Except few (Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot then; Cormoran Strike now; the classic bengali detectives forever), I don’t really dig into having my favorite fictional, literary sleuth getting repeated.
I would rather prefer standalone detective novels that have its police-person/private investigator- diving straight into the heart of the murder, having flashbacks of his/her own tormented life intermittently, getting nudged by a side-kick, solving the crime, wrapping it nicely with a perfect bow, going home and not coming back again for the next book.
But it all changed when I bumped into ‘Into The Woods’ by Tana French exactly 1 month back and I fell for her writing- hook, line and sinker.
In case you haven’t heard about this dashing ‘psychology slash literary mystery’ author from Dublin so far, here are 6 reasons why you should grab a piece of Tana French –
Her prose is like fine alcohol
The friends, who are into finer things in life, describe how sipping into a rich single malt takes time to build up the ‘mood’. This is nothing like the cheap, Nasik port wine the freelancers in this world get by. Its only when I lost myself into the world of Tana French for the first time, the analogy slowly dawned upon me.
There is no cheap thrill, no crackling opening line, goriness (well, there are gory details in her novels but nothing that make my mind go to puke-zone) or voyeuristic sex scenes. Instead, you would get a plot that may not hook you from the word-go but given time, it will wrap you around its ‘literary’ finger.
Reading her enriches vocab
It took me a ripe 30 and 3 more years on top of it, to learn that ‘banjax’ means destroying or ruining things. The binge-reader of American thrillers in me hasn’t encountered this word anywhere else till she lays her fingers on Tana French.
The 4-and-half books by Tanan French I have read so far, have repeated ‘banjax’ umpteen times. May be Irish bloods love ‘banjaxing’ more than breaking down.
‘Bollix’ (cute), ‘snogging’ (*cough*), ‘shagging’ (*double cough*. What happened to good, ol’ banging?)- are other repeat offenders (?). No doubt, I find my lexicon stronger now-a-days.
There is no super sleuth
There is no single lone wolf in her ‘Dublin Murder Squad’ series that goes on case-solving spree one-after-another. Rather, the detective-protagonist on one novel takes backseat (or simply evaporates or get reminisced by) in the next book.
This is pretty interesting as per my view and we get to learn different perspectives of different undercover or murder-squad cops. No same- old with Tana French, if you like variety.
The ghost who- is- not- there
The tinge of paranormal in the near-brilliant ‘In The Woods’ and captivating ‘The Likeness’- caught me off guard. I never expected to read about an eerie draft on the neck or a blood-chilling laugh in the woods- in a perfect modern setting.
Especially the ending of ‘In the Woods’ would surely make you bang your head on the wall- with its rather mystic, open-end. I love this cocktail of crime+ barely there ghost.
The woman who talks for ‘men’
Though I would like to spare my beloved- crime-fiction genre from never-ending man-woman split, here I get awestruck about- how Tana French glides through the male protagonists’ heads and brings out the ‘believable’ manly-thoughts (for the lack of better words). In those interrogation scenes at murder-squad office, they come out crackling.
The authoress who fleshes out powerful women characters- is smashing. The authoress who wraps her male creations around her little finger, make them dance and dare to her music in such effortless manner- I would give her pass to simply banjax, mess up and mesmerize my mind any day.
She should be brand ambassador for ‘Dublin Sinister/Mysterious Walk’
These days I am dreaming about take a walk around the campus of Trinity College, having fish and chips and a pint of Guinness at a little pub in The Liberties or roaming around the archeological ruins in Knocknaree.
Tana French’s elegant and taut prose describing Dublin- with its suburbs, its under-belly, the working-class part of the town, the eerie forests and sleepy neighborhoods might not be what the Lonely Planets of the world advertise for. But they are tempting enough for me to go completely broke and take a trip to Dublin.
In case you are able to squeeze out some reading time, nose-dive into the worlds created by Tana French. Once you get a grip, I bet a ‘pint’ that you would read Tana French in the future- even if she writes about how to fold napkins.