Faithful Place by Tana French
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.
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!