cover image The Secret Place

The Secret Place

Tana French, read by Stephen Hogan and Lara Hutchinson. Penguin Audio, , unabridged, 16 CDs, 20 hrs., $50 ISBN 978-1-61176-135-1

French’s fifth Dublin Murder Squad entry focuses on Stephen Moran, a smart detective feeling his ambition cool in the cold-cases department. When 16-year-old Holly Mackey, a student at St. Kilda’s exclusive suburban school for girls, presents him with key information on the unsolved murder of a boy from a neighboring academy, he sees this as his ticket back into the city’s elite Murder Squad, where he once apprenticed with Holly’s father, Frank. But first he has to convince the detective assigned to the case—Antoinette Conway, the squad’s ultra-abrasive sole woman—to use him in the investigation. The book consists of Moran’s narration, broken by flashbacks from Holly and her closest schoolmates, recalling a time before the murder. Readers Hogan and Hutchinson, Dubliners as well as skilled performers, present the compelling prose with nuance and lyrical naturalness. Hogan captures Moran’s anxious desire to succeed and the brittle loneliness not quite hidden in Conway’s hard-boiled attitude. Hutchinson’s softer, higher-pitched voice clearly delineates Holly’s flashbacks, moving between a schoolgirl’s sentimentality and the snobbery, anger, and impatience of a temperamental teen. Most of the novel takes place at St. Kilda’s, and it’s a testament to the quality of the prose and the readers that, at 20 hours, it never feels claustrophobic. A Viking hardcover. (Sept.)