The Secret Place by Tana French

The Secret Place

A Retir’d Friendship


Here let us sit and bless our Starres

Who did such happy quiet give,

As that remov’d from noise of warres.

In one another’s hearts we live.


Why should we entertain a feare?

Love cares not how the world is turn’d.

If crouds of dangers should appeare,

Yet friendship can be unconcern’d.


We weare about us such a charme,

No horrour can be our offence:

For mischief’s self can doe no harme

To friendship and to innocence.


~Katherine Philips


Could not put it down, this mystery by Tana French. It brought me back to girls’ mean ways, cliques and bonds, manipulations and trickery. But in this case, there is also evil of the worst kind; unspeakable actions disguised as loving intent. It’s a powerful mystery, one that had me absolutely riveted for the past two days. Rarely have I read dialogue so true, nor a plot more expertly woven.

18 thoughts on “The Secret Place by Tana French”

    1. The first one frustrated me so much at the lack of resolution in one of the story’s threads. Unfortunately, it kept me from discovering more of Tana French’s books. Now, I am hooked.


    1. I wasn’t planning on doing a more in-depth review; part of the problem with mysteries is that I don’t want to give too much away! But, perhaps I can expand the post a bit further here:

      The setting is at a fictional elite girls’ school in Ireland named St. Kilda’s. There are essentially two main cliques who comprise the novel; one is the “popular” girls group led by Joanne, who is mean and caustic beyond measure.

      The other group is a more quiet, artistic kind.

      When a boy from the neighboring boys’ school was found dead a year ago, the murder was unresolved. At the beginning of The Secret Place, it is picked up again when a notice on a bulletin board (the secret place) says, “I know who killed him.”

      Hence the search for the killer in a plot which is fantastically interwoven, with dialogue that cracks as sharp as the air in Illinois on a bitter Winter day.

      It is a fascinating book, and I think, well worth the read.


      1. It’s hard to write about crime novels without revealing spoilers, I know exactly what you mean there. Many thanks for this summary, Bellezza. I volunteer on or two days a month at the local library, and Tana French’s books tend to attract a fair bit of attention, so it’s useful to have a feel for this one.


    1. I am looking forward to reading more of her books; all I’ve read are the first and the latest. There is a large gap, of three, unread in the middle. I bought The Likeness for a pittance at the library, I hope to get to it soon. Is that the one you have?


        1. I agree. The Likeness is one of my most favorite of hers, but it takes a lot to suspend disbelief.

          Can’t wait to try this one. Just finished The Girl on the Train. Do you plan to read it?


          1. I’ve been seeing The Girl on The Train everywhere, and you know me, I’m loathe to jump on the bandwagon…but! it does sorely tempt me, and it’s only 10 bucks on the kindle. So yes, I’ll probably read it. (Remember, though, that I was one of the very few who disliked Gone Girl? Is this anything like that?)


    1. Isn’t it funny how a book can grab you, or not? I was immediately hooked on this, but I’d “banned” Tana French after Into the Woods. Foolish me.

      This book put a whole new twist on the concept of “mean girls”.


  1. Oooh, I’m intrigued! I like stories set in schools. I used to have a mild obsession with early twentieth-century girls’ school stories. I can only say that this gave me a rather warped world view (e.g. ‘schoolgirls’ honour’, I discovered rather belatedly, doesn’t really exist outside the pages of Angela Brazil, or at least not these days) and a longing to play lacrosse.

    But you quoted Katherine Philips! Bellezza, you are just so cool. 🙂


    1. I like novels set in schools, too, particularly Donna Tartt’s The Secret History. I’d like to take credit for quoting Katherine Philips, but it was a poem direct from Tana French’s pages. You’d probably like this book as much as I did.xo


  2. I’ve been listening to this on audio and have yet to feel the least bit interested in the mystery or characters. I think I’ll stop and get the print edition instead. I hate to dismiss a favorite author’s work simply because the audio is failing to entertain. I’ve read all her other books and should have stuck with the print format rather than audio.


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