All 8 Tana French Books in Order [Ultimate Guide]

Tana French Books in Order

If you are a mystery/procedural/crime thriller lover it’s no coincidence you are looking for a list of Tana French books in order.

Tana French is one of the most praised contemporary authors in the genre. Her Dublin Murder Squad series has been highly acclaimed by Vogue, People, New York Times, VOX, TIME, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, and more. It also has won multiple international awards. 

In this article, you will find more information about this series and how to read the Tana French books in order.

Who is Tana French?

Tana French was born in Burlington, Vermont but moved around a lot as a child due to her father’s job. She eventually settled in Dublin, Ireland, where she still lives with her family.

Before she became an author, she was an actress, having attended Trinity College Dublin for acting. While she didn’t start writing professionally until she was in her thirties, French has said that she used to write when she was younger. It was then during a lull between acting jobs, while French was working on an archeological dig, that French was inspired to write her debut novel, In the Woods, based on her surroundings.

It was a great success and has won many awards including an Edgar Allan Poe Award, a Macavity Award, the Barry Award, and the Anthony Award in 2008. It is the first book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, which composes most of French’s works.

Tana French Books In Order

The publication order for Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series is also the chronological order of the story, so it is best to read them in this order. However, this is not essential as each book follows a different detective solving a new crime.

Therefore, you can read them in whatever order you would like. It is recommended to read the books in publication order though so you can experience the world the way the author intended. As well, while the series focuses on a new detective in each novel, it will build upon the character development from the previous installments.

Despite this, many readers often suggest reading In The Woods and The Likeness later in the series as they are the most ground-breaking pieces. So it is up to you, but either way, we are sure that you are going to enjoy them.

Tana French Books in Order of Publication

 The Dublin Murder Squad

  1. In the Woods (2007)
  2. The Likeness (2008)
  3. Faithful Place (2010)
  4. Broken Harbor (2012)
  5. The Secret Place (2014)
  6. The Trespasser (2016)

Standalone Novels

  1. The Witch Elm (2018)
  2. The Searcher (2020)

Tana French’s Awards

2008

  • Edgar Award​. Best First Novel (In The Woods)
  • Anthony Award. ​ Best First Novel (In The Woods)
  • Macavity Award.​ Best First Mystery Novel (In The Woods)
  • Barry Awards​. Best First Novel (In The Woods)

2012

  • Irish Book Award. Best Crime Fiction Book (Broken Harbor)
  • Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Mystery/Thriller category (Broken Harbor)

2016

  • BGE Irish Book Award. Best Thriller of the Year in Ireland (The Trespasser)

Summary of Tana French Books in Order

Now that you know about all of the books Tana French has written, the awards she has won, and perhaps what order would be best for you to read her books in, let’s go through the summaries for each novel.

We’ve listed all eight of her books here in publication order, which will place her Dublin Murder Squad series first, before finishing the list with her two standalone novels.


In The Woods

It is the summer of 1984, and as darkness approaches a quiet Dublin neighborhood, mothers begin to call their children home. Three youngsters, however, do not return from the silent woods.

When the cops come, they discover just one of the kids. He is terrified, clutching a tree stump, wearing bloody sneakers, and unable to recall anything from the previous hours.

Twenty years have passed. Rob Ryan, the discovered youngster, is now a detective with the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his background hidden. When a girl is found dead in the same woods, he and his colleague and best friend, Detective Cassie Maddox, start investigating a case that is frighteningly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. 

Ryan now has the opportunity to unravel both the mystery of the case at hand and the mystery of his own dark background, with only bits of long-buried memories and glimpses of clues to guide him.

In the Woods is an incredibly believable and fascinating story, richly atmospheric and breathtaking in its depth.

“Ambitious and extraordinary first novel…rank it high.”

The Washington Post

The Likeness Tana French

The Likeness

Still traumatised by her brush with a psychopath, Detective Cassie Maddox transfers out of the Murder squad and starts a relationship with fellow detective Sam O’Neill. When he calls her to the scene of his new case, she discovers that the murdered girl could be her doppelgänger. What’s more, her ID shows she is Lexie Madison – the identity Cassie used, years ago, as an undercover detective.

With no leads, no suspects and no clues to Lexie’s real identity, Frank Mackey, Cassie’s old boss, persuades her to mimic the deceased lady in order to tempt the killer out of hiding to finish the job.

Cassie’s imitation of the murder victim grows increasingly consuming her as the inquiry progresses. She builds strong bonds with the four housemates of the murdered girl, all of whom are suspects in the crime. Then the line between Cassie’s actual and covert lives begins to blur.

“Required reading for anyone who appreciates tough, unflinching intelligence and ingenious plotting.”

The New York Times

Faithful Place Dublin Murder Squad

Faithful Place

Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was nineteen, growing up poor in Dublin’s inner city and living crammed into a small flat with his family on Faithful Place. But he had his sights set on a lot more. He and his girl, Rosie Daly, were all set to run away to London together, get married, get good jobs, break away from factory work and poverty and their old lives.

But on the winter night when they were supposed to leave, Rosie didn’t show. Frank took it for granted that she’d given him the brush-off. Probably because of his alcoholic father, nutcase mother, and generally dysfunctional family. He never went home again.

But neither did Rosie. Everyone thought she had gone to England on her own and was over there living a shiny new life. Then, twenty-two years later, Rosie’s suitcase shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, and Frank is going home whether he likes it or not.

Getting sucked in is a lot easier than getting out again. Frank finds himself straight back in the dark tangle of relationships he left behind.

The cops working the case want him out of the way, in case loyalty to his family and community makes him a liability. Faithful Place wants him out because he’s a detective now, and the Place has never liked cops. Frank just wants to find out what happened to Rosie Daly – and he’s willing to do whatever it takes, to himself or anyone else, to get the job done.

“An expertly rendered, gripping new novel”

Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Broken Harbor Dublin Murder Squad

Broken Harbor

The Dublin Murder Squad’s leader Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy takes up the narrative. He follows the rules and works hard, which is how the year’s largest case winds up in his hands.

Patrick Spain and his two young children were assassinated in one of Ireland’s half-abandoned “luxury” complexes. Jenny, his wife, is in critical condition. Scorcher believes it will be a simple case to solve at first, but too many small details remain unexplained: the half-dozen baby monitors pointing to holes smashed in the walls, the files deleted from the family’s computer, Jenny’s story about a shadowy intruder slipping past the house’s locks.

To make matters worse, Scorcher looks to be experiencing problems at home, as the case appears to have reawakened memories of their childhood in Broken Harbor in his sister Dina. Scorcher is caught between a rock and a hard place as she has a nervous breakdown and the pressure of the case. With everything around him collapsing, it looks like he will be fighting to hold it all together.

“Broken Harbor proves anew that Tana French is one of the most talented crime writers alive.”

The Washington Post

The Secret Place Tana French Books in Order

The Secret Place

A kid was murdered at a female boarding school a year ago, and the murderer was never found. Detective Stephen Moran had been waiting for an opportunity to be part of Dublin’s Murder Squad when Holly Mackey, sixteen, walks into his office with a picture of the murdered boy with the phrase “I know who killed him.” Now it is his chance to prove that he is up to the task.

Moran returns to the site with colleague Detective Antoinette Conway in tow, ready to reopen the case. As they get to the bottom of the matter, they immerse themselves in the hidden underworld of these schoolgirls, uncovering the truth behind the falsehoods found within their clique. 

Detective Frank Mackey, on the other hand, will go to any length to keep his daughter away from the unfolding events. Will they be able to solve the case by the deadline? Can kids tell the difference between fact and fiction? What will they do with the time they spent in ‘the secret place’?

“An absolutely mesmerizing read… Tana French is simply this: a truly great writer.” 

Gillian Flynn (bestselling author and journalist)

The Trespasser Dublin Murder Squad

The Trespasser

Being a member of the Murder Squad is not what Detective Antoinette Conway expected. Stephen Moran, her partner, is the only one who appears to be happy she’s there. Most parts of her work consists of thankless cases, cruel jokes, and harassment. Antoinette is a ruthless fighter, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.

Their current case appears to be another by-the-numbers lovers’ feud gone wrong. Aislinn Murray is blond, attractive, and perfectly groomed, and she’s dead in her picture-perfect living room, next to a lovely dining table. There’s nothing unusual about this girl, but Conway knows she has seen her before.

Other detectives from the Murder Squad are pressuring Antoinette and Steve to arrest Aislinn’s lover as soon as possible. At the end of Antoinette’s road, there is a mysterious figure lurking. Aislinn’s buddy implies that she was aware that Aislinn was in danger. And the more they learn about Aislinn, the further she becomes from the glossy, passive doll she appeared to be.

Antoinette is aware that the harassment has made her paranoid, but she is unsure how far she has gone. Is this case just another step in the effort to get her kicked from the squad, or do darker currents run under the glossy surface?

“A tour de force… When you read Ms. French—and she has become required reading for anyone who appreciates tough, unflinching intelligence and ingenious plotting—make only one assumption: All of your initial assumptions are wrong.”

Janet Maslin, The New York Times

The Witch Elm Tana French Reading Order

The Witch Elm

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who has avoided a scrape at work and is partying with pals when the night takes a turn for the worse. He surprises two burglars who beat him up and leave him for dead. 

He seeks shelter in his family’s ancestral house to care for his dying uncle Hugo, struggling to heal from his injuries and realizing that he may never be the same man again. When a skull is discovered in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden, Toby is forced to confront the possibility that his history is not as he has always assumed.

The Witch Elm is a captivating standalone from one of today’s finest thriller authors, and it examines what we become and what we’re capable of when we don’t know who we are.

“Extraordinary… Here’s a things-go-bad story Thomas Hardy could have written in his prime… The book is lifted by French’s nervy, almost obsessive prose… This is good work by a good writer. For the reader, what luck.”

Stephen King

The Searcher Tana French

The Searcher

Cal Hooper imagined a quiet retirement in a picturesque Irish town as the ideal getaway he needed. He just wants to start a new life in a nice area with a good pub where nothing much occurs after twenty-five years of service with the Chicago Police Department, and a rough divorce. 

But Cal finds layers of evil underlying his gorgeous getaway when a local youngster whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, and he begins to learn that even tiny villages hide terrible secrets.

“This hushed suspense tale about thwarted dreams of escape may be her best one yet…its own kind of masterpiece.” 

Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post

Looking for more mystery books in order?

Check out this list of Agatha Christie books in order.

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