Can you remember, as a child, the excitement of discovering an author? Did you read all the books, one after another, until there were no more books and you wanted to write your favorite author urging her to hurry up and produce the next book? Recently I discovered the books of Tana French. Sure, I should be reading them with critical eyes so I can improve my own writing skills. However, French’s characters and stories drew me into worlds where total immersion was the only option for me.
French’s first book, In the Woods, was the most distant in setting and plot for me. The feudal aspects and the lynch mob mentality of the victims of a feudal overlord didn’t seem to belong to the 1960’s. However, I lived in America and not Ireland during that decade. My father’s family is Irish but that doesn’t make me an expert on Ireland.
Despite my reservations about the book, I was entranced by French’s writing and the way she developed her characters. Also, when I think about it, one of the most feudal-thinking characters I ever met was an American descended from Irish immigrants. Despite an Irish President, and numerous Irish doctors, lawyers, writers, and CEO’s, she couldn’t forget that Irish immigrants had been greeted in the US with signs, “No Irish Need Apply.” As a supervisor, she set out to make sure the people working under her paid for that long ago insult to her ancestors. Brits have long and often justifiably been criticized for their treatment of Ireland and the criticism will continue but sometimes problems start within.
French’s next books, The Likeness and Faithful Place, I believe demonstrate more the author’s ability to unravel character and create atmospheric settings. Even secondary characters are fascinating. There was nothing quirky about the characters. They just unfolded throughout the books as friends you gradually get to know. I also kept reading for a resolution to the crime in each book.
Now I have nearly finished French’s third book. How long do I have to wait for the fourth?
Do you have an author you must keep reading?