Faithful Place: Humorous and Heartbreaking
Faithful Place is my introduction to best-selling author, Tana French, and boy -- she does not make a shabby first impression. This work was unlike a traditional gritty, murder mystery; rather, the best I can describe it is, it has... soft edges. Francis Maley, a forty-ish police detective with roots in Dublin, Ireland, comes back to his dysfunctional family and working-class neighborhood after leaving for England 22 years earlier.
The dead girl is his long-lost teenaged love, Rosie, who was supposed to meet him the night he left, so they could leave Faithful Place into a new life together with a fresh start. That night she never showed, and left what Francis thought was a Dear John letter. French does a wondrous job of taking me out of my reading chair and into the lives of Francis, his overbearing mother, his wife-beating, alcoholic father, big brother and rival, Shay, and little brother Kevin. I can recognize each character and his or her quirks -- the author rounds them out nicely. There's laugh-out-loud dialogue between the characters and tender, sad moments, when Francis reveals little bits of himself to us. We learn just how much losing Rosie affected his life decisions and relationships -- no one could live up to Rosie, not even his ex wife.
So as the reader goes with Francis on his journey to discover the truth behind the murder of his first love, they are delighted, tickled, shocked and horrified all in one story. There's a little something for everyone in Faithful Place, which makes it so special. After I read for the drama, love story, and crazy family dynamics, I can pass it to my husband, who will enjoy it for the mystery, humor, and a peep into what it's like to be a working-class Irish boy who gets out of the neighborhood, but it never quite gets out of him.