The Trespasser

by Tana French

Being a member of Dublin’s Murder Squad is not what Detective Antoinette Conway expected when she fought to get her place on it.

When she and her partner Stephen Moran appeared in The Secret Place, they were the new kids successfully solving a tricky, sensitive case.

But, years later in this book, Conway is tired. Moran is a good, supportive partner, but the hazing, the constant prejudice against women in law enforcement; the attempts to undermine her investigations; the night shifts and the repeated assignments to domestic violence cases that will never build her reputation is starting to make her think about a switch to corporate security. As she herself puts it, her timing was wrong; turnovers and personnel changes have ruined the finely tuned team she thought she was joining.

At the end of a slow night, the chief assigns her and Moran a case that has all the signs of yet another domestic violence case. An anonymous man calls the Stoney police precinct to report that an ambulance was needed for a woman who had fallen and hit her head. When police arrive, the doors are locked; when they break in, they find a dead woman on the fireplace hearth beside a blazing fire. The table is set for a special dinner; candles have dripped and sputtered out; the smell of overcooked meat fills the apartment, but the stove has been turned off. They are unable to track the unknown caller.

The victim’s cell phone reveals that she was expecting a male friend for dinner. But he, not getting a response at the door or from his texts, appears to have left. When the police locate him, he is the underwhelming, not very successful owner of a bookstore.

The case is difficult: at first glance, it looks like a lover’s quarrel gone horribly wrong . . . but some details suggest a thoughtful, experienced perpetrator. Older colleagues on the squad push Conway and Moran to arrest the boyfriend and be done with it.

Antoinette realizes that she has met the victim once before when she worked in Missing Persons and was days away from her transfer to the Murder Squad. At the time, the victim, Aislinn Murray, was searching for her missing father, convinced the police knew more than they were saying.

In this book, paranoia, with its blinding, corrosive effects, is as present as the winter fog. None of the primary characters in this book — police investigators, victim or murderer are untouched by it.

As always, Tana French has delivered complex characters, trapped in impossible situations they don’t know how to escape. The plot is hardly straightforward but satisfyingly realistic.

The Author: Tana French

French, born in the United States in 1973, grew up in Ireland, Italy, the United States and Malawi.  Her father, David French, was an economist working on resource management in the developing world. She’s lived in Dublin since 1990.  She trained as an actress at Trinity College and has worked in theater, film and voiceovers. 

The Trespasser is the latest in a series of mysteries featuring the detectives of Dublin’s Murder Squad.


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