Tana French didn’t always plan on becoming one of the most beloved contemporary mystery writers. In between auditions for acting work in college, she started tinkering with what would eventually become her first novel, In the Woods. Inspired by her love of detective and crime fiction, the novel went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed and bestselling thrillers of the year. Since then, French has published five more novels about the same squad of detectives. Their popularity has earned her the moniker “the First Lady of Irish Crime.” In honor of her latest release (her first outside of the Dublin Murder Squad), discover the best Tana French books for your particular taste.
If you love complicated female protagonists…
In the Woods
Can’t get enough of Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect or Gillian Anderson’s Stella Gibson in The Fall? You’ll want to head straight for Tana French’s Cassie Maddox. Like all great detectives, Maddox’s past is inextricably linked to why she became a cop, and her relationship with her partner Rob Ryan only complicates things.
If you love twisty narratives...
French said she loved Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and was inspired by it in writing her second book in the Murder Squad series focused on Cassie Maddox. The Likeness, with all its doubles, will appeal to fans of Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train. In this book Maddox’s victim so resembles her physically that she goes undercover, impersonating her to solve her murder.
If you love characters with pasts that haunt...
In the third book of the Dublin Murder Squad series, French veers away from Maddox to focus a male detective on the squad, Frank Mackey. Twenty two years ago, Frank’s girlfriend Rosy vanished into thin air when they were supposed to be running away together. Then her suitcase shows up, and Frank’s assigned the case. His return home to his past echoes Camille’s mission in Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects.
If you love crimes ripped from the headlines...
Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy might be the hotshot of the murder squad but, boy, does he have his work cut out for him with the murder of a man and his two children. The wife is in the hospital talking about an intruder but something just doesn’t add up. If true crime is your jam—in particular the twisting and turning seemingly unsolvable kind like The Staircase—then you’ll love Broken Harbor.
If you love boarding school mysteries...
The Secret Place
What’s a boy’s dead body doing in an all-girls boarding school? Sixteen-year-old Holly (daughter of Detective Mackey from Faithful Place) claims to know who killed him. This novel introduces Detective Antoinette Conway, working with partner Stephen Moran. If the secrets of teenage girls at the focus of the work of Megan Abbott bring joy (or dread!) to your heart, The Secret Place has much to offer.
If you love the intensity of Nordic noir...
The under-appreciated Detective Conway and Moran are together again, taking on a case that first looks like your typical lovers’ quarrel gone wrong. A young woman found murdered and the powers that be say the boyfriend did it, case closed. But Conway knows better. Lisbeth Salander fans, who love a woman who doesn’t back down no matter what, will find much to love in Antoinette Conway.
Related: 10 Thrilling Nordic Noir Novels
If you love mysteries with a hint of the paranormal...
The Witch Elm
French’s newest novel, and first outside the Dublin Murder Squad series, The Witch Elm is arriving just in time for Halloween. Toby stumbles upon two burglars coming home late one night who beat him nearly to death. In order to heal, he returns to his family’s old manse to look after himself and his dying uncle. But when a skull turns up in an old elm tree, raising ghosts from the past, Toby begins to question his Irish luck. If the shock ending of Hereditary wasn’t a shock to you, The Witch Elm might just be your new favorite book.
Featured photo of Tana French: Alchetron