My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy and his new partner Richie Curran get called out to investigate a brutal crime in a crumbling, failed, mostly empty housing estate. Two children are dead, smothered in their beds. The unemployed father is dead of multiple stab wounds and the mother is barely alive and unconscious.
The detectives immediately find more strange and unsettling things at the Spain house. There are holes smashed in the walls, with video cameras pointed at the holes and at the hatch to the attic (which is covered with wire, as if to keep something from getting out). The wife had confided in her sister that she thought an intruder had been entering the house unobserved over the past few months. And someone has set up an observation post in the empty house across the street so as to watch the place.
It's the slow peeling away of the layers of this mystery that keeps the reader fascinated and engaged. If you're looking for an edge of your seat, "who will survive and what will be left of them" thriller with the heroes in danger at every turn, this is not the book for you. The drama and conflict comes in the interaction of the characters and in their personal lives, particularly Mick's travails with his mentally unbalanced sister Dina and the memories they both carry of their mother's suicide at the beach resort that was replaced by the development where the murders took place. This means that the book sometimes gets a little slow and talky. I also had trouble swallowing one of Richie's decisions, one that's the setup for the major reveal. It just didn't seem like something that character would do.
But, as always with Tana French, the prose is absolutely beautiful--I stopped to read the soliloquy at the beginning of Chapter 18 three times because it was so perfect, even though I knew there was a major turning point about to happen. And the ending was absolutely shattering. Recommended.
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