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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

The Secret Place

ISBN: 9780670026326
Publisher: PENGUIN GROUP Viking
Publication Date: 09/02/2014
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 Stars
The sensational new novel from “one of the most talented crime writers alive” (The Washington Post)
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 saysI 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.
The Secret Place is a powerful, haunting exploration of friendship and loyalty, and a gripping addition to the Dublin Murder Squad series.

My Review

A special thanks to PENGUIN GROUP Viking and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
THE SECRET PLACE (Dublin Squad Murder Series) by talented Tana French is an intriguing and riveting mystery series, diving into the ugly world of teenage girls, and a murdered boy— full of dark secrets, for a captivating and haunting exploration of friendship and loyalty. The Secret Place, is a noticeboard where girls at the private St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, typically posts are of gossip, parent hatred, guys, spite, and cruelty; now it is used to re-open the investigation into the murder of popular sixteen year old, Chris Harper with his photo and a note, I Know Who Killed Him found posted by Holly. The murder took place a year ago, and there were no suspects identified at the time of the murder, and the case went cold. Now it is front and center. As we all know, teenage girls are full of drama, with hormones raging, politics, rivals, love, hate, evil, bitchy, clothes, cliques, and obsessions with boys and sex—on the brink of womanhood without the maturity, even on a good day. Add in a private girls’ school full of smart, lying, devious girls playing evil mind games, with plenty of sex, attitude, crime, terror, and murder– taking it up another ten notches of intensity. (not a great place to be, with these manipulating crazy teens). Detective Stephen Moran works in cold cases and he wonders why sixteen year old, Holly Mackey is coming to see him. When she was nine she was a witness in a murder case and Stephen was the one who took her statement and prepped her to testify at the trial. She can be open with him, so he will be useful on the case. A year earlier two of the nuns went for an early stroll and found Chris lying in a grove of trees in the back corner of the school grounds. The lead detective on the case working Murder was Antoinette Conway and she made Murder the same time he made Cold Cases. He wants Murder. When Holly brings Moran the note, this is his shot to move up and prove himself. Moran and Conway team up, to uncover more than sweet little upper middle class, good girls. Two rival cliques, both having access to the board at the time the photograph was left. The first group is Holly's own group, a tight-knit foursome and the second (more popular) clique headed by the domineering and manipulative Joanne. All eight girls are interviewed extensively at the time of Chris's murder, but now it's clear at least one of them knows more than she admitted at the time. When things lead back to Holly’s close knit group of friends and their rivals – wow, what a tangled web of dangerous deceit. Moran and Conway, a dynamic team--Moran longs for wealth and Conway resents it as they go back and forth with their sarcastic banter as they develop a bond and work to uncover the murder. French did an amazing job with the well developed teen characters magnifying all the drama, personalities, and feelings and weaves in the friendships and flashbacks as well as comparisons to Moran’s childhood, while staying focused on the murder investigation. She combines the good with the bad. This was my book by French and most definitely will not be my last. Clever, inventive, and talented writing, with very detailed settings, to hook you and keep you guessing through every twist and turn! She knows how to build and maintain suspense! Looking forward to reading the previous books in the series and the next upcoming one. Well done; for fans of mystery crime thrillers, with a message and a takeaway.

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