The Secret Place by Tana French
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I love Tana French. Her intimate portraits of crime in Dublin, primarily of those who solve it but also of those who commit it, are finely wrought, engrossing, and compelling. In The Secret Place, she focuses on teen-aged girls in Catholic boarding school and a cop hoping to angle himself onto the homicide squad with his performance on an unsolved murder on the school grounds.
Having once been a teen-aged girl myself, I found the behavior of the girls a little unbelievable. They stick together in the face of authority and try to manipulate the situation to get at each other. Really? Kids act like that even when the stakes are so high as to include murder and they are being interrogated by the police? Perhaps I reveal myself as naive. Or perhaps the girls' behavior is dictated by their culture and it is too different from my experience--private Irish boarding school vs. suburban NJ public school.
Aside from that misgiving, I did love The Secret Place. In addition to it being a fine psychological study of the characters, it was an excellent mystery that kept me guessing. It also had elements of magical realism that I found really intriguing. I wish I could give it 4 1/2 stars.