Faithful Place: A Place of Indifference
You know those times your channel surfing, and you come across an episode of Law & Order: SVU that you’ve already seen a handful of times. You already know which guest star will make an appearance after the next commercial break. You sort of remember the tension between Olivia and Elliot [which you no doubt LOVE]. And even though you can’t exactly remember how and why, you already know who is to blame for the especially heinous offenses.
During my reading of Faithful Place, I often found myself feeling rather indifferent about the words on the page. While I was reading, I was gently entertained. As I moved forward, page by page, I never felt bored, or like I should be spending my time doing something else. I would chuckle at an exchange between the main character, Frank, and his brother, Kevin. Or I would let my mind imagine the scenery as described, but I never felt truly engulfed by what I was reading.
In the same token, when I wasn’t reading the book, I never felt compelled to pick it up, either. Often times, when I am reading a novel or memoir, I can’t put it down. I carry it all around me, and try to sneak in a page or two between appointments. I wake up earlier than expect and reach over to my bedside table to get lost in the language and wrapped in the story. With Faithful Place, this wasn’t the case. Instead of thinking “I want to see what’s happening next!” I would sit myself down with the book in my hands because “I have to finish this book.”
French’s murder mystery became something on my to-do list. Just get it done for the sake of getting it done. Perhaps this had something to do with my expectations. I had heard rave reviews about French’s first book in the series, In the Woods, [apparently, though these books are intertwined, you don’t need to have read any of the previous novels to pick up a later one] and was excited to step into a genre I’ve only barely dipped my toe into. I was hoping that Faithful Place would show me the way to becoming a Mystery Literature fan.
Fairly early on in the novel, I made my prediction on who had done the crime. Never, in all my viewings of thriller movies, criminal television programing I’m consumed, and even through the few suspense novels I’ve read, have I ever been right on my first guess. Most often, I place well over a dozen guesses before being ultimately proven entirely wrong. But with Faithful Place, my initial guess never wavered. Imagine my lack-of-surprise when I was proven right, for once, and the mystery unraveled to prove my suspicions valid. Though the how was not at all what I expected, I was right about the murderer all along. [I hadn’t a clue of motives, circumstance, or how the murder took place in all of my guessing.]
If asked, I’d have to give Faithful Place three stars, a C+ or a vote of “fair.” Right smack dab in the middle, as many ways as possible. Maybe I’m being too harsh, simply because murder mysteries are not my typical read of choice. Or maybe I’m being too kind, as I clearly didn’t care much about what I was reading. What I know for sure is this: this novel didn’t manage to turn me off from French, all together. I still plan to read her well received first book from this series, In the Woods.