Faithful Place: And You Thought Your Family Had Problems

BlogHer Review

In researching Tana French, author of the thriller, Faithful Place, I learned she is an Irish author and actress of the theatre. After finishing the book, her third novel, her acting background becomes apparent, because French obviously loves the drama.

While murder mysteries are not the type of book I typically gravitate towards, I do find them intriguing and this one was no exception. French’s story grew and grew, with details coming from various places until it all fell into place in one, neat, little puzzle. Sort of.

The plot, characters and setting in Faithful Place are so far removed from anything I have ever experienced. The story is set in and around Dublin and flashes back and forth between the mid-1980s and today. Detective Frank Mackey thought he had overcome his unfortunate childhood and developed a successful life on his own. He made a good living, had a beautiful 9-year old daughter, and a semi-amicable relationship with his ex-wife, Olivia. He is far removed from his abusive, alcoholic father, poverty-stricken past, and troubled family. He is busy living his new life when he receives a phone call that stirs up memories of the past he worked very hard to overcome. When he finally thought he was nearing closure, he learns new details of his troubled past that would change his future forever. He is forced to return home to settle some unfinished business and has made it his mission to get justice for the deceased, no matter the cost.

French did an impressive job of setting up the story, giving the reader just enough information that you want to know more and developing the characters and plot so that there are a number of possible suspects and solutions. She writes very cautiously, each detail building and more dependent on the next. I read every word carefully, as not to miss a clue. I constantly expected the plot to change drastically at any moment, but French remained deliberate in every move, each flashback, and scene very meticulously placed.

If you are a Tana French fan, you may remember the character, Frank Mackey from a small role he played in French’s previous novel, The Likeness. She must have seen something in that character to write an entire book about his life. What I found most interesting in her latest novel was how well French depicted her male lead, despite being a woman herself. I found myself checking more than once, to make sure the author is, in fact female as the protagonist’s voice clearly belongs to amale. She is obviously an actress because she played the part well.

While it wasn’t the best book I have ever read, it does make me want to read more from French and her first two novels seem like a great place to start. I also anticipate reading her fourth novel, Broken Harbour, to be published next spring.

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