This is book six in Tana French's 'Murder Squad Series' but can easily be read as a standalone.
As the story opens, a glamorous young woman named Aislinn Murray is found dead in her house and - since it appears to be a domestic dispute - the investigation is assigned to Murder Squad newbies - Detectives Antoinette Conway and Steve Moran. Conway is the only woman on the squad and has been having a rough time with the guys, replete with disrespectful behavior, practical jokes, swiped case files, etc. Conway is determined to show her mettle so she's especially irked when senior investigator Breslin is assigned to 'help with' the case.
When Conway and Moran talk to Aislinn's friend Lucy, they're told the dead woman has been dating a bookstore owner named Rory Fallon. According to Lucy, Aislinn liked Rory but made it a point to play 'hard to get.' The detectives also learn that Aislinn's father vanished years ago, never to be heard from again. His unsolved disappearance shattered Aislinn and her mother, and changed the course of their lives. Moreover it was only a couple of years ago - after her mother died - that Aislinn dieted, got a makeover, bought new clothes, and transformed herself into a beauty.
The detectives question Aislinn's boyfriend Rory, and the bookstore owner admits he was invited to dinner at Aislinn's on the night of the murder. He says he arrived right on time but Aislinn didn't answer the door or respond to his texts. Because Rory acts squirrelly during the interview he becomes the number one suspect. Still, Conway and Moran aren't sure Rory's guilty and want to investigate further. Breslin, on the other hand, pressures the duo to arrest Rory and close the case.....to get kudos for the Murder Squad.
Conway and Moran continue their inquirires and get a whiff of another boyfriend in Aislinn's life, a mysterious man who might be a gangster. The partners also get the feeling that certain members of the Murder Squad are trying to derail the investigation. Could there be corruption in police ranks? Maybe even gang ties? The partners plan to find out.
Most of the action in the book revolves around questioning witnesses. There are long interrogation scenes during which the police use various strategies to get the witnesses and suspects off-balance and talking. These techniques - especially those devised by Conway - are described in great detail.
There's a good bit of suspense as Conway and Moran try to find Aislinn's killer.....and events take some unexpected turns.
I like Tana French's books but this wasn't one of my favorites. For me the numerous extended interrogation scenes became tiresome. I also found the atmosphere in the Murder Squad troubling, with the male detectives hassling Conway: spitting in her coffee, peeing in her locker, stealing her witness statements, etc. This kind of thing is unacceptable and Conway should have done something about it.....especially since she's pretty badass in other areas of her life. I was happy, at least, that Conway didn't buckle to pressure from Detective Breslin.
Overall, this is a good story that leads to a satisfactory climax. I'd recommend the book to mystery readers, especially fans of the Murder Squad series.
Rating: 3 stars