THE SECRET PLACE by Tana French (Review)


452 Pages

I was first introduced to Tana French through a Popular Fiction class focusing on Detective Fiction through her novel Faithful Place, and I enjoyed it so much that this book ended up on my Christmas list!

Detective Stephen Moran is bored to death, stuck in Cold Cases. When one day, Holly Mackey, the daughter of the infamous DetectiveJohn Mackey, comes to him with new evidence to the murder of a popular teenage boy at her school, Chris Harper, gone quiet for almost a year. With a card posted on the school bulletin-board that says I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM, Moran sees his window to get out of cold cases and into where he really wants to be – The Dublin Murder Squad. Detective Moran soon meets the head Detective on the case – Antionette Conway. Conway, needing a new partner, gives Moran the chance he’s always wanted. But, they both know time is running out on figuring out who killed Chris. Heading to the all-girls Catholic school that this all took place at, the two detectives have one last chance to figure out who killed Chris – with two rival, teenage cliques as the main suspects. Will they be able to tell through the lies? Will Moran be able to prove himself to Conway? Or will the secrets between the tight-nit cliques be their ultimate defeat?

Basic Thoughts


Let me say that again.


I don’t even know how to begin to explain how much I enjoyed this read! Ever since being introduced to French last year, I have been impressed, twice over, by how fantastic her writing is – how flawlessly she can weave a story and somehow not make it directly about the murder, but also make you care LOADS about the characters and what happens to them. And that’s a damn hard thing to do.

While this is apparently the ‘fifth’ book in The Dublin Murder Squad Series, you definitely do NOT need to have read any of the other books. While it could be helpful to have read Faithful Place first, as their are recurring characters and a couple of references to that work (I was unaware of this going in), it is most definitely not necessary.


  • French is an absolutely seamless writer. You will want to read EVERY SINGLE WORD and bathe in them. It’s that good. There were ZERO parts that I found uninteresting or boring.
  • The characters are absolutely stunning. I felt like I could touch them and was their best friend.
  • The interrogation scenes of the suspects are phenomenal. As this is about a quarter of the book, it is a big part, and she manages to keep you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
  • The prose (writing) are just downright beautiful.


  • Conway could be slightly overbearing in the beginning.
  • While you could take a guess at who did it, it is very hard to be FOR SURE on who did it until it just flat out tells you, but this is a very minor con, as I love finding things out AS the characters do, though I know some readers like to play detective.

Overall View

The mystery, the characters, the dialogue, the everything is something that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. French manages to leave no loose threads in this tightly packed bow of a book.

Every single character is flawless, and it keeps you gasping for air until the very end. Her prose are just downright beautiful – from describing a tree to someone’s deepest, darkest emotion, French knows how to tug at your heart-strings.

As stated above, Detective Conway can be a little over-bearing when you are first introduced to her, but that’s just part of her character. And, as stated above, as well, it was difficult for me to solve the case myself, as you are learning WITH the detectives, which makes ME like it more, but it might be a con to some (however the story does go between past and present to help you have a little insight along the way). I definitely did not see the ending coming, which is one of the main things I look for in Detective Fiction – being fooled!

Final Rating:

Characters: 5.0 / 5.0

Action/Dialogue: 4.5 / 5.0

Overall Story: 5.0 / 5.0



Final Thoughts:


But, like I always say, this is just the honest opinion of an English Major.


Daniel xx


3 thoughts on “THE SECRET PLACE by Tana French (Review)

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