Tana French's Masterful Character Development in Faithful Place

BlogHer Review

After only two pages, I knew Frank Mackey was a man with a story to tell and he was the type of man who would prefer to tell it in the dark, smoky and storied pubs of Dublin I dream of visiting one day.  If he deemed you worthy of hearing it at all.

Faithful Place, by Tana French, is an emotional book that had me hooked from the beginning.  Yes, it could easily be classified as a murder mystery/whodunit story, but it is really so much more.  It is an exploration of the relationships Frank Mackey has with his parents, siblings, daughter and his lost love.  One of the aspects that I loved about this book was how Tana French expertly develops Frank’s character from a rough and tumble undercover cop to a son desperate to escape his past and a father fighting to protect his daughter’s childhood innocence and future dreams.  The way that Tana shows us these aspects of Frank’s character makes the reader significantly more involved in the story as you want to cheer him on and cry for him at the same time.

The author frequently flits back and forth between the past and present, but has such mastery of storytelling that it does not feel awkward to suddenly find yourself 22 years in the past.  The interjection of the past serves to further engage the reader in the story and to provide details that bubble angrily to the surface as Frank continues on his quest to solve a long-cold murder along with a new and related murder.

My only criticism with the book would be in the use of Irish slang phrases with which I am unfamiliar.  The slang and occasional unusual spelling of words were probably intended to further develop the scene and location as the plot unfurled in the streets of Dublin.  But for me, it was distracting and interrupted the flow of my reading as I frequently had to stop and figure out what a phrase meant or process a new spelling that my eyes just wouldn’t flit over on the page.  About halfway through the book, I was used to it, but I can’t help but feel a little left out, like the new kid in town who doesn’t understand the inside jokes classmates are telling at recess, when I came across new slang phrases.

All in all, it was a quick and engaging read that I would happily recommend to any reader who enjoys a great murder mystery novel as well as the readers who love a book that delves into the relationships of heartbroken folks looking for a chance to heal.

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