three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
48-Sept-Oct-2010
By: 
Tana French
user_rating: 
0

A-Faithful Place.epsDublin novelist Tana French’s In the Woods (2007) won the Edgar and other prestigious awards. The Likeness (3.5 of 5 Stars Nov/Dec 2008) built on characters introduced in In the Woods, and her latest psychological thriller does the same.

The Story: In 1985, Frank Mackey (from The Likeness), then 19, was determined to leave his dysfunctional, abusive family and the hardscrabble life of inner-city Dublin forever. But on the night that he and his girlfriend, Rosie Daly, planned to elope to London and a better life, Rosie didn’t show. Heartbroken, Frank assumed that Rosie had jilted him, and he vowed never to return. More than 20 years later, Rosie’s suitcase is found in a neglected house on Faithful Place--evidence that Rosie may not have left after all. Frank, now an undercover cop, returns to his old haunts resolved, no matter the cost of delving into his painful past, to find out what happened.
Viking. 416 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 9780670021871

Cleveland Plain Dealer 4 of 5 Stars
"Like French’s earlier novels, Faithful Place is about how wounds heal, or cannot; the inescapable pull of history for a person and a place; and the sometimes fallible power of love. ... When you finally close the book on French’s elegiac last words, most readers will be hoping this is not the last we see of Frank Mackey." Laura DeMarco

Minneapolis Star Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"[A] gripping psychological thriller. ... As plot twists unfold, suspense heightens." Katherine Bailey

New York Times 4 of 5 Stars
Faithful Place is to inhabit fully a scrappy, shrewd, privately heartbroken middle-aged man. The second is to capture the Mackey family’s long-brewing resentments in a way that’s utterly realistic on many levels." Janet Maslin

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Although the story revolves around its sympathetic narrator, a tough-minded police officer who wised up years ago and made a clean break from the old neighborhood, the street he grew up on is the novel’s main character and the source of its raging vitality. ... For all the bizarre antics of the brawling Mackey clan, Faithful Place isn’t as eccentric as French’s previous novels." Marilyn Stasio

Oregonian 3 of 5 Stars
"The mystery--what happened to Rosie Daly back in 1985?--is not as compelling as the tragedy of a neighborhood that warps its residents to fit fated roles in a neighborhood full of rules. ... The book gathers emotional heft as we watch [Frank] hopscotch widening fault lines between families, social classes, and old and new Ireland." Kathy Hinson

Critical Summary

As in her previous crime novels, French explores love, loss, and the powerful sway of memory in modern-day Dublin. Critics diverged, however, on aspects of Faithful Place. A few thought it French’s best to date, with its deft portrayal of sibling rivalry, class conflicts, memories of romance and violence, and, not least of all, her sharp portrait of the "new Ireland." Others, however, commented that Faithful Place was more a psychological and emotional thriller than a detective story. But all praised the novel’s deep characterizations and unpredictable twists and turns--and look forward to French’s next offering. After all, notes the New York Times Book Review, "Tana French’s mysteries are like big old trees: the deeper their roots, the more luxurious the foliage they wave in your face."