June 24, 2010

Faithful Place

Faithful Place by Tana French
2010 Viking
Finished on 4/2/10
Rating: 5/5 (Outstanding!)
ARC - On sale July 13, 2010
FTC Disclosure: Received ARC from Kate Lloyd (Sr. Publicist, Viking/Penguin)

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 blind bend, stop and find that condom. I was lucky, I guess you could call it. I got to see one of mine face-to-face, and recognize 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.

Publisher's Blurb

The hotly anticipated third novel of the Dublin Murder Squad from the New York Times bestselling author.

Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was nineteen, growing up poor in Dublin's inner city and living crammed into a small flat with his family on Faithful Place. But he had his sights set on a lot more. He and Rosie Daly were all ready to run away to London together, get married, get good jobs, break away from factory work and poverty and their old lives.

But on the winter night when they were supposed to leave, Rosie didn't show. Frank took it for granted that she'd dumped him—probably because of his alcoholic father, nutcase mother, and generally dysfunctional family. He never went home again.

Neither did Rosie. Everyone thought she had gone to England on her own and was over there living a shiny new life. Then, twenty-two years later, Rosie's suitcase shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, and Frank is going home whether he likes it or not.

Getting sucked in is a lot easier than getting out again. Frank finds himself straight back in the dark tangle of relationships he left behind. The cops working the case want him out of the way, in case loyalty to his family and community make him a liability. Faithful Place wants him out because he's a detective now, and the Place has never liked cops. Frank just wants to find out what happened to Rosie Daly—and he's willing to do whatever it takes, to himself or anyone else, to get the job done.

Whooweee! I really enjoyed In the Woods. And I loved The Likeness. But, Faithful Place gets top honors as my all-time favorite of Tana French's mysteries. While the previous two are also set in Dublin, I felt they could have taken place pretty much anywhere. However, with Faithful Place, French takes her readers deep into the grittiness of Dublin's tenement neighborhoods. The dialogue and characters are rich and authentic, reminding me a little bit of Frank McCourt's childhood in Angela's Ashes. The pacing is even and taut, holding my attention late into the night. I could have easily devoured this book in a few short days, but I wanted to make it last as long as possible, so I stretched it out to almost two full weeks. As soon as I finished, I wanted to start all over again. But other ARCs were vying for my attention, so I'll save it for another time. I am tempted to go back and re-read The Likeness, just to re-visit Frank's character from this new perspective. Maybe I'll listen to all three on audio, as I await French's fourth installment. There will be another, right?!

I loved Frank's colorfully idiomatic language and slang: "arse," "eejit," "Fair play to you," "No one gives a toss," "Jaysus," "You're grand," "Ah, cop on, will you[...]she'll be mad into some girl band," and "feckin." It was great to hear authentic Dublin in every sentence.

I love how Frank cares so much about his daughter and the crazy world she's growing up in:

"This is not trivial shit, Jackie. I want Holly to be aware that there is a difference between truth and meaningless gibberish bullshit. She's completely surrounded, from every angle, by people telling her that reality is one hundred percent subjective: if you really believe you're a star then you deserve a record contract whether or not you can sing for shit, and if you really believe in weapons of mass destruction then it doesn't actually matter whether they exist or not, and fame is the be-all and end-all because you don't exist unless enough people are paying attention to you. I want my daughter to learn that not everything in this world is determined by how often she hears it or how much she wants it to be true or how many other people are looking. Somewhere in there, for a thing to count as real, there has got to be some actual bloody reality. God knows she's not going to learn that anywhere else. So I'm going to have to teach her all by myself. If she occasionally gets a little stroppy along the way, so be it."

Frank on the Murder Squad:

For the first time in my career, I was getting an inkling of why Murder love their job the way they do. When undercovers go hunting, we'll take anything that wanders into our snares; half the skill is knowing what to use as bait, what to toss back where it came from and what to knock on the head and bring home. This was a whole different thing. These boys were the specialists called in to track down a rogue predator, and they focused on him like they were focusing on a lover. Anything else that wandered into their sights, while they were trawling the dark for that one shape, meant sweet fuck-all. This was specific and it was intimate, and it was powerful stuff: me and that one man, somewhere out there, listening hard for each other to put a foot wrong. That evening in the Very Sad Cafe, it felt like the most intimate connection I had.

Frank on his Rosie:

The lights had changed to a deep underwater haze and behind me a girl started singing, low and throaty and strong. In the slow spinning beams of green and gold Rosie looked like a mermaid, like a mirage made out of color and light; for a second I wanted to grab her and crush her right against me, before she could vanish between my hands. She took my breath away. We were still at the age when girls are years older than guys, and the guys grow up by doing their best when the girls need them to. I had known since I was a tiny kid that I wanted something more than what the teachers told us we were meant for, factories and dole queues, but it had never hit me that I might actually be able to go out and build that something more with my own hands. I had known for years that my family was fucked up beyond repair, and that every time I gritted my teeth and walked into that flat another little piece of my mind got strafed to rubble; but it had never once occurred to me, no matter how deep the crazy piled up, that I could walk away. I only saw it when Rosie needed me to catch up with her.

Final thoughts: This is such a great story! French is a marvelous storyteller and is well-deserving of the numerous awards bestowed upon her for In the Woods (the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and the Barry awards for Best First Novel). I was completely transported, right along with Frank Mackey, to Dublin's Faithful Place. It's been over two months since I closed the book, but French's memorable characters remain just as vivid as the day I met them. Kudos, Ms. French. You're three for three!


  1. Anonymous7:28 PM

    I'm so glad that you liked this book so much. I feel like I want to go back and reread IN THE WOODS and then move on to THE LIKENESS and then FAITHFUL PLACE. Maybe later this summer.

  2. I've got one of French's books in my TBR pile. Do you think it's necessary to read them in order?

  3. This sounds so good!! Hope I can wait until July 13...

  4. I know exactly what you mean by purposefully slowing down the reading process to make the book last longer! I can't wait to read this one. I am pre-ordering it today.

  5. Oh my!! Outstanding 5/5!!! I must get her other two books off of my shelf and get it into gear and read them!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Anonymous12:35 PM

    Shame shame shame for making me so jealous :)

    I am actually reading The Likeness at the moment and I am loving it even better than In the Woods. Can't wait for this one!!

  7. Anonymous2:30 PM

    Woo Hoo! Can't wait to start hand selling this one.


  8. Well, since I loved all of her other books, this one is pretty much a no-brainer for me!

  9. Les, I need to get with the program and start reading this author. Glad to see how much you enjoyed this one....great review.

  10. One question: is the ending ambiguous, up in the air, left for the reader to figure out? Like In the Woods? Dont' like that in a mystery...in a Japanese novel? Yes. In a 'who-dunnit?' Not so much.

  11. I have become a huge Tana French fan and cannot wait to get my greedy hands on this one!

  12. Kay - Her books are certainly worthy of re-reading, aren't they? Since I rarely make time to do that, maybe I'll go back and listen to them on audio when I'm feeling like a re-read. I wonder who reads them?

    Kathy - You know, I don't think it's absolutely necessary. They really aren't a series. One or two characters overlap in each story, but it's not like anything from the previous book is revealed (in detail) in the subsequent book. So, no, I don't think it's necessary. Enjoy!

    JoAnn - It'll be here before you know it! You're in for such a treat.

    Kate - Yay! You're going to love it. I wish I had time to read it again.

    Staci - Yes, you really do need to. These are wonderful, wonderful books.

    Reviewsbylola - Sorry! ;) I enjoyed The Likeness better than In the Woods, too. I think her books get progressively better, but even the first was a wonderful read. Hope you enjoy this new one as well.

    Jen - I know! I wonder if we can make it our in-store push book?

    Pam - Yep. And it's the perfect summer read. I almost wish I had it to read for the first time while jetting out to CA or VA next month.

    Diane - I think it'd be fun to read all three back-to-back. Yes, get with the program!

    Bellezza - No, the ending was not at all ambiguous. I know In the Woods left a lot of people wondering about that subplot, but the details of the crime in Faithful Place (and The Likeness) are pretty well defined at the end of the book. Go for it!

    Christina - I'm a huge fan, too. It's been a while since I've had an author that I enjoy so well that I'd buy her new release in hardcover. Lucky for me, I got an ARC for this one. Enjoy!

  13. I'm thrilled to see you have been thrilled with Faithful Place. :) I plan to read The Likeness within the next two months. I'm hoping I like it as much as you did.

  14. Okay, you've convinced me. I wasn't in love with In the Woods (although I liked it mostly, I didn't appreciate the ending)...and I have The Likeness in my stacks which I really need to read. But, it sounds like French is getting better with every book...so her new one will be on my wish list :) Thanks for the review, Les!

  15. I cannot wait to get this book.

  16. Haven't read any of French's stuff yet. Ugg! So behind!

  17. I'm really looking forward to this one. I loved the first two books and I have to admit I didn't like Frank much as a character but I just can't wait to see how the story will develop. And, I gotta know, do the main characters from the other books show up much in this one? I still feel like so much was left up in the air with Rob, especially.

    Anyway, thank you for the review!

  18. Oh my goodness I've fallen behind in this series. I just finally bought The Likeness last week. Good to see you give this one such a high rating. Makes me want to get busy and get The Likeness read so I can get to this one.

  19. Joy - I have a feeling you'll enjoy The Likeness and Faithful Place!

    Wendy - I know a lot of people were disappointed with the loose ends at the end of In the Woods, but I think you'll be happier with The Likeness. Yes, French is getting better and better with each novel. Not that I thought she needed to improve, mind you.

    Katya - Only one more week to wait! :)

    Andi - You may be behind, but see what you have to look forward to? Lucky you!

    Iliana - I didn't care much for Frank in The Likeness either! But this really is his story and it didn't take long at all to warm up to him. Sorry, but no. Rob doesn't make an appearance in this one. My memory is terrible, but I'm almost 100% positive that Cassie doesn't either.

    SuziQ - I think this is a series I'd like to own and re-read later on down the road. There's so much detail and information I'd like to revisit since I'm sure I missed a lot during my first reading. I hope she's working on #4!


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