Hooboy, have I got a good one for you this month.
Thanks to the recommendation of a friend (hat tip to Marie), mystery writer, Tana French, as been on my TBR list for quite a while now. French has eight novels and to be honest, I picked one at random. By the end of chapter one of The Trespasser, I did a little research and wasn’t at all surprised to learn that it won the 2016 Crime Fiction Book of the Year award at the Irish Book Awards. She also won in 2012 for her novel Broken Harbour.
There is so much to recommend this novel that I could write a book about the book.
It’s a plot-driven, twisty-turny, intellectual puzzle that will keep you wondering whodunnit to the bitter end. Even when the criminal is exposed, it’s by no means clear how (or if) he’ll be caught.
In the storytelling biz, there’s a writing principle called narrative drive; it’s the thing that keeps readers turning pages. It has to do with the way authors plant questions in our minds to make us wonder what will happen next. For mysteries the central dramatic question (whodunnit?) is baked in, but strong narrative drive is vital for every successful novel regardless of the genre.
The Trespasser is a page-turner. The narrative drive is so strong, you won’t want to put it down. And if you do, between readings you’ll be thinking about it, mulling over the clues and red herrings.
But this isn’t a run-of-the-mill mystery with a stereotypical detective. We’re used to seeing cops like John Rebus (from Ian Rankin’s classic series). Here, Tana French introduces us to Antoinette Conway, a multiracial detective on the Murder Squad in Dublin. Because of her heritage, and her gender, she’s had a lifetime of hassle. It’s no different on the squad and so, as she tries to solve her case, she’s also dealing with bigotry and sexism.
French’s dealing of social issues isn’t heavy handed though. It doesn’t interfere with the crime-solving plot, it enhances it, and it adds a depth and richness that we don’t usually get with this type of story.
The Trespasser is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Two thumbs up.
The audiobook is narrated by Hilda Fay, and it’s absolutely amazing. Fay brings the story to life with the colourful Dublin accent (which is much like the accent of my home province, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada). Tana French certainly gives Fay plenty of local sayings to help bring the performance alive.
NOTE: If there are little ears around, you’ll want to use headphones. In addition to fun, imaginative sayings (for example, Jumpin’ Jesus on a pogo stick), there’s a healthy sprinkling of F bombs.