The secret place by Tana French

Amy The Secret PlaceA year ago a teenaged boy was found dead on the grounds of a fancy girls’ school, and now, a girl turns up at the police station with a card that says someone knew who killed him. I love the main detectives in this book; young Stephen, desperate for a shot at the Murder Squad, and Conway, who was so frustrated a year ago. The many teenaged girls are well drawn, the atmosphere both real, and eerie, and the mystery satisfyingly convoluted. It took me longer to read this than others in the series, perhaps because I have enough teenaged girl drama in real life, or perhaps because the otherworldly parts of the story were a little much at times, but I still enjoyed it very much.

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Broken Harbour by Tana French

Amy Broken HarbourI do so love a Tana French novel. Each one’s main character, is a minor character from the one before, which gives the added bonus of getting to know a character you are already familiar with, and don’t necessarily love, so much better. Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy is a murder detective taking a new, young partner along to solve the mystery of who murdered a whole family. It’s a psychological mystery, full of flawed characters, complicated relationships, evocative Irish dialogue, and moving character journeys.

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Faithful Place by Tana French

Amy Faithful PlaceThe third book in the Dublin Murder Squad, and the third protagonist. I love the opportunity to get to know a minor character from the last book, The Likeness. In the 80s, Frank Mackey was all set to leave his his dysfunctional family and poor community as he and his girlfriend ran away to England, only she didn’t turn up at the meeting place, and everyone assumed she went alone. Frank left anyway, and didn’t look back. More than twenty years later, her suitcase turns up, and Frank, now an undercover cop, is drawn back to Faithful Place and the dark past. The dialogue is written in such a way that you hear the Irish accents, the characters are engaging and complex, and the mystery is clever and satisfying.

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Normal people by Sally Rooney

amy-normal-people.jpgSet between 2011 and 2015, this is the story of Marianne and Connell whose relationship begins in secret while they are at school, and how it and they change as they leave their small town and go to Dublin for university. It’s about class, communication, love, abuse, mental illness, friendship and the struggle to find one’s place in the world as an adult. It’s very modern, and made me feel old, but it was very compelling.

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In the woods by Tana French

Amy in the woodsWhen he was twelve, Adam Ryan went into the local wood with his friends, and something most terrible happened. His friends were never seen again, and Adam couldn’t remember a thing. Years later, Adam is called Rob and he is on the Dublin Murder Squad when a girl is found murdered in the same wood. I really enjoyed this story about two crimes, of course, but also about friendship, childhood and the mess we can make of relationships. It has a delightful Irishness to it, and the ending isn’t too neat.

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The heart’s invisible furies by John Boyne

Amy Heart's Invisible FuriesThis is the story of an Irishman’s life, from before he was born, when his mother was kicked out of her village by the priest for being unmarried and pregnant, until all of his life was lived. It’s also the story of Ireland, from the end of WWII, until now, and how it has grown and changed. These were hard times to be gay in Ireland, and Cyril’s journey to find a place for and within himself, takes him across the world. This is a difficult story, harsh and sad, but it is also laugh out loud funny, tender, and full of characters that will stay with me.

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