The Secret Place is the 5th book in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad. They all stand on their own, but I highly suggest you start with the first one: In The Woods. The Secret Place takes us into the world of teenage girls and the familial bonds formed during boarding school.
A cold case is reopened and Detectives Conway and Moran head back to St. Kilda’s to look for anything Detective Conway may have missed when she first investigated. Two rival groups of friends are in the center of the investigation, and the detectives have to see through the smokescreens each and every girl is putting up in order to solve the crime.
What I liked: French nailed the urgency and value in being with your friends during middle and high school. There’s an undercurrent of danger, though, that keeps the friendships from reading as too sweet or tweeny. French definitely gets the teenage tone across, and there were some parts where I just, like, couldn’t take it? These novels move along quickly and I love her story telling. I also enjoy the series because as you progress, you get to know the Murder Squad from different points of view.
What I didn’t like: There was a hint of the supernatural. Lights exploding and shadows that maybe aren’t shadows… that sort of thing. I had a hard time suspending my disbelief— shifting focus from a boy’s murder and the investigation surrounding that, to the elements of supernatural abilities. I couldn’t do it. I do understand the force and energy surrounding girls, especially tight-knit groups, but that’s a different type of magic. Give me Hogwarts or give me reality… I have a hard time combining the two.
I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads because I love this series but didn’t enjoy the maybe-magic.
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