FAW Chicago, IL Est. 1922
FAW Book Reviews

The Trespasser
By Tana French

Hardcover, 464 pages, Viking (October 4, 2016)

Reviewed by Shirley Baugher
December, 2016

For the fans of Tana French, and they are legion, a new book about the Dublin Murder Squad is a gift from the gods. Recently I was sitting in a doctor's of reading the book while waiting for Norman to get his broken hand cast. The gentleman sitting across from me asked if it were a new one from French, and I replied that it was. He immediately went into a long explanation of how much he liked the author, and how he had assigned her last book to his senior English class. I assured him that he would like this one equally as well, if not better, and suggested that he share this one with his class as well.

The Trespasser is first rate French. What begins as a routine "domestic" murder investigation, presumably the reason Antoinette Conway and her partner Stephen Moran are assigned the case, turns out to be anything but - and the reason that it falls into Conway's lap is likewise not routine. But that revelation comes late in the book. Conway and Moran are both part of the Dublin Murder Squad. Moran, a fresh-faced, like-able chap, is accepted by the other members of the squad. Conway is not, for a number of reasons. She is the only female on the group, she is black, and she is known for her hot temper and rash behavior. She is tormented mercilessly by the some of the detectives, none of whom will work with her, to the point of their stealing pages from her case files and urinating on the contents of her locker. They want her gone - and they are very close to getting their wish. She has been offered a job with a top notch security firm which she plans to accept once this case is closed.

French plots her story carefully, introducing you to the principals in the case and developing each as events unfold. Long story short, a beautiful young woman, Aislinn Murray, is found murdered in her apartment. She died from a blow to the head, caused either by a fall, or a deliberate hit after the fall by a murderer. The table is set for two, and the cooker in which dinner is being prepared has been turned off. Her new boy friend, Rory Fallon, a shy bookshop owner who has been invited to dinner, is the immediate and only suspect. While Antoinette and Stephen are the lead detectives on the case, all the other members of the squad - especially the super cool Breslin and the rumpled McCann, want to pin the murder on Rory - to the point of building a solid case against him. But that case begins to unravel as more is learned about the victim and her would-be assailant. Lucky for the reader, French lets it unravel slowly, and you will be duly surprised when you discover who really did the deed. While the naïve Rory has been casing out Aislinn's neighborhood for weeks before the evening of the dinner date (and the murder), it appears he is not the only one. And there are witnesses to attest to the stalking. Throw in the victim's best friend who is convinced that Aislinn has been undone by a bizarre plot of her own making, and who, under brilliant, but intense questioning, reveals what has been going on in her friend's life that might have led to her death.

The Trespasser contains some of the most effective interrogations in recent detective action - evocative of those in John Le Carre's novels, although Antoinette Conway is no George Smiley.

You will come to root for Detectives Conway and Moran, and you will find yourself picking up Irish squad room lingo. The other day, I dropped "fair play to you" into a conversation without realizing I had done it until the person to whom I was speaking gave me a quizzical look. You will also wish that Conway doesn't carry through with her plan to leave Murder and take a glitzy private security job wearing custom made suits, flying business class, and guarding celebrities and politicians. Because, you will want her (and Moran) back on another case in the next Dublin Murder Squad series. I won't reveal whether you will get your wish. I will just say, "fair play" to Detective Conway for getting to the bottom of this one.

About the Author - Tana French

Tana French is the author of In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place, and The Trespasser. Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.