I have loved mysteries since my mother brought a box of her Nancy Drew books down from the attic for me. (For those of you who are thinking about re-reading these books as an adult - DO NOT DO IT, let Nancy rest as a heroine in your memory.) I do not like mysteries that are gory, or supernatural (Exhibit #1: Pride and Presience by Carrie Bebris. I am NOT interested in a mystery that promotes itself as a solvable mystery, but then, the perpetrator is a GHOST...ridiculous, and I do not feel at all guilty about having just spoiled the ending...better to be warned than pissed off like I was.)
Moving along, I decided to start my relationship with books by Tana French with her most recent, The Secret Place. I was drawn to it for a number of reasons: 1. My father speaks highly of In the Woods. 2. The very first mystery I read post-Nancy Drew was Cat Among the Pigeons, by Agatha Christie, (also recommended by my father) which takes place at an all-girls school. 3. Having been a teenage girl, and taught them for many years, I know how they can be. This book has them characterized perfectly. Not as sure about the teenage boys, but suspect they are pretty accurate as well.
Now, I am hooked. The story is fascinating. The police procedural bits are informative. The girl/boy social bits are eerily foreshadow-ish since the crime is almost a cold case, which means it is never a question that murder has been done. And the writing is beautiful. This is a not a mystery to tear through to get to the denouement, it is instead a story to savor, working out the clues with Stephen Moran and Antoinette Conway, living in the flashbacks that interweave with one day at St. Kilda's following a trail that went cold 9 months before. The slow build toward the revelation of the killer is immersive.
I will now work backward and read all of French's books, then wait with baited breath for the next release. I am going to start with Faithful Place, an earlier book with Holly Mackey and Stephen Moran who both feature in The Secret Place.