarters through the book before you discover it. But throughout, there’s something just beneath the surface of the bucolic town that’s just enough to quicken your pulse.
In contrast, “The Witch Elm” is a rollercoaster ride!! You’ve heard that about books before, but this isn’t your run-of-the-mill roller coaster. This has ups and downs, twists and turns, spins and drops! Just when you think you can relax, take a breath, and pry your white-knuckled hands from the rail, it takes off again. This is not a book for someone looking for tranquil bedtime reading. It’s a thriller!
As whodunits go, I also enjoy a good police procedural series. I will binge-read a good series! And Tana French’s “Dublin Murder Squad” series is definitely binge-worthy! A few years ago there was an (in my opinion) ill-conceived attempt to adapt it for the STARZ channel as Dublin Murders. Like Tana French’s stand-alone books, these books are intriguing stories that hold you until the very last word. Unlike most series, each of the books follows different characters from Dublin’s murder squad.
In “In the Woods,” readers meet Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox. There’s the type of partnership that only needs looks to communicate and is known around the squad as Maddoxandryan. But as they investigate the murder of a young girl in a Dublin suburb, things go terribly wrong. The case is solved, but their partnership is shattered - sending Rob into administrative limbo and Cassie to the domestic violence squad.
In “The Likeness,” Cassie is making the best of the domestic violence squad when she gets a frantic call from her boyfriend, Sam O’Neill, a detective on the murder squad. He’s at the scene of a stabbing, along with Cassie’s long ago boss in the undercover unit, Frank Mackey. When Cassie arrives at the scene, she learns that there is no connection to domestic violence. Instead, the victim, Lexi Madison, is Cassie’s double. It’s even more unsettling because Lexi Madison is the undercover alias that Cassie and Frank created on a case during which Cassie herself was stabbed. To solve this crime, Cassie steps back into undercover and into Lexi’s life, knowing that she may be living with a killer.
“Faithful Place” has Frank Mackey missing yet another weekend with his 9-year-old daughter, Holly. This time, though, it’s not for an undercover case. In 1985, 19-year-old Francis Mackey and the love-of-his-life Rosie Daly planned to run away to England, but Rosie never showed up. Frank spent the next 22 years believing that she had gone without him, until her suitcase is found with their disintegrating ferry tickets still inside. That’s enough for him to finally return to the neighborhood and his estranged family to find a killer.
There are three more books in the series, but I am out of column space! Be sure to read more about the Dublin Murder Squad in “Broken Harbour,” “The Secret Place” and “The Trespasser.”
by Nancy Carstens