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books and reading

The Secret Place

Teenage girls can be the worst. My apologies if you are one of the good ones, because there are some amazing girls out there. I taught hundreds of them. But some are just wretched. They are mean and spiteful and a nightmare to be around. Unfortunately, this book features some awful girls, which greatly increased my dislike of the book. And although I love this series, this book grated on my nerves.

The entire plot is to figure out who killed this teenage boy who attends an all-boys school. The girls of the sister school are being interviewed, since they have a lot of contact with the boys. They are simply asking the girls if they know anything. These girls are clams. They won’t say a word, but enough slips out, a tiny bit at a time.

The plot is fine. Just another unsolved mystery. The detectives are clever and likable, and we get to see a very familiar face at one point. But the girls. Ugh. The two cliques involved are just so mean. Sadly, French captures this perfectly. I have known plenty of girls like this. She is spot-on with her portrayal. But I hated most of these girls so much that it just distracted me from my enjoyment of the book.

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books and reading

Broken Harbor

Tana French writes excellent books. Her Dublin Murder Squad is some of the best of the murder mystery genre. And what’s great about these books is that even though they are connected, the link is thin and not critical to understand. Each book focuses on a murder and the detectives who work it. The next book features a character from the previous book, so one person is familiar, but the rest of the characters and the story itself are new. And you really don’t have to know much about the character to figure out the story. I am reading them in order, but you really just don’t have to.

Broken Harbor kept me guessing. I really had no idea how this case was going to be solved. The detectives in charge are trying to solve the murders of a family who seem to have it all. Three members have died, one is in intensive care, and there are absolutely no leads. And halfway through the book, when a big reveal is made (no spoilers), I had no idea where the book was headed after that.

These books are so well-written. Not just the plot, but she has some fantastic prose within them. They avoid the annoying tropes that a lot of mystery books use, and they all, so far, have lead me down a path that I never saw coming. I appreciate the slow-burn level her books provide. I’m hooked in pretty quickly, and instead of being jerked around by red herrings and meandering plots, the plot moves forward at every step. When people want a good place to start when venturing into the genre, these are the ones I recommend.

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books and reading

The Likeness

If you have been following me at all, you know how particular I am about my murder mystery books. Most are crap. Let’s just lay it all on the table. When I find a book or an author worth my while, I’m pretty excited. When I read In the Woods a couple of years ago, I was hooked. Tana French wrote an excellent thriller that kept me guessing without using tired old tropes. For the record Robert Galbraith (AKA JK Rowling) writes great thrillers, too. Start with The Cuckoo’s Calling.

What’s clever about French’s books is they are connected but not direct sequels. The first book features two detectives, Rob and Cassie. The second book features Cassie and her superior, Frank. The third book (I peeked) features Frank but takes place in the past. So, there are familiar characters, but the plots aren’t directly hooked so I would say you could read them in any order.  A few things from the first book were mentioned in the second, but you don’t really need to understand them to follow the plot.

Cassie used to work undercover as a girl named Lexie Madison. Said Lexie turns up dead and happens to look exactly like Cassie. So, the police get creative and send Cassie back home with her four claiming innocence roommates. They tell her Lexie was injured rather than dead and let Cassie take her place to see if she can dig up any dirt. What’s really great about these books is the lack of red herrings. I am exhausted by “the killer reveal on page 30…oh wait just kidding” plots. French just lets it all unfold and evolve naturally. It’s what I like best about her books.  I can’t wait to dig into her next book.