The Trespasser-By Tana French

Well, a few of you said you might read a book review if I wrote one, so here I am, finally getting around to writing one. And unsurprisingly, most of you Hallmark fans are also reading fans like me. So let’s get into my thoughts on the Trespasser.

I recently heard of Tana French after reading a handful of books by seemingly similar authors-Ruth Ware and Lucy Foley. I guess they are similar because they take place in Great Britain. I did not realize I would be reading the 6th installment of a detective series. Initially, I was pleasantly surprised. While I strive to be as #basic as I can be, I do prefer fictional crime novels over true crime.

Let’s briefly cover the plot and then I’ll share my thoughts. WARNING-SPOILERS AHEAD. I learned after reading this book that this is part of the Dublin Murder Squad series. I’ve now read two of them and I think each book follows a different detective within the squad. It also doesn’t seem like you need to read the books in order, though as I read this, I kept thinking I was missing something in the lead character’s back story. Again, google tells me that the previous books don’t actually cover this so maybe future books will or do.

Antoinette Conway is our lead character and the narrator of the book. She was raised by a single mom who told her various wild stories about her biological dad as she grew up. She is…altogether totally unlikeable. She assumes the worst of her colleagues (mostly without reason) and has no interest in being a team player. Personally, books with an unlikeable main character can be difficult for me to enjoy. But let’s put a pin in that for now. Antoinette is paired up with Stephan Moran, who I believe IS featured in previous books. He seems more willing to “play the game” or go along to get along, if you will. He is also seemingly the only person on the squad who seems to tolerate Antoinette.

So the book begins with Conway and Moran getting a call right near the end of their shift-a woman found dead in her home, probably domestic violence. The body was reported by a mysterious and anonymous person to the local police office. As Conway and Moran are somewhat new, they’re told they need to include a more senior detective in the case as well-Detective Breslin. This particularly annoys Conway so she and Moran make a plan to begin a game of phone tag with Breslin so they can take the lead on the case. By all accounts, they expect it to be an open and shut domestic case.

Upon arrival at the scene, Conway realizes she recognizes the murder victim, Aislynn Murray put can’t place her. By all accounts, the murder seems pretty open and shut, but Conway and Moran can’t help but let their imaginations run wild. They wonder if Aislynn might have been caught up with organized crime or drugs or some other terribly exciting thing. Their first interview with Aislynn’s best friend only encourages this line of thinking because she is definitely hiding something. They agree to keep their suspicions to themselves.

Unfortunately, their interview with Aislynn’s boyfriend, Rory, doesn’t really settle matters. He seems to be a whiny, wimpy man who is probably not capable of murder. However, Breslin is totally convinced. He quickly grows tired of Moran and Conway’s attempts to look elsewhere. Eventually, Conway remembers that she met Aislynn when she worked in the Missing Persons unit. Aislynn had been trying to track down her dad. Conway had no interest in being helpful and pawned her off on someone else. They wonder if there is any connection to this case? It doesn’t really seem like it.

As the book progresses, Conway seems increasingly paranoid that the entire squad is against her and colluding to get her to either quit or be fired. Again, I missed any back story so from this book’s context, it is totally unfounded. Instead, through her own actions, Conway seems to make things harder for herself. She seems to find a way to take offense in every single encounter she has. It’s exhausting. Eventually, she accuses Moran of…I don’t know, trying to step on her as he climbs the ladder and they temporarily part ways. At one point I just want to shake this imaginary person and say-no one cares about you as much as you think they do! But Conway is now so in her own head and so caught up in her own paranoia that she ultimately plans to leave the force as soon as this case wraps up.

The actual story-the mystery of who killed Aislynn Murray does keep me on my toes. While Moran and Conway ultimately dismiss the gang theory, it also seems unlikely that Rory, while creepy in his own way, killed Aislynn. They start wondering if perhaps it was Breslin! The very man tasked with the case, who is absolutely convinced that Rory did it and wants to just quickly tie this whole thing up. As they dig deeper into what happened with Aislynn’s dad, they begin to suspect that another detective in their squad, McCann, may have had something to do with it. This is a bit surprising because, well, McCann is not the type of person a young, beautiful woman would be interested in. It doesn’t add up…UNTIL

Conway and Moran interview the friend again and the whole story comes tumbling out. Aislynn, obsessed with crime fiction and the disappearance of her dad, decides to find out once and for all what happened to him. Her plan is to charm the detective originally involved in the case to find out what happened. Surprisingly, this kind of all goes off without a hitch. She charms the married McCann and they begin to spend time together. Finally, the opportunity arises for her to casually ask about old Missing Persons cases and he mentions her dad’s! (without naming names, of course.) Unfortunately for both parties, this information sets Aislynn on a path towards destruction. McCann tells her that they discovered that her dad had skipped town and started over with another woman, but he determined that Aislynn’s mom was too fragile for this information and never told her. So Aislynn and her mom spent their whole life wondering what happened and Aislynn strongly believed this ruined the rest of her mother’s life. So naturally, Aislynn initiates a very complicated plan to destroy McCann’s life. She plans for him to get so caught up with her that he decides to leave his wife, at which point Aislynn will dump him and he’ll be left with nothing. Her friend tells her that it insane (correct) and she should just move on. But no. However, while this is all going on, Aislynn meets Rory and kind of does feel like ending things with McCann. However, McCann has begun to like seeing Aislynn on his own terms, coming and going as he pleases and maybe is considering leaving his wife for her. So ultimately Moran and Conway surmise that Aislynn has set up a dinner with her new boyfriend as a new opportunity to make McCann jealous or hurt his feelings or whatever. Except that McCann ends up killing Aislynn when he arrives unannounced and discovers the dinner is for someone else. He calls his partner, Breslin, and tells him there’s been an accident and can he buy some time? Or that he got there and she was already dead but he doesn’t want his name mixed up in it. Refreshingly, when Moran and Conway take their findings to their supervisor, O’Kelly, he does actually hold McCann accountable rather than try and sweep it under the rug. Conway comes to her senses and realizes that the majority of the squad is not actually out to get her and that Moran is probably just a nice guy that wants to be her friend. She decides to stay at the Squad.

I liked the actual mystery component of this book, though I felt Aislynn as a character was a bit too unrealistic for me. The idea of a secret affair with a seemingly honest cop was an interesting concept (and twist!). But I just don’t buy a character like Aislynn and her whole plan to ruin this guy for not telling her mom and her what happened all those years ago. It may have been more compelling had Aislynn also been a narrator, but we only hear of her plan through other people. Oh and fact that her murder didn’t have anything to do with that plan was tough too. Like, McCann never knew that she was playing him. He just straight up got jealous. He didn’t know about her plan until Conway and Moran told him during questioning. So it’s just one of those things where you’re wondering, what’s this all been about?

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book, despite disliking the main character. ( I don’t know that we’re meant to like her, but I don’t like disliking a main character if that makes sense.) I found myself comparing this to other detective series I’ve read and for now, I’m placing this series at the bottom, behind Louise Penny, Michael Connelly and J.A. Jance. Perhaps I need a few more books to get into the world. But I do LOVE getting into a series so after this, I started at the beginning of this series. That review will be up next!

Tell me what you thought of this book in the comments! What did I miss?

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