Viking, 2014

Review published Jan 2017.

The author has written several crime novels involving the Dublin Murder Squad. Here Stephen Moran uses the opportunity provided by possession of a clue to a recent murder to move from cold cases to the murder squad itself. He will assist Antoinette Conway in solving the killing of a teen-aged boy, a student at St. Colm’s, a Catholic high school twinned with St. Kilda’s for girls. It is pretty obvious that the killer is associated with one of the schools, and the clue seems to narrow it to the students at St. Kilda’s. We get to know almost a dozen of the girls through flashbacks and present-day scenes. These are bright, generally privileged children striving for sophistication by playing with language and customs. The girls, even more than the boys (whom we don’t see as well) are two tight-knit groups. Getting them to speak honestly has already found the police defeated; can Moran succeeed where the early investigation has failed?

The strongest points of the book are the episodes involving the girls as they move through their schoolwork and boarding school experiences, realizing that they will be soon leaving for college and leaving their parents’ homes. French is spot-on with her allusions and word choices.

The weakest parts of the book are the adjustments the reader must make to the flashbacks. French has set herself a tough challenge and generally pulls it off, although falling apart a bit at the end. The book is too long and a bit repetitious, which doesn’t help.

However, I couldn’t put it down. The author has a reputation as a gifted crime writer and she is living up to it. I’m looking forward to reading more of her stories.