Letters of Mass Construction

The Secret Place by Tana French

My brain often wrestles with the wonder of letters. How twenty-six letters arrange into words. Turn into paragraphs. Fill up pages. Occupy our brain. How these letters turn into wonder. How the magicians who wield them can make them dance and weave. Do their bidding and inject into us all sorts of emotions. Push us to places we would not go on our own. Poison us with thoughts and plots and people.

Tana French is a magician. She is everything I love about fiction. She hooks me into a style of storytelling that I am not always a fan of. Fiction is fickle. We all are not going to like the same thing. French often tells a story like the eating of an artichoke. You pull off the outer pieces and you eat them. They are not always completely done. Some of those outer pieces are rough but you keep digging. Piece by piece you pull off the leaves and consume them. The deeper you get into the artichoke, the better it is. The flavor expands. Your taste buds are tickled. Than you get to the heart of it. With all the prickly artichoke thorns out of the way you are presented with the fur. You know underneath it is the prize. So you carefully scrape the choke off. Then all your work is paid for with the delicious finish line.

French takes her time. I don’t always like this. Pacing is a tricky thing but all her books have this trait in common. They pick up steam and barrel to the finish line. This book was no exception. Unsurprisingly, I loved it. There always comes a point in all French books where it becomes almost impossible to put it down. You just can’t wait to see how she gets to the heart of it. She is an expert plotter and her characters are always engaging.

I don’t like to talk too much about plot because that is for you to discover. So here is my bare minimum. Young friends at a boarding school suspect that one of their own is guilty of a murder that took place a year ago. Unable to live with it any longer one of them tosses out a fishing line to hook the police back into the investigation. The story than is told through two alternating plot lines. The police investigation and the girl’s viewpoints months before the murder.

All of French’s books are stand-alone books which take place in a shared world with characters overlapping. This one is no different. While you can read it without reading any of the earlier books, I would not recommend it. I think you would lose a little of the tension. So if you are a fan of the series, what are you waiting for? Go read it. If you have never picked one up, then head out and grab a copy of In The Woods and enjoy the ride.

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