The Trespasser by Tana French is book 6 in the Dublin Murder Squad series. It takes place no long after the events of The Secret Place, book 5 in the series. The Trespasser also features the same two detectives as were in The Secret Place, something of a rarity for Tana French novels as the feature character in one novel is often a bit player in a prior one. In The Secret Place the tale is told through the eyes and voice of young Detective Stephan Moran who sees the murder as an opportunity to break into the Murder Squad. In The Trespasser, the tale is told through the eyes and voice of his partner, Detective Antoinette Conway, the lone female in the male dominated Murder Squad.
“…Forget the hit to your social life: the real reason everyone hates night shift is that nothing good ever comes in. The high-profile murders with complex backstories and fascinating motives might happen at night, sometimes, but they don’t get discovered till morning. The only murders that get noticed at night are by drunk arseholes whose motive is that they’re drunk arseholes…”
When Detective Antoinette Conway fast tracked her career from the Academy, through Undercover, then Missing Persons and then to the Murder Squad she thought she had it made. Only the Murder Squad was nothing like she expected. The alienation, the lack of confidence, the pranks and the harassment as she tried to make herself respected in this male dominated world. At times it seems like the only person she can trust is her own partner, Stephan Moran, but she knows that soon enough, even Moran will want to fit in with the Squad and then she will be alone, an outsider to their world. Antoinette is strong and battle hardened but even she has had enough and the possibility of a lucrative career outside the Force is calling to her. But can she leave all she has worked so hard for behind?
The next case that falls into their lap seems simple enough. A lover’s quarrel that ends with a beautiful young girl beaten to death. Nothing about the victim calls out that this is anything else.
Aislinn Murray is a pretty, blond, very well groomed young woman. Her dead body is found next to a table set for a romantic dinner. Everything points to a crime of passion but Antoinette is not entirely convinced. She is sure she has seen Aislinn somewhere before. But Antoinette and Stephan are being shadowed by another Detective. A senior Detective whose mission it seems is to make sure nothing goes wrong on this investigation. This is another example to Antoinette of the lack of trust her boss has in her. Arresting Aislinn’s new boyfriend seems to be the quick and simple remedy and what is expected. But Antoinette is not so sure, there seems to be more to this than what appears on the surface and Antoinette has never been someone who does well when she is pushed to do something she does not believe in. Besides, there is something about Aislinn that keeps bothering her.
“…Whoever did this…it’s like he killed a little kid: someone who never even had a chance to get her life started. He took away her whole entire life…”
Now Antoinette is sure that there is more to this murder than what meets the eye, but the pressure to wrap it up quickly is bearing down on her. Are her instincts off? Who can she trust? Or is all this just another attempt to make her leave the Squad.
The Trespasser is as much a tale of a young woman fighting for her place in a male dominated world as it is about the violent murder of a young woman. You are never sure if all the slights and the harassment Antoinette is going through are real or just a part of her growing paranoia. Perhaps it is her training as an undercover operative but Antoinette has definite issues with trust and always senses that others have ulterior motives in their actions. While that suspicious mind may help her in working her cases, it has made her very difficult to deal with as part of a team. Thus alienating her from the other Detectives even more.
Antionette is a compelling character, as conflicted as she is determined. At times it is only her own stubbornness that keeps her part of the Squad. An unwillingness to allow the men to drive her out. But as the tale progresses you get the sense that so much of the feeling of oppression she feels is brought on by her own self. A powerful need to self destruct that comes as much from her desire to show up others as her own past.
Her young partner Stephan Moran is devoted to her but even he is worn thin by her paranoia. He knows that the longer her stays by her side, the more damage will be done to his own career.
And then there is the dead body. A simple apparent crime of passion that has the capacity to balloon into a career destroying blunder.
The Trespasser is a tense drama that plays out to a stunning and sad end.
Another good novel by French.