Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Julie's Review: Faithful Place

Summary: French's emotionally searing third novel of the Dublin murder squad (after The Likeness) shows the Irish author getting better with each book. In 1985, 19-year old Frank Mackey and his girlfriend, Rosie Daly, made secret plans to elope to England and start a new life together far away from their families, particularly the hard-drinking Mackey's. But when Rosie doesn't meet Frank the night they're meant to leave and he finds a note, Frank assumes she's left him behind. For 22 years, Frank, who becomes an undercover cop, stays away from Faithful Place, his childhood Dublin neighborhood. When his younger sister, Jackie, calls to tell him that someone found Rosie's suitcase hidden in an abandoned house, Frank reluctantly returns. Now everything he thought he knew is turned upside down: did Rosie really leave that night, or did someone stop her before she could? French, who briefly introduced Mackey in The Likeness, is adept at seamlessly blending suspenseful whodunit elements with Frank's familial demons. ~amazon.com

Review: Faithful Place is Tana French's 3rd book to take place in Dublin. This time the case is even more personal for her main character, Francis, aka Frank, Mackey. I don't think it is ever Ms. French's intention to make the guilty party hard to spot but she wants us to witness the protagonist figure it out and come to terms with it. It is about their journey and us going along for the ride. I have to say that I immediately liked Frank. He was honest and real. He didn't dish out crap and he surely didn't take it. Sure, he had faults but his drive for the truth wasn't one of them. Even though this case was extremely personal to Frank; I do think he tried to stay objective and a little out of the way if not all the way out.

I can't say that I blame him for staying away for 22 years. His family is seriously messed up. It's a wonder any of them turned out alright. Scars of living in that kind of family never fade and he's been smart never to introduce his daughter to his side of the family.

The story is extremely well-written and Ms. French has honed her skills by being more succinct. More words don't tell a better story, in fact sometimes it detracts from the story. The whodunit is in there but I enjoyed the flashback to Frank and Rosie's story of first love and escape. I, like Frank, wonder if they really would have made it or if they would have eventually gone their separate ways. One can only imagine. I think telling a story in flashbacks gives you an idea of how they became the adult they are today. It's also a fantastic way to make the victim a person instead of just a name and a case number. Rosie was as real to me as she was to Frank.

There isn't too much that I can say about the book without giving the story away and you guys know I don't like to or want to do that. If you like a taut story that will have you unraveling the mystery along the way then pick up a copy of Faithful Place, you won't be disappointed. I really enjoyed In the Woods(review here) but Faithful Place blows it out of the water.

You also don't have to read them in order to appreciate them. Apparently Frank is briefly in The Likeness but that case doesn't even come up in the novel. They are all set in Dublin and deal with the Guards (aka Police) but that's all they seem to have in common. As much as I'd like to see Frank again, I'm ok if I don't. The ending of the book was open ended but in a way that I thought was perfect for the story.

Tana French is on my "Writer's to Buy Immediately" list now. I can't wait to dive into The Likeness and revisit Cassie Maddox.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book.

Final Take:



Ty July 14, 2010 at 3:55 PM  

I have just found your blog. I so appreciate the eclectic nature of your reading selections. I've been looking for a site with wide-ranging selections/reviews. The majority of book blogs seem relatively narrow regarding genre. I'm glad I found you guys.

Stephanie July 15, 2010 at 8:49 PM  

Great review! Tana French ROCKS!!

Jenn July 17, 2010 at 8:12 AM  

Ty, we're glad you found us.

Jenn July 17, 2010 at 8:14 AM  

Stephanie & Julie, looks like an author I'll have to check out!

Sheila (Bookjourney) July 19, 2010 at 10:48 PM  

I am hearing good things about this one. I need to get a copy.

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