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The Secret Place by Tana French
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The Secret Place (2014)

by Tana French

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1,6171166,658 (3.85)164
  1. 10
    Skippy Dies by Paul Murray (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both books deal with the death of a teenage boy and private boarding schools in Ireland.
  2. 00
    Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight (sarahx2012)
    sarahx2012: Similar elements of mystery, plus a focus on what teenage girls are capable of.
  3. 00
    Dare Me by Megan Abbott (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Teenage girls are more dangerous than you think.
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When the body of a young man from a private boy's school is found dead on the grounds of a nearby private girl's school, investigators find only dead ends and unanswered questions, and ultimately the murder goes to Cold Case status.

Then, months later, a postcard turns up, carrying the message "I Know Who Killed Him" and the cold case is hot again.

Tana French returns with another tightly-plotted mystery, bringing back some earlier characters from the series and introducing plenty of new ones to keep the kettle boiling. As usual, there are multiple twists and turns along the way before the answers begin to emerge.

The only quibble I have with the novel is French's unexpected and largely unnecessary jaunt through the occult, with teen girls playing at poltergeist-type pranks and the usage of the dead boy's ghost for a crucial plot point. ( )
  LyndaInOregon | Dec 14, 2018 |
The Secret Place is Tana French’s fifth entry in her fantastic Dublin Murder Squad series. Like in the previous novels, French selects one member of the squad to build a story around. This time, French concentrates the action on Stephen Moran, a new officer first introduced in her third book, Faithful Place. Moran played a pivitol role in that novel, and it provides background information about his methods and character. The earlier work also establishes his initial encounter with Frank Mackey, an MS detective who also appears here in The Secret Place. Holly, Mackey’s daughter brings an important clue to Moran who is starting out in the Cold Cases department. It involves an unsolved murder that took place a year ago at her posh private school. A boy from the school next door was found dead in the woods, but the perpetrator and a possible motive was never discovered. Moran is ambitious and leaps at the opportunity to bring the new evidence to a Murder Squad member who might vouch for him and advance his career. Unfortunately, the detective assigned to the case when it was active was Antionette Conway. She is an outcast in the Murder Squad, and her prickly demeanor and easily offended sensibilities will make working with her a challenge. Moran and Conway reopen the case and head up to St. Kilda’s school to follow up. Their investigation brings them in contact with two opposing groups of tight-knit girls who definitely know more than they admitted last year. French juxtaposes the two cliques, exploring teen friendships-some based on dominance/intimidation, and others on blind loyalty and co-dependence. It is a pretty negative and stereotypical portrayal of adolescent girls, and Conway is also not presented as the best example of a well-adjusted female. There is a different tone to The Secret Place, which is often considered to be the weakest entry in French’s otherwise successful series. Some elements stretch credulity and the character development is not as extensive as in the others. Fans accustomed to her gritty realism and deeper psychological themes may find it a bit disappointing, but French’s writing and storytelling are still more impressive than most. Her next Dublin Murder Squad book, The Trespasser, is French at her best again and not to be missed. Each Murder Squad mystery can stand alone, but the sequential reader benefits from a richer understanding of the characters, their history, and their interactions with other members of the squad. A new stand-alone work, The Witch Elm is due to be released in October 2018. ( )
  jnmegan | Sep 13, 2018 |
3.5 stars

When 16-year old Holly, a girl who attends a boarding school, goes to a detective who helped her in the past, she brings with her a card – a card with a secret. The person who wrote the card says she knows who killed Chris Harper. Chris was murdered the year before. The detective, Stephen, is a cold case detective and goes to the original detective on the case to see if they can try again to solve the murder.

I listened to the audio and liked both narrators, but I did lose interest a bit more in the girls’ voice. One of the narrators (a male) voices the parts told from the POV of Stephen. The female narrator told the story from the girls’ points of view in the time leading up to the murder, and after the murder – the bit of time until Holly goes to Stephen with the card. Overall, it was good, but not nearly as good as the other books in the series to this point, in my opinion. I do love listening to the Irish accents on the audio, though. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jun 4, 2018 |
My first Tana French, and I'll do at least one more! I love the Dublin slang and idioms, her pinpoint accuracy of the lives of privileged teenagers, flooded with money but with souls that cry out in vain for substance and sustenance. This story of a boarding school murder case gone cold for a year features Cold Case Detective Stephen Moran and Murder Squad Detective Antoinette Conway. She's about as abrasive and defensive as they come, partly justified by the blatant sexism she faces and partially just her own prickly personality. Moran's self-knowledge and internal brooding (it's his PoV) are really absorbing. The 450 pages are filled with writing that is dense, packed with detail, and not all is wrapped up neatly at the end.

Quotes: "It was beautiful. I love beautiful; always have. I never saw why I should hate what I wish I had."

"A smart-arse. That can work for us, work nicely. Smart-arses talk when they shouldn't, say anything as long as it'll come out good and snappy." ( )
  froxgirl | May 8, 2018 |
As much as I truly enjoyed Tana French's previous entry in this series (Broken Harbor) which made me want to like this one as much, it just wasn't possible.
This story centered around a near Cold Case of the murder of a teenage boy at a girl's boarding school. The characters of the girls in attendance lack dimension and made it very difficult to plow through the story. The pace was too slow in spots which made me as the reader want to say "Get on with it" and the high school girls just were too over the top caricatures of what I suppose boarding school girls are believed to be. Sadly disappointed. ( )
  cyderry | Apr 3, 2018 |
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Dedication
For Dana, Elana, Marianne and Quynh Giao,
Who luckily were nothing like this.
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There's this song that keeps coming on the radio, but Holly can only ever catch bits of it.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.

Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. “The Secret Place,” a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.

But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships
that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.
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"The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls' boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM. Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin's Murder Squad--and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. "The Secret Place," a board where the girls at St. Kilda's School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why. But everything they discover leads them back to Holly's close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique--and to the tangled web of relationships that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen's links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda's will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly's father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined." --… (more)

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