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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Faithful Place by Tana French

(Another December read)
  • I'm a fan of Tana French's first two novels and was eager to read her latest, Faithful Place.  Like the two previous novels, this one has a definite dark edge, but if the edge in the previous novels was a knife blade, the edge in this one is more like an ax.
As a teenager, Francis Mackey (Frank Mackey from The Likeness by French) planned to leave Faithful Place, a depressed neighborhood in Dublin, with his girlfriend Rosie Dailey and travel from Dublin to London, escaping their bleak, oppressive neighborhood, their dysfunctional families, and the general hopelessness of the times and the area.  Rosie, however, didn't show up for the meeting.

Francis was crushed on discovering a note that indicates Rosie went to London without him. Nevertheless, he made his own escape, if not from Dublin, at least from his family and his past.  He cut all ties with his alcoholic and abusive father, his unpleasant, weird mother, and his siblings until eventually he and his youngest sister develop a friendship

It is his sister Jackie who calls him one night twenty-two years later to tell him that a suitcase belonging to Rosie was found stuffed in the fireplace opening of a derelict house scheduled to be torn down.

Like it or not, Francis must return and try to untangle old relationships and discover what happened to Rosie.

Dysfunctional is an overused term that can mean so many different things.  The Mackey's qualify at the worst end of dysfunctional.  Given the extent of craziness in the household, it is almost a miracle that any of the children managed normal  lives.  Each of the children bear scars and suffer damage, but some more so than others.

I didn't like Faithful Place as much as the previous two novels.  It was much more brutal.  Not the description of the crime, but the family relationships, which were so twisted, so mired in anger and bitterness.

Despite the fact that this in not my favorite of French's 3 novels, French does a masterful job of communicating the warped family relationships, the sense of poverty, the substance abuse, the violence both verbal and physical, and the frustrations and sense of hopelessness of the Mackey family and many of  their neighbors.

Fiction. Mystery/ Crime. 2010.  400 pages.


    1. I want to read this one soon. I read the first book, but haven't continued with this author. Just too many others ahead of them. However, I'd like to read #2 and #3 because I did like IN THE WOODS so much.

    2. I read this too, and liked it the least of the three. While it was masterfully written, and maybe technically better than the others, I wasn't as interest in Frank. And you're right, the family stuff was well depicted but grim

    3. Kay - I really enjoyed The Likeness. Of the three, it remains my favorite. Maybe because Cassie is the protagonist...

      Nicole - My favorite is The Likeness, but I did like this one, even if it didn't resonate as well with me. It is odd, isn't it, that the focus is on Frank and yet he doesn't evoke as much interest, curiosity or concern.

      Actually, he was called "Frank" in The Likeness, but is "Francis" to his family. For me, it was almost as if Frank and Francis were two different characters. I found it hard to connect the detective Frank in The Likeness to the Frank/Francis in Faithful Place.

    4. Everyone has gushed about Tana French but I keep telling myself, "Nyeh, not a mystery fan." Still, I may have to give her a try, someday, just to see what all the excitement's about. Sounds like she's quite the craftsman.

    5. Interesting because I loved the first 2 but was not really that anxious to read this. Like Nicole, I am not that interested in Frank. He was in book 2 and I wasn't eager to know more about him. I think I will end up skipping this one and wait for her to write another. Thanks for the review

    6. Great review! I really loved her first two books and haven't had a chance to read this one yet but I know that Frank was not my favorite character from the second book. Then again, I might have been because I wanted Rob to show up more! I will read this one though because I have to know about Frank now. I'm curious if she's going to continue with the series?

    7. Nancy - Her mysteries are psychological ones that examine the characters and their relationships. I would recommend the first one, In the Woods, if you decide to give one a try.

      Bookmagic - Rob and Cassie each got a book, and I'd like to see more of either one of them in another one. I wasn't that interested in Frank, either, but because I liked the first two books, I was eager to read this one.

      Iliana - I'm all for Rob making another appearance. Hope she will return to Rob and/or Cassie!

    8. I read my first Tana Fench - The Likeness, this month and I have to say i enjoyed it immensely. i umm'ed and aah'ed over whether to pick up one of her other two, and i have to say that as this is her most recent it was my preferred of the two i was to read next. Now that I've read your review, I feel a little more cautious, and wonder whether I should just leave it at The Likeness!


    9. Aimee - Although I didn't like this one as well, it is certainly an interesting book. Maybe French is expanding her repertoire, feeling her writing muscles, experimenting with each book. My preference is for the eeriness of the the first two, but I like that she isn't staying in the box.

    10. I really enjoyed this, though it was very dark, but like you I think it comes in third in terms of my favorites. The Likeness is also my favorite!

    11. Danielle - I'm impressed with French's versatility, but loved the eeriness of her first two books! Also loved the suspense in the first two, which I didn't feel with this one.

    12. I loved In the Woods and still need to get to The Likeness. I haven't picked up a copy of this one yet but I probably well when I'm ready to read it.

    13. LF - I think you'll enjoy The Likeness!