Book Review: The Secret Place – Tana French

secret place - tana frenchTitle: The Secret Place
Author: Tana French
ISBN: 9780670026326
Pages: 464
Release Date: September 2, 2014
Publisher: Viking
Genre:  Crime Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5


When Holly Mackey brings Detective Stephen Moran a picture from her boarding school, he immediately knows it’s related to a cold case. The picture shows a boy, Chris Harper, who was murdered, and across the picture it says, “I know who killed him.” Moran uses the picture to muscle his way onto the investigative team, and along with Homicide Detective Antoinette Conway, he goes to the school to interview Holly, her friends, and a rival clique, to figure out who posted the picture and who really murdered Chris Harper.


The Secret Place is an intricately drawn mystery with fascinating characters and a mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end.

Full Review:

Tana French writes intricate, gripping mystery novels that edge into the territory of psychological thrillers. These novels are smart and cerebral, with characters you can’t trust and situations you aren’t sure you can believe. She keeps you guessing on every page, making you wonder who is telling the truth and who is lying, and why. The Secret Place is no exception; in this suspenseful novel, French takes the reader into the difficult and manipulation world of teenage girls.

Stephen Moran is at the center of The Secret Place and he’s a great character. He’s smart and savvy, really knowing how to work with witnesses and extract the information he needs, but he hasn’t been able to get ahead in his career. His dream is to work for homicide, and he’s not above leveraging the information he has in order to get there. That being said, he has a lot of integrity and is more than happy to work with Detective Conway, despite some rumors about her. He’s really perfect for this story, intuitive and smart, but also ambitious.

The setting of The Secret Place is an all girl’s boarding school, and it’s a thick, close atmosphere. Readers can smell the wafts of perfume, sense the secrets and lies that the walls hold. The girls are smart and catty, wise to the fact that they hold the power here. But they’re also just teenagers: small and vulnerable; they try to act like adults in order to compensate, but Moran sees through them. More than that, though, he sees that they are dangerous and will do and risk anything to achieve their own ends. French does an amazing job writing this; it’s a complicated world that these girls live in, their entire lives confined by this campus, and readers get a full sense of just how capable these teenagers are.

French weaves a complex mystery in The Secret Place, one that will keep readers guessing until the end. As Moran and Conway slowly unravel the case and contemplate new evidence, the reader is drawn into the book more and more. This is a novel I really couldn’t put down; it’s not a swift action thriller; it moves slowly at times, but it’s always deliberate and careful. If you haven’t read Tana French’s books before, you should absolutely give this one a try. She’s such a talented author, and her books are always amazing.

Other books by Tana French:

Broken Harbor
Faithful Place

In the Woods
The Likeness

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  1. Enjoy Tana French. This goes on my list!

  2. Joann Greene says:

    Hi, I haven’t read any of her novels and I’m wondering if I could just pick this book to read and not be lost? Thanks

    • This is a great question. The novels are related to one another, but each of the main characters is different and it’s not a series. You could absolutely pick up any one of these books and not be lost. But there may be spoilers for books that came previously. If you want to read them in order, it goes like this:

      In the Woods
      The Likeness
      Faithful Place
      Broken Harbor
      The Secret Place


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