A review of The Trespasser by Tana French

Reviewed by Dakota Buhler

The Trespasser
by Tana French
Viking
Hardcover: 464 pages, October 4, 2016, ISBN-13: 978-0670026333

When my friend handed me a copy of Tana French’s new novel, The Trespasser, she told me I would be impressed by its out-of-nowhere twists and turns. Always open to reading new crime fiction novels, I took it from her and flipped it over to quickly scan the back cover. The reviews coined it a “psychological crime thriller,” which seemed to line up with my friend’s comment. I figured that a new mystery book was more important than sleep, so I told her I would get it back to her by the end of the week and promptly slid it into my backpack.

“Out-of-nowhere twists and turns” was an understatement.

An outcast rookie in the Dublin Murder Squad, Detective Antoinette Conway knows the struggle of being the only woman in a power-hungry group of murder detectives. On a daily basis, she is faced with documents that just happen to go missing, foul smells emanating from her tidily kept locker, and painfully obvious, boring, domestic murder cases piled on her desk. When she is handed yet another case of a date-gone-wrong with less than ten minutes left in her night shift, Antoinette simply sighs, rolls her eyes, and acknowledges that it’s going to be a double-shift kind of day.

The problem with this case, however, is that the prime suspect doesn’t seem to fall into the guilty category. He should. He’s a stalker with all the opportunity in the world, and was even caught on camera in the victim’s neighborhood around the time of the murder; even so, something’s just not quite right.

Diving into the case, Antoinette is faced with her partner’s crazy conspiracy theories and a senior detective’s borderline frantic rush to close the case, not to mention an interview with the victim’s best friend who suggests the presence of a mysterious boyfriend. Before she knows it, Antoinette is forced to question whether she should trust her squad, her partner, or even her own instincts.

The Trespasser is the sixth book in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, but can also be read as a stand-alone novel. French’s writing style is packed with literary devices, so casually strewn through the text that they become almost unnoticeable. Within half a page, readers might find examples of alliteration, simile, metaphor, parallel syntax and more, integrated into the everyday language of the murder squad.

French explains the feeling of slow comprehension through Antoinette; the detective’s understanding of a new aspect of the case is a near-perfect description of my experience with this novel: “It doesn’t hit me all at once. It comes like the slow cold of an IV crawling up a vein.”

Despite the rapid pace at which I tore through this novel—it was just too good to put down—the actual solving of the crime is a slow, suspenseful rise and fall. Reading The Trespasser feels like playing Chutes and Ladders. I work my way towards the goal, find something exciting that lets me climb up the ladder toward the answers, then hit a snag and slide right back to the beginning, once again at a complete loss as to who committed the crime. The suspense of the game, however, makes the journey to the ending, and the answers at the finish line, all the more satisfying.

About the reviewer: Dakota Buhler is a junior at George Fox University, pursuing a degree in English with an emphasis in secondary education. She is also a member of the William Penn Honors Program, a great-books centered method of classical education, and maintains a blog at brighterthanshadow.wordpress.com.

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