Layers of Intrigue in Tana French's Faithful Place

BlogHer Review

Mystery, murder, love, intrigue, and dysfunctional families. Tana French's Faithful Place has them all. Frank Mackey, undercover detective from Dublin, has been long gone from his old neighborhood, Faithful Place, and essentially estranged from his family for years, when suddenly he is jolted back to the home of his youth -- a place he’d rather forget, it seems.

He gets word that the suitcase of his first love, Rosie, was found walled -- up in an old apartment building -- a suitcase she packed the night she was supposed to run away with him when they were eighteen, but she never showed and he never heard from her again. French uses two story lines and weaves them together masterfully -- Frank’s search for the truth of what happened to Rosie, and his realization and acceptance of the brokenness of his family who harbor dark secrets of their own. The layers of dysfunction run deep in Frank Mackey’s family. They are perpetrated by an abusive, alcoholic father, a mother who will protect her husband at all costs, and siblings who resent each other for many, many reasons. French contrasts the conflicts he feels about his family with Frank’s undercover search for Rosie -- we get the feeling to reconcile the hurt he felt the night she didn’t show up to run away with him, and to finally heal his “Rosie-shaped scar.”

The dialogue French uses in this novel is exquisite. You can hear the character’s talking in your mind in their Irish accents as you read, and it feels like you’re reading a movie script. You can see the old neighborhood and the dingy flats and the boring lives the residents now lead. You can picture it all, the sights and the sounds. You can feel the underlying tensions between Frank and his siblings when they interact with each other and you can almost see the emotions on their faces. French brings to life brilliantly each of the characters she writes about in Faithful Place. I haven’t read the other books in this series, but after reading this one, I can confidently say, they must be equally as fascinating and fantastic reads!

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