Let’s set the scene:
I am such a huge fan of Tana French. I love her Dublin Murder Squad series. Like, a lot. Like, you WILL get these books thrown at you at some point if we are IRL friends. So, needless to say, when I got my hands on an advanced copy of THE TRESPASSER — book 6 in the series — I was completely overjoyed. My work colleagues got shifty looks in their eyes every time I fangirled uncontrollably at the prospect of going home and reading all night.
I get all discombobbled and ridiculous whenever I try to describe her awesomeness, like when I met David Duchovny and gave him the Crazy Eyes that one time.
So yes. The scene is set:
I got my ARC.
I holed up for many evenings.
Of course this book is amazing — it’s Tana frickin’ French! — but the downside of being so damn awesome is that the bar is set crazy high. If this was a standalone book from another author, it would be an easy five stars.
So TL;DR: This book is super. READ. IT.
However, I can’t help but compare this book to the rest in the series. And that’s why I gave it four stars.
I’m being uber picky — coz, ya know, crazed mega-fans are allowed to be, right? — but there wasn’t quite the level of depth here that I love so much in the other books.
See, when you read a Tana French novel, it’s eerie, how much you get inside the viewpoint character’s head. They’re real people, as far as I’m concerned. They’re more fleshed out than actual living breathing humans with mortgages and cats and stuff.
Antoinette Conway — the viewpoint character in question this time — is standoffish. I get that. That’s totally her character. She’s damaged, and brittle, and ambitious. She always takes the hard path. She won’t ever lean on anyone, and she’ll think less of you if you offer her a hand.
In this novel, she’s being viciously targeted by the men in her squad, and her Dream Job is crumbling around her, taking parts of her along with it.
So I thought, YES. This is going to be so much (dark?) fun to read. I wanted to get deep into the mess of her. But that didn’t quite happen, which is a shame. I learned a lot about her, and got to see her wonderful partnership with Stephen Moran again, but I felt left behind on the surface of her, when compared to previous books in the series.
The case its self was a masterwork in plotting. (And I’ve read that Tana French is more-or-less a pantser, so how is this even possible?!) Every clue had double-or-triple interpretations and layers. How anyone can even write something so knife-edged and delicate, I’ll never know. I’ll probably spend the rest of my career trying and failing.
Sometimes, though, I got just as lost as Conway. There were so many theories, it genuinely hurt my head. (Which is exactly how I should have been feeling, so it was genius, really, though sometimes hard to read.)
It’s a shame that the MO of this series means I’ll probably never be in Conway’s head again, as there’s a new viewpoint character in every book. I think Conway’s head is a fascinating place to be, and she’s more of a slow burning character than the rest so far.
The writing, of course, is bloody brilliant. Conway’s voice made me laugh out loud on so many occasions. Even when I was in the house alone. And on the train. Yeah… The voice is superb, as ever. Conway is so cutting, but there’s such a delicious dark humour about her too.
And the chemistry between Conway and Moran? Eeeeek. It is a joy. They’re such a great partnership. He knows how she works, and we know from his viewpoint the last time around just how much of his mental energy is spent on keeping Conway with him.
What was beautiful to see, this time, is how much she secretly appreciates it, and needs it. Arrgh! I just want to smush their faces together. They’re so broken and well-suited, and they find humour in the worst situations, and they always have each other’s backs, even when they’re not even talking to one another.
They’re a true partnership, and they’re like nothing I’ve ever read before. They work together like it’s all an intricate dance, and they make it seem effortless.
(I ship them! I ship them I ship them I ship them. And I regret nothing!)
Sorry. My fangirling is showing.
So yes. 4 out of 5 stars because I have impossibly high standards, but still an absolute gem of a book that I’ll read over and over, just like the others.
If you want to see something really special and out of the ordinary in the Crime genre, then read Tana French, dammit.