More Sound Waves: The Secret Place by Tana French, 2014, downloaded from Wisconsin Digital Library.
Another amazing piece of work by French and set in Dublin, IE. French is so great at developing each person's motivations and point of through and using their past experiences to further illustrate. She is equally strong when the characters are interacting and the police are cueing off nonverbal communication. The interrogation scenes in the book were excellent.
French's previous novels have had a thing for childhood trauma and group dynamics. The focus is always on a police investigator and the adult police officers dealing with crimes that foment memories their own childhood trauma. Secret Place adds is set in a private girls school and bounces around POV from cops to teenage girls. It's kinda like French and Megan Abbott wrote a book together.
Anyhoo. Stephen Moran, who was a smaller part of the last French novel, Faithfull Place, is at his cop desk when Frank Mackey's teen daughter shows up unannounced and shows Moran a bulletin board posting that was hanging at her boarding school. A murdered boy from a neighboring school was found on the grounds of Holly Mackey's all-girl school about a year ago. That investigation dried up and Moran really wants to join the murder squad. Unfortunately for Moran the Murder Squad top kick hates Moran's guts.
"Welllll, if I walk across the hall and take this bulletin board posting that says 'I know who killed him' I can get a gold star and have an in with Murder." He does that and is reluctantly invited on a visit to the school with the lead investigator, Antoinette Conway. Conway does not want Moran along; bringing Moran to the school is a kind of thank you.
The investigation kicks off again with as Conway and Moran start questioning students and staff. There are plenty of POV changes and flashback to the few months right before the murder. We get:
- Teen angst
- Teen drama
- Teen romance
- Teen caddishness from the boys school
- Teen queen bee bullshit from a couple girl students
- Police department politics and backbiting
- Scheming by Moran to stay involved in the investigation
- Scheming by Frank Mackey who is being himself. I.E. Mackey is in the running for Asshole of the World.
- Lots of group dynamics
- Fleeting fantastical elements where the girls are telekinetic
- Class issues and accents
- Money and power and class that drives behavior and resentment
The mystery of who killed the boy never drove my interest until later in the book when French gets closer to the reveal and a confession. The stories are all about the characters and those people dealing with their stresses and desires. My attention did wander a bit in the middle of the book. I think this was because there was not as much dialogue. French's dialogue is so damn good I wanted it back.
1. Mackey is a great character and a real piece of work. He is a very successful police officer and ready to stab anyone in the back. Mackey is the prime example of the old old comparison that cops and crooks are psychologically very similar. He constantly gathers information and then threatens anyone with that information. He dispenses favors and then twists ears when calling in markers. He will twist the story to fit his purposes and since he is a very persuasive talker he can easily ruin a cop's career.
1. The present day investigation covers all of one day.