In grad school, people always contrasted plot-driven books with character-driven ones (the latter being better). Throughout, I argued that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. To be satisfying, a book needs both strong plot and interesting characters. Most times no one listened, but if I could convince them to read Tana French, perhaps they’d understand.

Her book follows most conventions of a police procedural but with a compelling protagonist and surprising supporting characters. The depth of her insight into her protagonist (Cassie, a burned out cop in Dublin who’s forced into going undercover to help solve a murder) is remarkable. In scene after scene I was astonished at all the facets of her character.

It’s one of those books that makes me think I’m wasting my time in this trade. Could I ever write that well?