Amongst Her Best Work – 5 Stars
While Tana French’s previous installment, The Secret Place was a bit of a miss by her high standards, Tana French has a sound “hit” with her latest installment. The Trespasser is a return to the magnificent character novel for which she is best known.
The story follows Antoinette Conway and Stephan Moran subsequent to their investigation from the previous novel. In what has become a trend, Antoinette and Stephan are given a seemingly mindless and straightforward murder case. To make matters worse, Breslin, a senior detective, is put on their team. Breslin seems to be part babysitter and part “backseat” detective as he tries to steer the investigation toward conclusion. As is usual in a Tana French novel, nothing is as trivial as it initially appears and the detectives are left to question how their moves in the investigation will protect or undermine their future.
After Faithful Place , I was on a Tana French high. Each novel had improved and she started fusing her magnificent character building and with an excellent plot. Her subsequent novels did not reach the same heights and her last installment was a rare miss. I started this novel with a bit of trepidation. Thankfully, this latest installment brings the series back on track and she once again combines spectacular character development with an excellent plot.
In The Trespasser , we may have the most unlikeable protagonist to date paired with the hard to dislike Stephan Moran. Faced with a rather toxic work environment, Antoinette is wracked with self doubt a general mistrust of her co-workers. Initially, this made for a difficult read. As a reader, it was difficult to connect with her and difficult to understand her motivation. This is where the mastery of Tana French came into play. Whether or not you were able to connect with Antoinette, you came to understand her. For my money, this is the greatest feat a writer can accomplish.
In most of French’s novels, the plot is generally a weak point. As far as my personal taste is concerned, if I am reading a masterful character novel, the plot becomes a non-issue. I have noted that Tana has sought to improve the plot within her stories. While she did so in her previous novel, the balance between plot and character was not quite right. In The Trespasser , she found the proper combination. While this is still a character novel by all accounts, the plot plays a far more prominent role.
The noted growth in the author’s writing marks this as one of her best to date. I will leave you to make the determination if it is better than the rest. Regardless, everything you love about Tana French is in The Trespasser and it was well worth the wait.