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on September 10, 2014
I began this novel with lovely anticipation. I have loved Tana French's writing from book #1. At page 200-something, I found myself actually counting the number of pages left but wanting to know who-done-it. Now at page 300-something, I'm finding I just don't care.

Can't speed read this story - might miss one of French's lovely, aching passages - which are there. Her prose is amazing and wonderful. But - OMG ! Enough with the constant re-caps and going over and over and over the same thing.

The chapters alternate and more is revealed in each one - and that started out being fun. But reveal faster, please - the world might end before this story does! Where the heck was Ms. French's editor on this one?

I hate not loving this novel.
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on September 5, 2014
If you are a fan of Tana French, I think you should go ahead and read this. However if you're new to her work, skip this and go read The Likeness instead. Something was lacking in the substance of this novel that I have hard time articulating. Her writing style is stellar and the overall plot compelling. Something in the execution just absolutely fell flat and false to me. I think I felt that I needed more background on the girl's relationships to render their choices believable. Their texting/Kardashianesque dialogue should have belied a greater depth of their relationship and intentions than we experienced. Any exposition on the girls' friendships and motivations felt cursory and flat. Exploring the friendships and personalities deeper would have lent more credibility to the actions. I understand the book was largely from an adult male's perspective, but the deeper elements of the girls' story shouldn't have been marginalized. I love suspense stories about young adults in tight friend packs, and perhaps I've been spoiled by the stories built by Wolitzer, Lippman, and Tartt around too-close friendships. What surprises me is that French did a bang-up job of this herself in The Likeness! All this said...I still read it in 3 days. That is the power of French!
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on September 30, 2014
Who wrote this mess? Where was her editor? Where was the character development? The plot? I have loved all of Tana French's previous novels, especially Into the Woods, and I just can't believe she wrote this. This could be used as a primer on how not to write a novel. I so wanted to love it and now I just want to bang my head into a wall. I threw this book in my own secret place - the trash can.
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on October 3, 2014
Good writer - intelligent and insightful at times - but so drawn out, repetitive and boring! Unlike some of the other reviewers, I actually liked some of the characters- especially the two detectives & Mackey - but I grew so tired of their never-ending brain storming sessions- enough already - now get on with it!
I really didn't like the whole supernatural stuff thrown in there either - why? Made no sense! Seems like some questions were never answered - while others were answered over & over again- it's almost like the author forgot where she left off when she took a break, so just jumped back in any old place
The ending unfolded way too slowly - geez - we get it !
I'm exhausted just from the effort it took to finish this book - better luck next time!
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on October 5, 2014
Loved all the past Tana French books and had pre-ordered this with anticipation, however this underwhelmed. Almost an entire book of 2 detectives questioning of a group of girls in a private school in one afternoon, with alternating chapters of the girl's lives prior to the murder they were investigating. I was dying for them just to leave the schoolroom where they were doing the questioning. Dying for the "testimony" of any of the girls to reveal something at all and not be so painstakingly boring. Dying for the snippets of the girl's lives to make more sense - their lives and backstory were clouded with paranormal/witchcraft-y? super powers that didn't make sense and weren't clarified at they end - were the powers real? Were they imagined by the girls? Did they even tie in to the story? Would skip this one.
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I have read all of Tana French's books and she is on her mark with her latest, The Secret Place. It is filled with atmosphere, great characterization, language that calls for the reader not to skip even one word, and a story that keeps getting better with each page. Ms. French writes literary fiction that just happens to be a mystery as well.The Secret Place is about a lot of things: friendships, jealousies, love, teenagers, police investigations, and murder.

Holly Mackey, 16 years old and the daughter of a detective who was featured in one of Ms. French's earlier books, is a student at St. Kilda's, a posh girls' school in Ireland. The Secret Place is a noticeboard in the school. If you have a secret, you put it on a card and tack it to the board. "The students use images and captions to convey their messages anonymously." Holly finds a note on the board that says "I know who killed him". The note refers to the murder of Chris Harper, a student at the boys' school next door. His head was bashed in about one year ago and his murder has become a cold case. Holly takes the card to Detective Stephen Moran, a detective in the cold case department of police headquarters.

Detective Moran is 32 years old and wants to move up. "Cold cases is good. Murder is better." "I'd been wishing for the murder squad for a long time." He takes the card to Detective Antoinette Conway of the murder squad who was the lead detective in the Christopher Harper murder. Her partner recently retired and Moran sees an opening for himself. "Conway wasn't going to want me. She was getting me anyway." Together, the two of them go to St. Kilda's and re-open the investigation.

What they find at St. Kilda's shakes them to the core. The adolescents are secretive, mocking, and altogether not helpful. Conway says all the girls are liars. At the school they find a "shimmer in the air that says 'danger'". The girls are grouped together in friendships that mean the world to them. They have made their families through these friendships. Who is trying to protect whom and what are their secrets? This is what Moran and Conway are trying to find out. There are two major cliques and they hate one another.

The novel goes back and forth in time, alternating between the voices of the detectives in the present, and the voices of the girls prior to Chris's murder. The four girls in the primary group each get a chance to speak about what happened in their own voice. The novel very carefully lets the reader know when the girls' chapters are taking place by stating how much time is still left for Chris to live.

I found it difficult to put the book down. Ms. French has a magical way with words, a unique gift of narrative that is solely her own. At times I wanted to call it magical realism but it is not quite that. The novel grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let me go, even when it was finished. Ms. French wants to show the complexity of human nature and she navigates the internal and external worlds of her characters with a shimmering quality.
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on September 13, 2014
I will agree with so many others that I could not wait until this book came out. Tana French is can amazing writer and I have loved all of her previous books,but this one I do not like, not even a little bit. The pace is unbearably slow, the plot shallow, the characters uninteresting (and far too many of them!) and the teenage slang over much so that I ignored a lot of it. Which means I did not finish the book. I do not even care to find out 'whodunit'!
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on September 20, 2014
This book, which is being praised to the skies in the media, is just tedious. Most of it involves the ramblings of teenaged girls in what in the USA is known as Valley Girl speech (OMG, LOL, and the like is ubiquitous as well). It is just tedious, and by the time the killer's identity is revealed, I was to the point of "Who cares?"
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on September 9, 2014
According to my Kindle I'm 59% through this book. I don't think I'll get to 60% or if I do it's only because I paid $12.00 for it. This book is LIKE SO DUMB. I can't get through the teenage vernacular. Since every other chapter is a flashback to the teens in the boarding schools involved I started skipping those chapters. OMG LIKE WOW. KMN.
I loved everyone of Tana French's previous books and was so looking forward to this one I pre-ordered.
This buyer is very remorseful.
For those of you who, like me, were looking forward to the Frank Mackey character, he's not in it, his daughter is. (Unless he's in the second half)
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on January 9, 2015
This is the first book I have read by Tana French and I am hooked! I actually finished the book a few days ago and I have been pondering how to approach my review. I'm not really satisfied with this but it's the best I could do without giving away essential parts of the story.

The setting is an exclusive girls school in Dublin. Detective Stephen Moran is approached by Holly Mackey, the 16 year old daughter of a colleague. Holly has come across a posting on the secret place concerning a boy's murder that happened about a year ago on the school grounds. The secret place is a bulletin board of sorts that is used by the girls to vent their feelings and sometimes to take jabs at their schoolmates. Holly gives Detective Moran a picture of the murdered boy that has the caption "I know who killed him". This is the detective's opening to hopefully move from cold cases to murder investigations. He takes the picture to the homicide department so that he can finagle his way into being a part of the investigation. Much to his dismay, the detective assigned to the case is Antionette Conway who helped with the initial investigation a year ago. Detective Conway has a reputation for being abrasive, hard-nosed and by the book. Moran decides to meet the challenge and work with Conway. The book actually covers a 24 hour period and it details the current investigation and the events of a year ago. This is a wonderful mystery as well as an examination of loyalty, friendships and human interaction, emotions and reactions. This is a great book and as I said earlier, my review does not do it justice. I highly recommend getting a copy and reading it for yourself. I was very fortunate to receive a copy from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.
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