Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Trespasser - Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad #6)

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad, #6)The Trespasser was my Book of the Month choice for November.  Book of the Month tends to stay away from series selections in general, but there have been a few that appeared in the time I've been subscribed; The Trespasser is one of them.  It's the sixth book in French's Dublin Murder Squad series, though it can definitely be read as a stand-alone book, which I suppose justifies its inclusion.

The plot revolves around the main character Antoinette Conway, who finds herself and her partner (Stephen Moran) investigating the murder of a young woman named Aislinn Murray. At first, Antoinette assumes the case is just a domestic, as that's all she and Steve ever get handed.  But they desperately want the case to be something more, something exciting, and the more they dig the more they're shifted between nothing exciting and something that they are not ready to dig into.

In all, this is not a particularly twisty mystery.  I'm not normally good at solving mysteries, but I got a sense of where this one was going pretty early on.  French included enough waffling that I had doubts at a few points, but I never bought into the big red herring, which I normally fall for hook, line, and sinker.  There was also no "big reveal" that left me shocked and awed.  The solution, when it becomes evident, is pieced together bit by bit rather than just slamming into the reader like in some mysteries.  I also expected Antoinette's father to play a bigger role than he ultimately did.  Given that the book starts off with her history of stories about him, it would have seemed like more would be going on there than there actually was.  I didn't necessarily want a tearful, heartwarming reunion, because that would not have been in Antoinette's character, but having it tied in a bit more completely would have been nice.  I was also hoping that something more exciting would happen with Steve, and that he wouldn't be all he appeared--though I think if I'd read the book before this, maybe my perceptions of this one would have been different on this front.

Here are what I think the high points of the book were.  I did like the use of the slang and language here.  Normally I'm not big on phonetic accents, but I think French did well in using just enough slang and phonetically-spelled words to give the story the flavor of setting, but without making the bok a mental exercise to read or creating difficulty in deciphering what the characters were saying.  And while I ultimately didn't like Antoinette as a character (I felt she really did have a victim complex that primarily served as something for everyone, including her, to whine about) I did like the concept of her.  She's the only woman on the Murder Squad and she's a minority to boot.  And ultimately, though she and Steve pursue some crazy theories, she is ultimately the skeptic on the team.  This is refreshing, as female partners on male-female teams in fiction are typically the ones with the crazy ideas.  Antoinette in this respect was very much like Scully from the X-Files; she wanted to believe that there was something crazy going on with the case, but she was ultimately the grounded one on the team.

Overall, I think this was an enjoyable book, but nothing to rave over.  I'm actually very surprised it made the cut for Goodreads Choice nominations for 2016, because there was nothing in that really wowed me.  Still, I found the noms for those awards very lackluster in general, so I guess it fits in.

3 stars out of 5.

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