Friday, April 9, 2010

Dublin Murder Squad

Hordes of people, Guinness, millions of cabs, a university where the tour guides are plucky intellectuals with a keen, if somewhat hokey sense of humor, Guinness, and music, oh, so much music (though predominantly Johnny Cash), so much that you can feel the vibrations from the Temple Bar as you stumble by; this is how I remember Dublin. Did I mention Guinness?

Dark corners, edgy women peering out slyly from behind their shutters, closed doors hiding the thinly veiled secrets of the inhabitants. Man against man, families against themselves, cop against everyone. Streets empty with the vastness of failure, and dysfunction that seeps and crawls its way between homes and through the lips of anyone who speaks. This is the image of Dublin that Tana French creates.

French, the author of In the Woods, which won the 2008 Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author, will be releasing her third novel revolving around the members of the Dublin Murder Squad in July. French is an amazingly talented writer with the unique aptitude of producing intense character studies within well-plotted, emotionally moving, novels of psychological suspense. As readers wait for the July 13th release of Faithful Place, I feel it necessary to bring her talent for writing to the attention of those who have not yet had the fortune of delving into her murky world.

In the Woods is the first of the novels detailing the emotionally wrecking and highly personal cases of Dublin’s finest. It brings to mind the blurred lines and gray areas of right and wrong that pepper the works of notable authors like Dennis Lehane. Following Detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox as they delve into the murder of a 12-year-old girl, a case eerily similar to events from Ryan’s shadowed past; In the Woods is a thrilling mystery that absolutely sucks you into it’s depths. The Likeness takes place six months later and details the psychological fallout and resulting career challenges of Detective Cassie Maddox. My favorite of the two, The Likeness is gripping in its intensity as the readers follow Cassie into an undercover assignment that’s cult-like atmosphere begins to deconstruct Cassie’s thinly veiled mental composure. Both are written with beautiful, often-poetic prose interposed with a jagged, seeping edge of violence that slices through the texts brilliantly.

So, Faithful Place, does it live up to these two bestselling thrillers? Yes! By far the most complex, as it deals with the murky and constantly unstable world or families, Faithful Place follows Detective Frank Mackey, leader of Dublin’s undercover unit, as he investigates a decades old murder that had long-lasting repercussions for both Frank and his family. True to form (as presented by French), Mackey lives on the edge of right and wrong, leaping through various shades of gray as he stealthily moves through the Dublin slums picking apart all of the inhabitants in his search, even if the answers lead him closer to the damaged home and family he escaped twenty years before. According to many of my co-workers, this is it, French’s best work to date and I have to agree, she just keeps getting better.

Now, if you haven’t done so yet, read In the Woods and The Likeness. You have time, until July to be exact. Then, once you’ve reveled in the complex world of Tana French for a while you will be fully prepared for the brilliance that is Faithful Place.