Violence in Tana French's "Dublin Murder Squad" series?
September 21, 2018 8:50 AM   Subscribe

Thanks to the answers to my AskMe about sinister Bildungsromans, I read and devoured Tana French's The Likeness. SO GOOD! However, when I went to read the first book in the "Dublin Murder Squad" series, "In The Woods," I couldn't stomach the graphic violence to children, and couldn't finish the book. Are there other books in the series I would enjoy?

I LOVE Tana French now thanks to the kind MeFites who recommended her, especially how she blends detective writing with spooky/eerie mystery. What a great find!!

However, in In The Woods, I couldn't stomach the graphic depictions of the physical harm that Rob Ryan suffered as a kid, the condition of Katy's body, and the sexual abuse/violence to her body. Basically, harming-kid-plots, and/or graphic rape/sexual abuse.

Without detailed spoilers (general summaries are fine), could you clue me in on which subsequent books in the series might be ok for me to read and which ones I should skip? Although The Likeness had some violence, it felt delightfully spooky to me, rather than gruesome.
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Srry, 'cause I'm answering (not-answering) the other question instead of this one, but:

I never remember anything I read so I don't know why I'm saying this, but Alison Lurie instantly leapt into my mind as a sinister Bildungsromanista par excellence. She writes about academics a lot. There's one about a cult... ...called... ...ugh, dag it, I don't know what it's called, but if I find it on a shelf somewhere or in a pile, I'll report. So there's this cult, see, and then a popular anthropology prof from the local university and his crew of grad students take it on as a research challenge and infiltrate. But the-e-en...! (high jinks ensue.)

She's funny and very fun to read and does not tend toward violence, at least not as I recall.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:14 AM on September 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think you'll want to give Broken Harbor a miss. That one has pretty prominent kid-harming plot elements. I think I might also skip The Secret Place for the same reason, plus it has some sex abuse/harassment stuff. Faithful Place should be fine. The Trespasser I *think* will be ok, although there's a definite sexual harassment plot line in it.
posted by holborne at 9:31 AM on September 21, 2018

Honestly, none of Tana French's other books have that same creepy feel as The Likeness. I've read all of them (and I keep reading them) but her first two are far and away better than the others. Issues with child violence aside, you probably aren't missing much but not reading the rest of the series.
posted by something something at 9:55 AM on September 21, 2018

Read FAITHFUL PLACE and TRESPASSER. Do not read the (excellent but extraordinarily harrowing/violent/gruesome) BROKEN HARBOR.
posted by kapers at 10:02 AM on September 21, 2018

I agree with kapers and holborne as to which Murder Squad books you're likely to enjoy.

French's next book The Witch Elm is a stand alone that sounds like it may have a similar feel to The Likeness and, judging by this review, doesn't sound like it deals much with the themes you're worried about. I haven't read it yet though, so I can't say for sure.
posted by the primroses were over at 10:15 AM on September 21, 2018

Yes, definitely skip Broken Harbor. The Secret Place has violence against minors, but they're teenagers, not very young kids, if that makes a difference. Faithful Place doesn't have explicit child abuse, but physical and emotional abuse is definitely a big part of the main family dynamic in the story and I found it pretty draining. Trespasser doesn't have violence against children IIRC.
posted by sonmi at 12:06 PM on September 21, 2018

There's one about a cult... ...called... ...ugh, dag it, I don't know what it's called

Imaginary Friends. Maybe not quite what the OP was asking for, but an excellent novel and well worth reading.

On the subject of sinister Bildungsromans, I'd also recommend Barbara Vine's A Fatal Inversion.
posted by verstegan at 6:06 AM on September 22, 2018

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