It takes two rings before Lucy answers the intercom, in a voice coated with sleep. ‘‘Lo?’
Steve says, ‘Lucy Riordan?’
‘Detective Garda Stephen Moran. Could we have a word?’
A long second. Then Lucy says, and the sleep’s fallen off her voice, ‘I’ll be down in a minute.’
She opens the door fast and wide awake. She’s short and fit, the kind of fit you get from life, not from the gym – she wears it like it’s owned, not rented. Platinum hair with a long sweep of fringe falling in her face – pale face with clean quick features, smudges of last night’s mascara. She’s wearing a black hoodie, paint-splashed black combats, nothing on her feet, a lot of silver ear jewellery and what looks to me like a fair-sized hangover. She has bugger-all in common with Aislinn Murray, or with what I was expecting.
We have our IDs out and read. ‘I’m Detective Garda Stephen Moran,’ Steve says, ‘and this is my partner, Detective Garda Antoinette Conway.’ And he pauses. You always leave a gap there.
Lucy doesn’t even look at the IDs. She says, sharp, ‘Is it Aislinn?’
commentary: The book has many references to clothes: what people wear is important, the styles of Aislinn and her friend are very different, for good reasons. We can take note of who has an expensive coat, who has nice-boy clothes. But I have an admission to make, which is that from quite early on I more or less stopped making notes, or seeing those clothes as blog fodder, or anything really except clicking my Kindle as fast as possible. It’s a long book, maybe even repetitious, it could probably have been shortened. But I ripped through it, endlessly anxious to know what happened next, and what the truth was about the case. What more can you ask for from a book?
Earlier this year I did a post on Tana French’s The Secret Place, one of the best books I’ve read this year, and one of the best new-to-me writers I’ve encountered. This is her new book about the Dublin Murder Squad, and, yes, it’s another zinger. Conway and Moran are the two detectives from the earlier book, and they’ve been given what looks like a routine domestic killing: a young woman who was preparing to entertain a young man at home has been murdered. Surely it’s obvious that her date did it? There seems to be pressure for the case to be wrapped up quickly and comfortably. Antoinette and Steve aren’t happy with that – but can’t work out exactly where the problems lie.
The interviews with Aislinn’s friends and acquaintances are very absorbing, and (as with Secret Place) the book takes place over a very short time frame – I was puzzled that a particular witness hadn’t been re-interviewed, but then realized that very little time had passed.
She’s great at descriptions and characters – you feel you know this Dublin and these Dubliners by the end – and she is very funny in glancing lines:
If she slapped him down, his inner Hulk could well have burst his good going-out jumper.
Anyone who turns herself into Barbie because that’s the only way she feels worthwhile needs a kick up the hole, but someone who does it for a revenge mission deserves a few points for determination.
She could have helped him alphabetize the feng shui section. Jaysus, the romance.The book’s not for the faint at heart – it has harsh language and attitudes, nobody is pulling any punches. There were a few moments where I had mental arguments with the main characters – but everything was more or less resolved in the plotline. But none of that seems to matter anyway, compared with the joy of a book that pins you to your chair and makes you read it.
Blogging friend Cleo at Cleo Loves Books has done a great review of this one, with more details of the plot (she was better at making notes than I was…)
Pictures from Pinterest and ASOS.