Book Review: Faithful Place by Tana French
“I think you just have to figure it out as you go along. Sometimes you’ll feel like crying, sometimes you won’t, sometimes you’ll be raging at him for dying on you. You just have to remember that all of those are OK. So is whatever else your head comes up with.”
I loved the first two books in Tana French’s wonderful Dublin Murder Squad series, and I decided fall would be a good time to read the third, Faithful Place. We first met Detective Frank Mackey in The Likeness, as he was Cassie’s former undercover boss. Mackey has been estranged from his family for twenty-two years, ever since the night his girlfriend dumped him when they were supposed to run away to England together. But twenty-two years later, Frank gets a call from his youngest sister Jackie saying they found Rosie’s old suitcase in one of the abandoned apartments in Faithful Place. So Frank goes back to his old neighborhood and his dysfunctional family and is determined to figure out what happened to Rosie all those years ago.
Frank is not welcomed back with open arms from his family or neighborhood. When Frank and his younger brother Kevin go to check with Rosie’s family, the Dalys basically throw Frank out and want nothing to do with him. Mr. Daly hated Frank and forbade Rosie from seeing Frank; obviously that didn’t work out well, when they were supposed to run away together, but Frank understands the Dalys’ reluctance to see him and give him answers. Even his own parents and older brother are wary of “the prodigal son’s return”. And later on, when Rosie’s body is found, Faithful Place is full of whispers about how Frank might be the killer. But he will do whatever it takes to find out what happened to Rosie because now that he knows she didn’t dump him, everything for him has changed. But as he gets deeper into his own investigation, things only get worse for everyone involved.
Faithful Place was a classic Tana French read, but so very different from the first two at the same time. Frank Mackey grew up in a poor neighborhood with an alcoholic abusive father and a mother who blamed her kids for many of the fights. Because of this background, the dialogue was extremely different than that of In the Woods or The Likeness. I actually found myself looking up a lot of Irish slang, but I think that just adds to the brilliance of Tana French. She went from uber-intellectual, pretentious conversation among the main characters in The Likeness to everyday, working-class poor slang in Faithful Place. Her mysteries are always compelling and keep you guessing, but her writing style is what keeps me coming back to her books.
I also appreciated the fact that we got a glimpse of the protagonist, Detective Mick Kennedy, in the next book in the series, Broken Harbor. French is a master at weaving these characters into her stories and making the reader crave their own story. I’m also dying to know more about new Detective Stephen Moran, who is the protagonist in the fifth book in the series, The Secret Place. The side characters in Faithful Place were interesting and complex, everyone from Frank’s family to his ex-wife, Olivia, and daughter, Holly. I also really appreciated how great of a father Frank is to Holly; later on in the book, that comes into question a little bit, but no matter how grey Frank’s views are about his police work, he always wants to do the best for Holly. Which is especially noble, considering his own childhood.
This was another fantastic Tana French novel, and I cannot wait to continue the series. If you are looking for some great suspense novels, you cannot do better than Tana French. You don’t have to read the series in order; each novel stands alone on its own, but I do think it is cool to see the characters’ progression from side characters to main characters. I really enjoyed Faithful Place and give it 4 stars.
What is your favorite suspense novel?