Book Quote:

“The rules in my road went like this: no matter how skint you are, if you go to the pub then you stand your round; if your mate gets into a fight, you stick around to drag him off as soon as you see blood, so no one loses face; you leave the heroin to them down in the flats; even if you’re an anarchist punk rocker this month, you go to mass on Sunday; and no matter what, you never, ever squeal on anyone.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (JUL 13, 2010)

The emotions in Tana French’s new book Faithful Place explode on the page and inside the reader. I felt tackled by this book. I started reading it and was grabbed and held down by a force-field hard to describe except that all my senses were caught up in the narrative. I had difficulty coming up for air though I knew it was necessary once in a while. I lived this book 24/7 until I had finished it. That’s Tana French for you.

The story begins with Frank Mackey, 19 years old, waiting for his true love, Rosie Daly, to meet him. They have plans to run away from their dysfunctional homes and neighborhood in Dublin to make a new life together in England. They are totally and fiercely in love as only first loves are. Rosie never shows up. Frank waits until morning and then proceeds alone, never knowing what happened to Rosie but thinking, deep down, that she’d changed her mind and not wanted to go with him. He doesn’t make it as far as England but he does manage to start a new life for himself in Dublin.

Ever since that time, Frank keeps hoping that he’ll hear from Rosie. No one in her family, nor any of her friends know where she is and no one has heard from her. Frank hears nary a word.

Faithful Place, the neighborhood he’s leaving, is close to Trinity College but is a world away. People in ‘The Place stank of stale nicotine and stale Guinness, with a saucy little top-note of gin.” People held grudges and if they were not on the dole, they worked at the Guiness plant or at odd jobs. Those who worked regularly had nothing to show for it. You knew everyone and heard conversations and arguments going on from windows and in the streets. People grew up together and had decades of knowledge about each other.

Fast-forward twenty-two years. Frank is an undercover detective with the Irish police force. He has been estranged from his family for twenty-two years, except for one sister, Jackie. Jackie gives him a frantic call that a suitcase was found in a derelict apartment building near his family’s home and it appears to have belonged to Rosie. Soon after the suitcase is found, so is Rosie’s body. From that time onward, Frank decides that he must find out what happened to Rosie that night.

Tana French has a wonderful way of juxtaposing the present culture of Dublin with arts, culture, and events of other cities and times. She gives the reader credit for being smart and understanding who she is talking about whether it’s Jim Morrissey, Tim Burton, Jeffrey Dahmer, Mario Lanza or Kojak. She’ll interject wonderful sentences into her writing. For instance, “The dim orange glow coming from nowhere in particular gave the garden a spiky Tim Burton look.” One of my favorites is, “ ‘Kojak’s on the trail’ Shay said, to the gold sky. ‘Who loves you baby?’”

The narrative goes back and forth in time and we’re privy to the horrific family of origin that Frank came from. His “da” is a raging alcoholic and his “ma” gives Olivia Soprano a run for her money. His siblings would just as soon stab one another with an ice pick than share a civil word. The dialogue is crisp and anguished. There is no doubt or subtlety about what is happening in the Mackey family.

When Frank returns to their midst after his twenty-two year absence, things are twisted up a bit. His da realizes that Frank must have an agenda and tells Frank to get the hell out of Dodge. Most people wouldn’t talk to their worst enemy the way that Frank’s father talks to him. This is a family filled and fueled by hatred. Frank, however, is there to stay. He has things to do and information to find out.

The book falls together perfectly. There are no weak spots and the the two primary narratives – the mystery about Rosie’s death and the story of Frank’s family – meld together well. Tana French is a wonder. She has the Irish gift of the gab and I advise you not to start this book unless you’re willing to be grabbed and held captive by its power.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 259 readers
PUBLISHER: Viking Adult (July 13, 2010)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
EXTRAS: Interview and Reading Guide
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Another popular 2010 read:


July 13, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Ireland, Mystery/Suspense, y Award Winning Author

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