Tana French

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Tana French
Born (1973-05-10) May 10, 1973 (age 49)
Burlington, Vermont, United States
Alma materTrinity College

Tana French, born 1973 in Burlington, Vermont, is an American-Irish writer and theatrical actress. She is a longtime resident of Dublin, Ireland.[1] Her debut novel In the Woods (2007), a psychological mystery, won the Edgar,[2] Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for best first novel. The Independent has referred to her as "the First Lady of Irish Crime".[3]

Personal life[edit]

Tana Elizabeth French was born on 10 May 1973 in Burlington, Vermont to Elena Hvostoff-Lombardi and David French.[1][4] Her father was an economist who worked on resource management for the developing world, and she lived in numerous countries as a child including Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi.[5]

French attended Trinity College Dublin, and trained in acting. She settled in Ireland and has lived in Dublin since 1990.[1] French and her husband have two daughters.[6]


French was enthralled by both acting and writing since her childhood but eventually focused more on acting. She grew up reading mystery and crime novels.[7] She trained as a professional actor at Trinity, and she works in theatre, film, and voiceover.[1]

In her later 30s, her passion for writing was rekindled. She began writing her debut novel in the months-long lulls between castings;[8] In the Woods was published in 2007 to international acclaim and received rave reviews from many publications. Publishers Weekly[9] praised French, saying she "expertly walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller in her debut" and that "Ryan and Maddox are empathetic and flawed heroes, whose partnership and friendship elevate the narrative beyond a gory tale of murdered children and repressed childhood trauma." It received several literary prizes, was a bestseller in hardcover and paperback, and has been termed a 'dream debut'. As of 2015[10] more than one million copies of In the Woods have been sold. Flavorwire, in 2014, included it in their 50 of the Greatest Debut Novels Since 1950.[11]

The second novel, The Likeness (2008), presents the story of the debut novel's co-lead, Cassie Maddox. It quickly achieved high positions on bestseller lists in various countries and stayed on The New York Times Best Seller list for several months.[12] In its reviews of the novel, Kirkus praised its mix of "police procedures, psychological thrills and gothic romance beautifully woven into one stunning story". In an interview with The Guardian,[7] French stated that Donna Tartt's The Secret History was a source of influence on The Likeness, opening up the "landscape of friendship as something worthy of exploration and something that could be powerful enough to trigger a murder."

The first six novels are part of the Dublin Murder Squad series.[13] After publishing The Trespasser in 2016, French published two standalone novels. Both The Witch Elm and The Searcher also take place in Ireland.[14][15]

No. Title Publisher Date ISBN
1In the WoodsViking Penguin30 January 2007ISBN 978-0-670-03860-2
This is the debut crime novel in the fictional Dublin Murder Squad series about the Irish detectives Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox and their investigation of the murder of a 12-year-old girl. The case, with possible links to Ryan's own past, adds another dimension to the novel. In 2008, it won the best debut crime novel category for the Edgar, Anthony, Barry and Macavity awards.
2The LikenessViking Penguin17 July 2008ISBN 978-0143115625
Dublin Murder Squad series #2 follows detective Cassie Maddox and the circumstances surrounding the death of Lexie Madison, a young woman who is her doppelganger. Frank Mackey, the senior police officer running Undercover operations, convinces Cassie to impersonate the dead woman and investigate her death. It was shortlisted for the first annual Ireland AM Crime Fiction Award in 2009.
3Faithful PlaceViking Penguin13 July 2010ISBN 978-0670021871
Dublin Murder Squad series #3 features detective Frank Mackey keen to unravel the mysterious disappearance of Rosie Daly. The book was nominated for the 2012 International Dublin Literary Award.
4Broken HarbourViking Penguin2 July 2012ISBN 978-0-670-02365-3
Dublin Murder Squad series #4 is about star detective Scorcher Kennedy investigating the vicious killing of a father and two children in a ghost estate outside Dublin. Scorcher's personal life is tugging for his attention and he has a rookie helping him out with the case. It won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller (2012).
5The Secret PlaceViking Penguin28 August 2014ISBN 978-0-670-02632-6
Dublin Murder Squad series #5 alternates between the points of view of detective Stephen Moran and student Holly Mackey. Stephen joins forces with the abrasive Detective Antoinette Conway to investigate the murder of handsome, popular Chris Harper, a student at St. Colm's School. The Washington Post named the book one of the five best thrillers of 2014.
6The TrespasserViking Penguin22 September 2016ISBN 978-1-444-75562-6
Dublin Murder Squad series #6 has Antoinette Conway teaming up with Stephen Moran to pull a case that at first looks like a slam-dunk lovers' tiff, but gradually they realise there's more going on.
7The Witch ElmViking Penguin9 October 2018ISBN 978-0-735-22462-9
Standalone novel. Recognised as a New York Times Notable Book of 2018, and an NPR Best Book of 2018.
8The SearcherViking Penguin6 October 2020ISBN 978-0-735-22465-0
Standalone novel.


Year Title Award Result Ref.
2007 In the Woods Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller Finalist [16][17]
2008 Edgar Award for Best First Novel Winner [2][18]
Anthony Award, Best First Novel Winner
Macavity Award, Best First Mystery Winner
Barry Award for Best First Novel Winner
2010 Faithful Place Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller Finalist [19]
2012 Broken Harbor Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller Winner [20][21][22]
Irish Book Award, Irish Crime Fiction Award Winner [23]
Faithful Place International Dublin Literary Award Nominee [24]


In 2015, Euston Films & Veritas acquired TV production rights. Sarah Phelps wrote the screenplay, which she based on both In the Woods and The Likeness, for the eight-episode series of Dublin Murders, commissioned by the BBC for BBC One and Starz, with RTÉ later joining the project. Filming commenced in 2018 in Belfast and Dublin[25] and continued in Dublin to late February 2019.[26][27][28] Broadcast began on BBC One on 14 October 2019, on RTÉ One on 16 October 2019, and on Starz on 10 November 2019.


  1. ^ a b c d Tana French Bio at Bookreporter.com. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  2. ^ a b Edgars Database. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  3. ^ "Review: Thriller: Broken Harbour by Tana French - Independent.ie". Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Vermont, Birth Records, 1909-2008". Ancestry.
  5. ^ Tana French Interview with Joe Hartlaub at Bookreporter.com. 11 July 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  6. ^ Tana French Interview at Bookreporter.com. 16 July 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  7. ^ a b Merritt, Stephanie (24 August 2014). "Tana French: 'I've always been interested in the intensity of friendship and the dangers that come with that'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  8. ^ "In Tana French's 'Broken Harbor,' the mundane sets stage for mayhem". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  9. ^ In the Woods. ISBN 0670038601.
  10. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (6 March 2015). "Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad Coming To TV Via Euston Films & Veritas". Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  11. ^ "50 of the Greatest Debut Novels Since 1950". 14 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Paperback Trade Fiction Books - Best Sellers - June 14, 2009 - The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  13. ^ "Dublin Murder Squad Books in order: How to read Tana French's Series?". How To Read Me. 28 January 2018. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  14. ^ "The Witch Elm". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  15. ^ "The Searcher". www.goodreads.com. Retrieved 23 June 2021.
  16. ^ "2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prize - Mystery/Thriller Winner and Nominees". Awards Archive. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  17. ^ 2007 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Winners. Archived 2013-04-24 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  18. ^ Joe Hartlaub. Review of In the Woods at Bookreporter.com. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  19. ^ "2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize - Mystery/Thriller Winner and Nominees". Awards Archive. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  20. ^ "Awards: Los Angeles Times; Chautauqua; Thomas Wolfe". Shelf Awareness. 22 April 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  21. ^ Werris, Wendy (22 April 2013). "L.A. Times Festival of Books Draws Tens of Thousands". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  22. ^ Staff writer (19 April 2013). "Announcing the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize winners". LA Times. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  23. ^ Rosita Boland (23 November 2012). "Banville wins novel of year at awards". The Irish Times. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  24. ^ "Three Irish novels among IMPAC nominees". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 7 November 2011. Retrieved 15 September 2022.
  25. ^ "Dublin Murders - Euston Films". eustonfilms.tv.
  26. ^ "Wave of murders to hit Dublin as BBC films new cop drama". Independent.ie.
  27. ^ "BBC - Killian Scott and Sarah Greene lead Dublin Murders - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk.
  28. ^ "Irish stars out to solve Dublin Murders in new series". 4 December 2018 – via www.rte.ie. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)

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