The Trespasser 4 STARS
Series: Dublin Murder Squad 6
Author: Tana French
Imprint: Hachette Australia: October 2016
Page Count: 469
Antoinette Conway, the tough, abrasive detective from The Secret Place, is still on the Murder squad, but only just.
She's partnered up with Stephen Moran now, and that's going well - but the rest of her working life isn't.
Antoinette doesn't play well with others, and there's a vicious running campaign in the squad to get rid of her. She and Stephen pull a case that at first looks like a slam-dunk lovers' tiff, but gradually they realise there's more going on: someone on their own squad is trying to push them towards the obvious solution, away from nagging questions. They have to work out whether this is just an escalation in the drive to get rid of her-or whether there's something deeper and darker going on.
Conway and Moran catch the call for a case that at first glance appears to be a straightforward act of domestic violence gone bad.
The victim is Aislinn Murray, picture perfect even in death, so pretty that Conway likens her to “dead Barbie”.
As she takes a long look at her face, Conway has the strange feeling that she has met Aislinn, that she had asked for Conway's help, but capturing that memory proved elusive, she filed it away in her head to examine later.
Everything in Aislinn’s perfect little cottage seemed to set up for an intimate dinner for two, table set, food in the oven, vegetables prepared. Her phone messages to her friend confirmed that yes, she was expecting a guest who, of course, was nowhere in sight.
Two little details caused Conway and Moran to believe it may be more than the result of a domestic argument gone awry. There were indicators that the scene had been altered, someone had gone to the trouble of thoroughly cleansing the cottage, and they had even turned off the oven at the main power point for no obvious reason. Nobody does that.
When they speak to Lucy, Aislinn’s girlfriend, she responds in a manner which doesn’t really match the circumstances, so that is a bit weird too.
They visit Rory, the expected dinner guest, who, because of the circumstances plus his social ineptitude, more or less sets himself up as prime suspect.
This looks like it might turn in to their very first juicy, proper murder case. Conway and Moran are at the bottom of the pecking order as far as case allocation goes, so Conway can’t help but think of this as being the long awaited big break.
However, here’s the rub, as backup they have been allocated Detective Breslin, a smooth operator with whom Conway has issues. Her fear is that Breslin will take over, strangely, he doesn’t, instead, he is oddly helpful at first. It soon becomes obvious though that he wants to nail Rory for the murder in spite of the reservations held by Conway and Moran.
Soon Conway is discovering/imaging all the ways in which Breslin is manipulating her. Moran is the voice of reason, so reasonable in fact that Conway isn’t so sure about him either.
Now anyone who has read the series so far will know that while the author might well be providing clues for the reader, like a good mystery writer should, she is also, in many little ways, leading us up the garden path, this makes for an enjoyable and challenging mystery.
What I did not enjoy so much:
Conway is the ubiquitous damaged cop, a character much loved by many but the concept is wearing a bit thin for me. My goodness though, she is horrible. She sure lets us know that she is one angry woman! Nasty and vindictive with it, she tells us that as a kid she held her temper until the offending child was well within sights before she unleashed her vengeance upon them. This is her way.
Blame for her personality is heaped upon her mother for 1: bearing a mixed race child (Conway) and 2: making up stories about the father she never knew.
Then when she joined the Dublin Murder Squad they all hated her because she was a woman; she was not pure white in colour and, when a colleague slapped her bum she physically injured him. They played dirty tricks on her and did all they could to edge her out. The sort of behaviour that, in truth, hasn't been witnessed in the police force since the 1960s. Still, I have to remember, this IS fiction.
I got a bit tired of her endlessly baying her troubles to the moon but I must say, her large vocabulary enabled her to do so in the most poetic of ways-with her way with words she ought really to have been a writer.
(I have to say though that towards the end of the book she does seem to be waking up to and recognising her awful ways).
Conway prides herself on her interview techniques, choosing from an array of personas to match the interviewee, I think a bit more “cool girl” in the squad room might have saved her from plenty of the grief dished out by her colleagues.
As if those interrogation scenes weren’t endless enough then the rehash of every word said, every nuance noticed and every thought ever thunk must surely be enough to satisfy the greediest of word gobblers.
To sum up:
A great story and engaging mystery that took too long to tell, its the engaging mystery and satisfying ending that earns this book 4 stars.
Review copy provided by Hachette Australia - thanks.