Faithful Place: Too Faithful Family

BlogHer Review

People snap the way they snap.

Tana French's Faithful Place is a mystery set in modern day Dublin -- mostly on a quiet little street by the same name. Faithful Place is a tired old development of 16 nearly identical row homes. Most of the occupants have lived there since they were born, like their parents before them. A few of the homes are occupied by much reviled "yuppies." And then there's dilapidated Number 16, unoccupied and in disrepair longer than anybody can remember, which has seen the misdeeds of countless teenagers over the years. Frank Mackey left in 1985, became a cop, and tried very hard to never look back.

That is, until the day they found the suitcase of the young lady he had meant to run away with behind a fireplace in old Number 16.

Family secrets, neighborhood gossip, and modern police work suddenly become very important. Frank thinks he has bigger problems: work, an ex-wife who has begun seriously dating, a 7 year old daughter who he loves and wants to protect. He's not prepared to be lured back into the old neighborhood, forced to face the parents and 4 siblings he left behind.

Simmering just under the surface of the plot is the fact that Frank's family is highly dysfunctional. Frank's father is a violent alcoholic, and as a result most of the family is to one degree or another codependent: they're negative and judgmental; they always want to be seen as right, or simply "better" than others; they use their charm to manipulate others; they push others away while desperately grasping for them; they go out of their way to "rescue" people who sometimes don't want or need it, only to feel a martyr when their unwanted efforts go unappreciated.

Those who have read my reviews before know that I am particularly harsh on endings -- plot holes must be filled, mysteries must be explained, loose threads must be tied or lead to an obvious sequel. I'm fully satisfied by Faithful Place. There's no obvious sequel here, although Frank could easily be the hero of an unrelated Dublin mystery without diminishing his role here.

Check it out. And if you relate too closely to any of the characters, please get help.