The Trespasser by Tana French is the 6th Dublin Murder Squad novel from the New York Times bestselling author. (Available today!)
Read this exclusive excerpt from The Trespasser by Tana French, and make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win a copy of the novel!
Being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.
Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her—except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.
And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette's road. Aislinn's friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.
Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?
I already know Viking Gardens. I live a ten-minute walk away—because I like Stoneybatter, not because I can’t afford anything fancier—and one of the routes I use for my run goes past the top of the road. It’s less exciting than it sounds: a scruffy cul‑de‑sac, lined with Victorian terraced cottages fronting straight onto patched‑up pavements. Low slate roofs, net curtains, bright-painted doors. The street is narrow enough that the parked cars all have two tires on the curb.
This is about as long as we can get away with not ringing Breslin, before he shows up at work and the gaffer wants to know what he’s doing there. Before we get out of the car, I ring his voice mail—which may or may not buy us a few extra minutes, but at least it saves me making chitchat—and leave a message. I make the case sound boring as shite, which doesn’t take much, but I know that won’t slow him down. Breslin likes thinking he’s Mr. Indispensable; he’ll show up just as fast for a shitty domestic as he would for a skin-stripping serial killer, because he knows the poor victim is bollixed until he gets there to save the day.
“Let’s move,” I say, swinging my satchel over my shoulder. Number 26 is the one down the far end of the road, with the crime-scene tape and the marked car and the white Technical Bureau van. A cluster of kids hanging about by the tape scatter when they see us coming (“Ahhh! Run!” “Here, missus, get him, he robs Toffypops out of the shop—” “Shut the fuck up, you!”) but we still get watched all the way down the road. Behind the net curtains, the windows are popping questions like popcorn.
“I want to wave,” Steve says, under his breath. “Can I wave, yeah?”
“Act your age, you.” But the shot of adrenaline is hitting me, too, no matter how I fight it. Even when you know trained chimps could do your job that day, the walk to the scene gets you: turns you into a gladiator walking towards the arena, a few heartbeats away from a fight that’ll make emperors chant your name. Then you take a look at the scene, your arena and your emperor go up in smoke, and you feel shittier than ever. The uniform at the door is just a kid, long wobbly-looking neck and big ears holding up a too-big hat. “Detectives,” he says, snapping upright and trying to work out whether to salute. “Garda J. P. Dooley.” Or something. His accent needs subtitles.
“Detective Conway,” I say, finding gloves and shoe covers in my bag. “And that’s Detective Moran. Seen anyone hanging around who shouldn’t be?”
“Just them kids, like.” The kids will need talking to, and so will their parents. The thing about old neighborhoods: people still mind each other’s business. It doesn’t suit everyone, but it suits us. “We didn’t do any door‑to‑door yet; we thought ye might want it done your own way, like.”
“Good call,” Steve says, pulling on his gloves. “We’ll get someone onto it. What was that like when you got here?”
He nods at the cottage door, which is a harmless shade of blue, splintered where the uniforms bashed it in. “Closed,” the uniform says promptly.
“Well, yeah, I got that,” Steve says, but with a grin that makes it a shared joke, not the smackdown I would have pulled out. “Closed how? Bolted, double-locked, on the latch?”
“Oh, right, sorry, I—” The uniform’s gone red. “There’s a Chubb lock and a Yale. ’Twasn’t double-locked, but. On the latch, only.”
Meaning if the killer left this way, he just pulled the door closed behind him; he didn’t need a key. “Alarm going off?”
“No. Like, there is an alarm system, like”— the uniform points at the box on the wall above us—“but it wasn’t set. It didn’t go off when we went in, even.”
“Thanks,” Steve says, giving him another grin. “That’s great.” The uniform goes scarlet. Stevie has a fan.
The door swings open, and Sophie Miller sticks her head out. Sophie has big brown eyes and a ballerina build and makes a hooded white boiler suit look some kind of elegant, so a lot of people try to give her shit, but they only try once. She’s one of the best crime-scene techs we’ve got, plus the two of us like each other. Seeing her is more of a relief than it should be.
“Hey,” she says. “About time.”
“Roadworks,” I say. “Howya. What’ve we got?”
“Looks like another lovers’ tiff to me. Have you called dibs on them, or what?”
“Better than gangsters,” I say. I feel Steve’s quick startled glance, throw him a cold one back: he knows me and Sophie are mates, but he should also know I’m not gonna go crying on my mate’s shoulder about squad business. “At least on domestics, you get the odd witness who’ll talk. Let’s have a look.”
The cottage is small: we walk straight into the sitting-slash-dining room. Three doors off it, and I already know which is what: bedroom off to the left, kitchen straight ahead, shower room to the right of that—the layout is the same as my place. The decor is nothing like, though. Purple rug on the laminate flooring, heavy purple curtains trying to look expensive, purple throw artistically arranged on the white leather sofa, forgettable canvas prints of purple flowers: the room looks like it was bought through some Decorate Your Home app where you plug in your budget and your favorite colors and the whole thing arrives in a van the next day.
In there it’s still last night. The curtains are closed; the overhead lights are off, but standing lamps are on in odd corners. Sophie’s techs—one kneeling by the sofa picking up fibers with Sellotape, one dusting a side table for prints, one doing a slow sweep with a video camera—have their headlamps on. The room is stifling hot and stinks of cooked meat and scented candle. The tech by the sofa is fanning the front of his boiler suit, trying to get some air in there.
The gas fire is on, fake coals glowing, flames flickering away manically at the overheated room. The fireplace is cut stone, fake-rustic to go with the adorable little artisan cottage. The woman’s head is resting on the corner of the hearth.
She’s on her back, knock-kneed, like someone threw her there. One arm is by her side; the other is up over her head, bent at an awkward angle. She’s maybe five seven, skinny, wearing spike heels, plenty of fake tan, a tight-fitting cobalt-blue dress and a chunky fake-gold necklace.
Her face is covered by blond hair, straightened and sprayed so ferociously that even murder hasn’t managed to mess it up. She looks like Dead Barbie.
Excerpt from The Trespasser by Tana French, published on October 4, 2016 by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright by Tana French, 2016.
Comment below for a chance to win a copy of The Trespasser by Tana French!
To enter, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.
TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!
The Trespasser Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry. To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/stories/2016/10/the-trespasser-new-excerpt-tana-french-comment-sweepstakes beginning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) October 4, 2016. Sweepstakes ends 9:59 a.m. ET October 18, 2016. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.
To learn more or order a copy, visit:
Tana French is the author of In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place, and The Trespasser. Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.