Tana French writes some really terrific, atmospheric fiction. She’s good at untangling complicated emotions and relationships and presenting them to the reader in a sympathetic fashion. But oh my God, this was the most ludicrous mystery setup I’ve ever read. It was so bad that I’m confident not even post-Meloni Law & Order: SVU would touch the premise. To wit: a former undercover cop assumes an old identity that has been stolen by a woman who shows up murdered. Fine… until you realize that she’s infiltrating not a drug ring or other form of organized crime, but a close-knit group of four other post-graduate students. None of whom, she believes for the longest time, could possibly be responsible for the murder. I mean, what in the hell kind of cop has instincts this terrible?! I get that she’s sublimating her own identity in becoming a member of their idealized “family” (and yes, the process is akin to entering a cult) due to having been orphaned herself as a child, and yes it’s an interesting mental conundrum, but the gross lack of professionalism had me seriously doubting that any superior officer in his right mind would sign off on this convoluted bullshit.
And then, to add to my outraged disbelief, the goddamned book cribs straight off Donna Tartt’s The Secret History only with cops. Why even fucking bother?! As a reader, or even as a writer? When I got to the climax of the story all I felt was “been there, and enjoyed the other version miles better.”
You know what else I couldn’t handle? How I was supposed to sympathize with “Lexie” at the end in Cassie’s imaginings. I mean, I get it, it’s a seductive lifestyle, but Lexie was a very hurtful human being, and romanticizing her shit was far too adolescent for me to stomach.
I’m at the point in this series where I still really want this to be good but am seriously side eyeing all the glowing reviews because this just isn’t as amazing as others, readers and critics I respect, would have me believe. I mean, I really did like Cassie when she got her head together and remembered that she was working, and I did like seeing how her relationship with Sam and even Rob evolved. But I’m still mad about issues unresolved in/from In The Woods, so… I dunno, one more book? I think three is enough of a series for me to really decide whether it’s worthwhile or no.