Detective Frank Mackey finds himself straight back in the dark tangle of relationships he left behind twenty-two years ago when the suitcase belonging to his first love, Rosie Daly, shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place. The hotly anticipated third novel of the Dublin murder squad.
Twenty years later, Frank, newly divorced, is a cop in the undercover unit. After that fateful night, he also never returned home, but suddenly he receives a phone call from his sister. A suitcase was found, in an abandoned house, behind the Mackey house and they think it belonged to Rosie.
This incident draws Frank, not only back into his broken family, but into a new investigation of Rosie’s disappearance, which is beginning to look like murder.
This is a well-written trip through a haunted and damaged past, exposing Frank to old wounds and new ones, bumping heads with his mean, alcoholic father and domineering mother. This is French’s third book and her most “Irish”. She can really transport the reader to a particular place and time. I’m looking forward to where she will take us next.
All three find a strong connection between occurrences of the past. Here, Frank Mackey's weekend with his 9-year-old daughter is interrupted by a phone call from his sister, insisting that he needs to come to his parents' home in Faithful Place right away. Frank is reluctant, not only because doesn't want to give up his time with Holly (and get grief from his ex-wife), but because he's been estranged from most of his immediate family for over 20 years.
When he finally does arrive at the house where he grew up, he learns that an old suitcase has been found hidden in a ramshackle house down the street, where they used to hang out as teens. The bag is eventually identified as having belonged to Frank's high school girlfriend, Rosie Daly, who disappeared 22 years earlier.
At that time, Rosie and Frank had made plans to run away to England together. When Rosie didn't turn up at the appointed place, Frank assumed he'd been dumped and headed to Dublin on his own, not returning until he receives Jackie's panicked call. On a whim, Frank searches the old house, and finds something buried in the basement, which turns out to be Rosie's body.
Knowing only that he didn't kill her himself, and that it was most likely someone from the Place, Frank sets out to determine who killed Rosie. He's hampered by the lead detective, who warns Frank to keep his distance because he's too involved in the case. Of course, Mackey keeps digging, and when the identity of the murder is revealed, it's a complete shock, though ultimately not a surprise.
This is the best of French's Dublin novels yet. She has a real talent for creating a believable first-person protagonist, whatever the gender. Highly recommended!
Francis (“Frank”) Mackey is a 41-year old divorced undercover detective in Dublin with partial custody he shares with his ex-wife Olivia of precocious nine-year-old Holly. Twenty-two years before, at age 19, he was all set to run off to England with the love of his life, the beautiful Rosy Daly, but Rosy didn't show up. Frank never really got over it, and he never went back home.
Now his sister Jackie has called him and told him that some renovators of an abandoned tenement on his old street found Rosy’s suitcase, complete with the ferry tickets to England and her birth certificate. Frank cannot avoid making that painful trip back to his childhood home and back to the past in order to find out what happened.
Frank’s not much welcome at first; to the crowded and hard-up tenants of his street - Faithful Place, cops are anathema. And some murders that are discovered after Frank reappears put him under suspicion as well. But if Frank is ever to let go of Rosy in his mind and his heart, he has to know what transpired twenty-two years before. As Frank knew, and even his ex-wife knew, “all the time I was married to Olivia and pretending to belong in Dalkey, I was waiting for Rosie Daly to walk through every door.”
Discussion: The characters of this book are superbly rendered, and in such thick and colorful Dublin dialect you may need an online dictionary of Irish slang to find out what everyone is saying.
The range and depth of the portrayals is remarkable. There are enough simmering passions in this story to set off a volcano, and the raw sorrow that sits like open sores on the characters don’t heal in your own heart once you’ve closed the book. I’ve been talking to my husband about Frank and his brothers like I’ve known them all my life, and I feel that I have!
Frank loved Rosy something fierce, and allows he would have died for her, “back in the day.” He admits, “I had spent my whole adult life growing around a scar shaped like Rosie Daly’s absence.”
Much of the story is about the crazy stew in Frank’s life of poverty and a dysfunctional family and a lack of hope and Rosie: Rosie with her bright copper hair and dazzling smile erased all the ugly parts of Frank’s life. She provided the drop of magic “that stopped you being just another futureless dole bunny moping in his bedsit.” But the magic came to an abrupt end on that night back in December, 1985.
To some extent the role that Rosie played in Frank’s life is now filled by his daughter Holly. She brings him serenity and love and worry and a heart-rending concern over child-rearing that is touching and inspiring. And Frank would die for Holly now, just as he would have died for Rosie, back when she was the one who took his breath away.
The repercussions of the biting, acrid family dynamics of the families on Faithful Place are shown by the depiction of the pain-filled lives of those who got caught in its lethal embrace. I loved that French really made me see all sides of what happened to the people there, including the murderer, so that I actually felt sorry for the murderer even as I felt devastated by the murders. Can there be healing or forgiveness for any of these people? The book ends on a note of hope for some, but not for all. It is truly a stunning story. And if you really want to know how boundless is the grief of what happened, go back and read the prologue after you have finished the last chapter; the knowledge you have gained makes some of those details back in the beginning pierce you like fresh wounds to an already tattered soul.
In 1985 Frank and his girlfriend plan on running away together to build a new life away from their families. On the night they were to meet however, Rosie doesn’t show and Frank spends the next twenty years believing that she dumped him and left on her own. Frank never went home again, instead built himself a new life as a undercover cop as far from his dysfunctional family as he could get. Then he receives a phone call from his sister telling him that Rosie’s suitcase has been found stashed in a fireplace in a derelict house on their street. Suddenly Frank finds himself going home, facing his family and his past.
Although I figured out who the murderer was very quickly, I was still spellbound by this story. French’s writing, especially her dialogue is very real, sharp and observant. At times downright funny and at others hurtful as only family members can be to each other. Frank MacKey is a brilliant character, tough, strong, sarcastic yet also vulnerable, damaged and downright romantic. Faithful Place is so much more that a murder mystery, it a very “Irish” book with it’s unclouded, gritty look at the working class and their struggle for identity and purpose. It is also a personal drama with it’s close look at the lasting damage family can inflict upon each other.
Frank is drawn back into some really bad family dynamics when the suitcase of a girl who disappeared years before is found. The big, messy Irish family is not very nice – mean to one another, memories of an abusive father and an unloving mother.
Now, I like stories of family, and they don't have to all be likable. But this story failed to engage me. I didn't care about the characters or the plot, and the writing was run of the mill.
I enjoyed the first in this series, In the Woods. I had trouble suspending some of my disbelief in the second one, The Likeness, but I enjoyed it anyway. This third one I just wanted to finish and be done with it.
Faithful Place tells the story of Frank Mackey, the middle son in a poor Dublin family of five children who is forced by circumstances to return to the home and family he hasn’t visited in more than two decades. Frank is a police detective. He quickly finds himself caught up in an investigation into the murder of Rosie Daly, the 19-year-old neighbor he was scheduled to elope with to England but who disappeared the night of their planned departure. The investigation, and Frank’s interaction with his parents and siblings, bring to light all over again the profound ugliness of the environment in which he grew up.
Faithful Place is Tana French’s third novel. Her first, In the Woods, won an instant following and several literary awards. The second, The Likeness, suffered from an overly great resemblance to In the Woods. With this third effort, the 37-year-old Irish actress has put all the pieces together. Faithful Place works on every level: as a suspenseful detective novel, as a psychological study of a horribly dysfunctional family, as a portrait of class relations in contemporary Ireland, and as an excursion into working-class Irish dialect.
I don’t know what it is, but it seems that every contemporary novel I read lately that’s set in Ireland portrays its working class or working poor as a bunch of blinkered assholes. Is it an axe to grind or really this way? Seriously, wanting to have a better life than the desperate, disease-ridden, gutter-scraping one your parents had is a crime? WTF? In what universe? So bizarre. Better that everyone stay ignorant and backward forever and ever than try to walk on two legs. It’s weird and I don’t blame Frank for staying as far away as humanly possible from Faithful Place. I wanted to burn it to the ground. So drenched in misery that you could practically take a bite out of, The Place is practically a character in its own right. I felt almost as stifled and diminished as Frank must have when he lived there. It’s no wonder he and Rosie were so anxious to get out.
The back story of their relationship was very well drawn, but I still don’t quite know what made Frank become a cop. I guess the drifting from bad situation to worse became too miserable for even him and the self-indulgent wallowing in self-pity not working out for the best. His dealings with Scorcher and the rest of the murder squad was interesting although I kept waiting for Cassie to show up. I have a feeling the next book will be about Scorcher since he was just about the only character you could branch off from at this point. The rest were basically family and none of them cops.
And that family. Jeez. What a pack of ghouls. Mom the soul-destroying harpy. Dad the fist-happy souse. Older brother the menacing half-wit (oh and was it me, or did the narrator make him sound like an Irish John Wayne??). Sisters of the desperately seeking a life other than mum’s but probably not going to make it club. Younger brother the kicked puppy. Holy shit.
Although the story itself pulled me through the novel and was fairly compelling, I don’t think this is up to par with the first two because it was simplistic. Everything in the end is explained and tied up neatly. I know a lot of people complained about In the Woods having loose ends, but I like it when I’m not handed everything on a plate. I like it when I have to use my imagination and intuition to fill in blanks. My brain does work and well, thanks very much. I was relishing some tasty, little nugget of the unexplained, but alas, got a cute little package all wrapped up with a bow. How dull.
For twenty-two years, that is, until his sister calls him to tell him that Rosie's suitcase, packed and ready to go to England, has been discovered behind a fireplace being torn out in another building at Faithful Place. Unable to stay away from the hurt that has haunted him for over twenty years, through a broken marriage, Frank returns, against all better judgement, to Faithful Place, and immediately finds himself sucked into the vortex of place and people of his past. In short order, he has discovered Rosie's body in the abandoned building, the victim of apparant homicide. The detective in Frank is immediately awakaned, and he cannot let this rest until he knows what happened to his first love.
Frank is not what you would call a loveable character, but many of the great detectives from fiction weren't, either. This is no Hercule Poiroit with his "little grey cells." He doesn't exactly give you the warm fuzzies. He's got a tart (and often very amusing) tongue on him, and he's very single-minded of purpose. He's not above using people to get what he wants; he reminds me of a hardboiled detective from 1950s American detective fiction, with an extra helping of emotional distress. We're not supposed to cozy up to him, but we do feel sympathy for what he came from, his current situation (devotion to the job as the only thing he's got going, attachment to the daughter he sees once a week, a broken marriage), and his desparate search for answers to a very cold case. His outsider status is painful to witness; he's been a prodigal son from the Place for far to long to receive a warm welcome back, his family isn't exactly the type to welcome him back with open arms, and he is above all a cop and therefore the ultimate outsider in this part of town.
Admittedly, the suspect pool isn't huge in the novel, and while there's plenty of suspense and drama to keep you turning pages, it isn't a terrible shock to discover whodunit. The ins and outs of how you get to that final conclusion are fairly tricky and are intricately wrapped up in the fabric of the Place and its own moral code and its people. Indeed, the Place itself is fairly alive as a vital force in the novel, its own swirling vortex of morals, expectations, character-shapings, and loyalties. The subplot of Frank's daughter getting drawn into the Place reveals what a strong force the Place is, quite independent of whether you grew up in it or not.
Faithful Place perhaps ends on a note of hope, but it is overall a fairly bleak novel. Don't go into this one expecting to be uplifted. You can expect more resolution than you have seen in some of French's past work. Expect realistic dialogue and gritty portrayals of everyday life, sparing no delicate sensibilities. Don't expect a detective you can cozy up with but do expect to feel some sympathy for him. Expect a strong supporting cast and a great number of supporting characters. And-- above all-- don't expect to know where French is going from here, but look forward to finding out.
Frank Mackey (who was introduced in The Likeness) is an undercover cop who doesn’t always play by the rules and cut ties with his family when he left home more than two decades ago. In the prologue, we’re with 19-year-old Frank as he waits for his love, Rosie Daly, to meet him in the wee hours of the morning on their street called Faithful Place. They plan to run away to England and make a new life for themselves—far away from their dysfunctional families and the spiral of poverty and “small” lives that tend to entrap residents of the Place. But Rosie never shows, and Frank has always believed that she left without him. Now, 22 years later, Rosie’s suitcase (along with her ferry tickets to England) show up in an abandoned house on Faithful Place. When his sister Jackie tells Frank the news, he reluctantly returns home. The discovery of the suitcase shakes the foundations of Frank’s entire life: What if Rosie didn’t leave him behind? What if she never left at all? This time, Frank won’t be able to escape Faithful Place as long-buried secrets begin to surface and bind Frank to the place he fought to escape his whole life.
WHO do we meet?
Frank Mackey, the narrator of the book. The foundation of Frank’s entire life is shifting under him as he’s forced to confront the past and the way of life he hoped to leave behind forever. His pain and discomfort at having to face his family again is agonizing, and he must call on all of his skills as an undercover cop to figure out what happened to Rosie all those years ago.
The members of the Mackey family that Frank left behind, including: his sister Jackie, the only family member that Frank has stayed in touch with; Shay, the oldest brother who harbors resentment that his younger siblings got a better life while he and the eldest sister Carmel bore the brunt of their parent’s cruelty; and Kevin, the youngest brother, who has lived a sheltered existence thanks to the protection of his older siblings. The matriarch of the family, Ma, is viewed by her children as a nag and a manipulator, but she’s put up for years with her abusive, alcoholic, chronically unemployed husband, Da.
Frank’s 9-year-old daughter Holly, who is growing up faster than Frank would like and, despite Frank’s best efforts, seems to have some Mackey blood in her.
Olivia, Frank’s ex-wife, who always sensed Frank was waiting for “the one who got away” but tried to love him anyway. Their shared love and concern for Holly keep them tied to each other, despite Olivia having a few secrets of her own.
WHEN and WHERE does the book take place?
The events of the book take place in 2007, primarily in Frank’s old neighborhood in Dublin called The Liberties, which Frank describes like this.
The Liberties got their name, hundreds of years ago, because they went their own way and made their own rules. 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.
Frank also flashes back to the past, primarily 1985 when he and Rosie were together and making their plans for escape.
WHY should you read this book?
Tana French is a master of weaving complex, psychologically suspenseful stories that put you fully into the mind and environment of the narrator. Considering that French always gives her protagonists a complex mystery to solve, tensions always run high and I’ve read all her books with a feeling of doom and dread hanging over me. Yet I always find something to love about her characters and some sort of humor. In this book, I found Frank—despite his often morally dubious methods—to be a stand-up guy. In some ways, he reminded me Mikael Blomquist in the Steig Larrson books. In addition, the charm of the Irish way of talking and the vivid portrait of life on Faithful Place creates a richly drawn world that I felt like I was visiting whenever I read the book. The bottom line is that Tana French writes intelligent, character-driven mysteries that come alive in ways that affect your mind and soul. She hasn’t written a bad book yet, and I’d list her as one of my favorite authors. My only complaint is that she isn’t more prolific!
Note: Now that I’ve read all three Tana French novels, I’m anxiously awaiting her next one, which is due in 2012. Because each of her books focus on a character that appeared in previous books, I was trying to guess who might be featured in her next novel. My money was on the young detective Stephen (who Frank manipulates and mentors in this book), but then I found this interview, which reveals that Scorcher Kennedy will be the next narrator. Although this threw me for a loop as I wasn’t exactly drawn to Scorcher in this book, I trust Tana French implicitly, and I’ll be buying her book the second it comes out.
Frank is pulled back to Faithful Place when Rosie's body is discovered in an abandoned building. Naturally, another detective is assigned to the case, but Frank can't stay away and investigates on his own. In the process he dredges up a huge pile of family secrets and dysfunction, surfacing old wounds he thought had healed. Frank's personal life is also a bit of a mess, recently divorced from Olivia and with a young daughter, Holly. Frank's attempts to maintain a cordial relationship with Olivia and develop a deeper relationship with Holly are often thwarted by the demands of his job, and the Rosie case taxes them all to the limit.
Frank's emotional turmoil was both painful and realistic, as he mourned the permanent loss of Rosie, and became reacquainted with his family and the damage they continued to inflict on one another. The characters in Frank's world were very well developed and made this book much more than "just a crime novel." I'm looking forward to continuing this series.
I'm not as impressed with this novel as French's last two. I never liked the main protagonist. The story seemed to go on and on and at one point I though it would never end. Once a second murder occurred, I was a little more interested. There's a lot of background noise involving detective Mackey's family and it gets annoying at times, but perhaps that's the point. The main theme of loyalty to the family at any cost got tiresome and I couldn't buy it.
This is a good read, very atmospheric, with Irish-tinged dialog so vivid you'll almost think you're listening to an audiobook! The reader's heart goes out to Frankie, so damaged by his upbringing amid poverty and alcoholism, and trying hard to be a good father to his own daughter. The resolution of the plot is not particularly surprising, but that is not particularly important, either.
You see, Frank Mackey here investigates the disappearance of his first love who he for over 20 years thought dumped him and ran away to England. The whole narrative is laced with Frank's memories of Rosie and their teenage romance. I didn't quite expect it, but the story gave me goosebumps like only a very few teen novels about first love ever did. This is probably the main reason why Faithful Place is my favorite of Tana French's novels, at least for now.
The other reason is Frank. I love his voice, he is funny and sarcastic and can bullshit people into doing just about anything. He is also vulnerable and fragile and damaged. Who doesn't like reading about a man like that?
And then there is Frank's family. They are a group of sad cases and yet, strangely, they all are lovable and relatable in some strange way, even the worst of them.
Finally, my last "plus" - out of all 3 books in the series, Faithful Place is the most "Irish." It gives a very honest and often harsh view of the working class living in Ireland. Not quite the picture you get after reading Fever books.
On the other hand, the mystery in this novel is probably the most straight-forward and obvious. I knew (well, guessed right) the perp probably by the middle.
It doesn't take away, however, from the fact that Faithful Place is, if not a strong mystery, a very personal, very nostalgic, very tender story...
This is a story with an abusive, alcoholic father and a mother who is like a mob boss in her own home. There are antagonistic feelings between the adult children and everything is cloaked in the extreme poverty of suburban Dublin.
At age nineteen, Frank Mackey was to meet his girlfriend, Rosie Doyle and they were to run away to London to marry. Rosie never showed up at the meeting.
Despondent, Frank never went home. He moved in with a group of rockers and later joined the police force.
Since Rosie had left a message that she'd return some day, Frank always kept a place for her in his heart and never found anyone that he loved as much as Rosie.
A quarter of a century later, Rosie's suitcase was found in an old house and Frank decides to investigate. His worst fear is realized when a decomposed body is found.
As with the author's other work, this is a literary, plot driven novel. We observe life in a family that has more than its share of issues and see how Frank looks into the past while attempting to deal with his feelings toward his family and the life he could have had.
But I've fallen out a love a bit with the genre and, were it not for Tana French, could quite possibly be happy without reading it much at all.
Then I discovered IN THE WOODS about a year ago - and it angered me as much as captured me - the strange ending, the weird twists and turns. I picked up THE LIKENESS and all anger I'd still felt just melted away and, once again, I was sucked into a story that was absolutely amazing.
FAITHFUL PLACE was no different. We visit Frank Mackey from IN THE WOODS fame and discover more about him, his divorce, his daughter and his hugely dysfunctional family.
This book put the mystery second place though, I think. It was the first time I was actually able to figure out "who done it" and I kept expecting another twist. Instead what I got was some really gritty, very real looks at the hardships caused by class difference and family background.
For the first time in a Tana French novel I put the book down and felt a spark of hope for the main character which was strange because, out of the three, this one was probably the darkest.
Tana's writing is improving, her storytelling ability is gripping and I will anxiously be awaiting her next book with the same enthusiasm I've had in the past for authors who just can't compare anymore.