Book Review: Faithful Place

Faithful Place

Tana French

Viking Adult

416 pages

In all your life, only a few moments matter.  Mostly you never get a good look at them except in hindsight, long after they’ve zipped past you: the moment when you decided whether to talk to that girl, slow down on that bend, stop and find that condom.  I was lucky, I guess you could call it.  I got to see mine face to face, and recognise it for what it was. I got to feel the riptide pull of my life spinning around me, one winter night, while I waited in the dark at the top of Faithful Place.

pg 1

For those of you who read The Likeness, you will remember Frank Mackey as having a minor role.  He works in Dublin as an undercover investigator and takes the lead in Faithful Place after his high school sweetheart, if you will, has gone missing.

By the start of the book, Rosie has been missing for twenty two years.  She and Frank had been planning to run away together to England after growing up on the lower class factory street Faithful Place.  Both wanted to escape their dreary lives and they had been carrying on a secret love affair quite some time.  Frank has been forced to live with an abusive, alcoholic father, while Rosie feels stifled by the expectations on her to work in a factory for the rest of her life.

Frank and Rosie had agreed upon a meeting spot on a cold, December night, where Frank ended up waiting for Rosie until dawn, eventually fleeing on his own after he determines that Rosie has left for England without him.  For years he has held out hope that he will see her once again, and until that time he has stayed away from Faithful Place and his family. He has no choice but to return though after Rosie’s suitcase is found stuffed up a chimney in an abandoned house on Faithful Place, calling into question everyone’s assumption that Rosie had indeed escaped to England.

I loved the character of Frank Mackey.  He was so raw and realistic that even when I had trouble sympathizing with his actions, I could understand where he was coming from.  I think that as much as I have loved French’s other books, she has really outdone herself on character development this time around.  In fact, I don’t know that the “mystery” in Faithful Place was as engrossing as the storylines in her other two books, but it made no difference to me!  I could not put this book down.  I read it in two days, which, given my recent slump, is pretty extraordinary.

As an aside, I am so unbelievably horrible at determining “whodunit” before it is finally revealed by the author.  I actually love that about myself, because my naivete ensures that I will be surprised by the ending in every mystery.  So I was a bit disappointed that I had figured out who the perp was by the halfway point in this book.  It didn’t make the book any less engaging, but I wish it had been more of a shock.  Anyone else have that issue?

I love that French’s books are all linked to one another but that it is not necessary to read them in order.  You could certainly read this book first, second or third and I doubt it would make a difference.  I am anxious for her to publish a fourth book!

Other Reviews:

Lesley’s Book Nook

S Krishna’s Books

Linus’s Blanket

Steph & Tony Investigate

You’ve GOTTA Read This!

I purchase this book from Barnes & Noble.

6 Responses

  1. I really really need to read one of her books!

  2. That “whodunit” problem was my biggest peeve with the book — I loved French’s first two novels because of their wonderful blending of mystery and character study, but here I felt slighted that she gave up the mystery so quickly in favor of the character. I still liked it, but I hope she goes back to her previous mystery-to-character ratio in subsequent books!

  3. You know, now I don’t remember when I guessed who the killer was. This was my least favorite out of all the books, but Frank won me over in spite of myself. French’s psychological portraits are stellar.

  4. Yeah – this is my least favorite of French’s books so far, but there were aspects of it (the gritty, seedy underbelly of the small town) that I really enjoyed. She didn’t sugarcoat anything, but overall, I was underwhelmed.

  5. I tend to think that I am also a pretty naive reader – never guessed the killers in French’s other books – but I guessed the outcome of this one partway through as well. I agree with Nicole that this was my least favorite of French’s books, but it was still really good, because let’s be honest, French can do no wrong!

  6. Honestly, I don’t even try to guess whodunit. I’m wondering if that makes me a bad person or just someone who likes the surprise. 🙂

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