Publisher: Viking Adult
Publishing Date: September 2
The photo on the card shows a boy who was found murdered, a year ago, on the grounds of a girls’ boarding school in the leafy suburbs of Dublin. The caption says, I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.
Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to get a foot in the door of Dublin’s Murder Squad—and one morning, sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey brings him this photo. The Secret Place, a board where the girls at St. Kilda’s School can pin up their secrets anonymously, is normally a mishmash of gossip and covert cruelty, but today someone has used it to reignite the stalled investigation into the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to find out who and why.
But everything they discover leads them back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends and their fierce enemies, a rival clique—and to the tangled web of relationships that bound all the girls to Chris Harper. Every step in their direction turns up the pressure. Antoinette Conway is already suspicious of Stephen’s links to the Mackey family. St. Kilda’s will go a long way to keep murder outside their walls. Holly’s father, Detective Frank Mackey, is circling, ready to pounce if any of the new evidence points toward his daughter. And the private underworld of teenage girls can be more mysterious and more dangerous than either of the detectives imagined.
When Detective Frank Mackey’s teenage daughter Holly brings a card to show Detective Stephen Moran, it alters the course of his career and her private girls’ school forever. At St. Kilda’s, there’s a giant bulletin board tacked with cards full of secrets, creatively pieced together and revealing the boarders’ most hidden thoughts anonymously. But Holly spotted one pertaining to a murder that happened a year ago, and thought the Dublin Murder Squad ought to reopen the case. In doing so, she’s brought her friends back into a pool of suspicion, and their enemies become more vicious.
I’ve enjoyed French’s writing. She has a way of getting into your head with her language — and her writing differs depending on the perspective she’s using. From psychological thrillers to cold cases, French gets deep into the mind of the protagonists and takes you on a journey analyzing every single detail of a case till the surprising end. That’s the beauty of her style. And I really appreciate it. But Moran and Conway were not detectives I wanted to follow. Moran’s language was filled with incomplete phrases and thoughts. Scattered, fragmented. Like I just demonstrated. Throughout. Conway had an incredibly foul mouth and such a negative work style that I’m nervous to think she may be the next protagonist for Dublin Murder Squad #6. But while I didn’t enjoy the detective portion of the story, I liked the boarding school side.
On that side of the story, we follow Holly and her three close friends to their first full year together at boarding school. Two of them were previously day-people only, but now the four of them spend their nights at St. Kilda’s and do everything together — eat, study, sleep, shop. They promise one another they’d never let a boy get between them, because they have enough love to give for each other. But there are many Colms boys — the boy boarding school just down the road — and one of Holly’s friends becomes involved. And when one starts, the others follow. Two of the four girls make a desperate attempt to keep their friendship picture perfect, while another group of vicious girls point and laugh and bully and continuously try to tear them apart. All the while, these groups are wrapped up in the eventual murder of Chris Harper, and Holly and her friends are desperate to bring the police back to close the case completely.
It was difficult for me to rate this because I did like it over all, but not as much as her past work. I loved the subject, I loved the boarding school portion, and I loved that French’s writing stayed true. But because half the book is told through the detectives’ point of view, and I didn’t enjoy those parts, I’m left a little sad. This is definitely worth the read for French fans, and it echoed a lot of great storytelling as seen in Endeavour, which was interesting. Give it a whirl, tell me what you think!
Thank you, Edelweiss, for providing this book from Viking for review!