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Faithful Place by Tana French


This is Tana French's third novel.  You can always count on French to turn in a spectacularly written and plotted novel.  I've read all of her novels thus far and I've never been disappointed.  Faithful Place follows Frank Mackey, who made his first appearance as Detective Cassie Maddox's old undercover boss who pulls her back in for one more undercover operation that ends in disaster.  Just where Faithful Place's story is in the chronology in relation to The Likeness and In the Woods, I'm not sure--there aren't any clues that give it away and none of the other characters from previous novels make any cameos in this one.  If there were clues in The Likeness that hinted at the placement of Faithful's chronology, well, I read that one over a year ago and I don't remember them anymore.  Right now is about the time I start wondering and digging around for clues as to what French's next novel will entail.  Will it be about an entirely new character?  Will an old character return for an encore?  I wonder, I wonder.

Faithful Place's tone stands in stark contrast to the tone of The Likeness.  I remember when I read Likeness I was afraid to read it for fear of the fulfillment of the pervasive sense of foreboding that haunted each chapter in the book.  Faithful, while depicting events that are in some ways even darker than those depicted in Likeness, did not exude the same sense of dark foreboding as its predecessor.  Perhaps this had a lot to do with the vivid, shall we say colorful, characters that French draws so masterfully.  This is a gripping page turner, and, with this novel especially,  French's talent for creating a distinct and unique voice for her narrator is on display.

Frank Mackey, the undercover detective who nearly wrecked Cassie Maddox's life in the previous novel, returns as the narrator whose past comes back to haunt him with a vengeance.  I do not want to be Frank Mackey on a good day.  Mackey has been estranged from his crazy, working class family, save for his baby sister, for over two decades.  He thinks he's finally made it out of his old neighborhood, Faithful Place.  Then one evening Frank returns home to several frantic messages from Jackie, his younger sister.  Jackie, along with the rest of the family, is in a panic thanks to a suitcase that's been uncovered in a long abandoned and derelict house on Frank's old street where much of his family still live.  Upon further investigation, Frank verifies that the case does indeed belong to Rose Daly, his first love with whom he made plans to run away to England as teenagers.  Both Rose and Frank were determined to make it out of the Place, even if it meant they might never be able to see their families or come home again thanks to a nasty on going feud of murky origins between the Dalys and the Mackeys.

On the night the two planned to make their getaway, Frank waited for Rose out at the top of the street for hours in the cold, but Rose never showed.  Frank, assuming she changed her mind, ditched him and set off on her own for England, leaves the Place, cuts off all contact with his family, and makes his way elsewhere in the city of Dublin where he eventually becomes a cop.  However, Frank never forgets Rose, in fact, her specter haunts every romantic relationship he has after her, and every few years he runs checks, hoping something will come up to tell him where Rose is and why she never met him that night.  But Frank never finds anything that points to Rose until his sister calls him twenty years later with the news that Rose's case has turned up.

The reappearance of Rose's case reopens old wounds and Frank's instincts tell him that it points to a far more ominous explanation for why Rose never made their rendezvous that night.  So Frank is reluctantly drawn back to his old stomping grounds and to his family (most of each of whom occupy different places on the crazy spectrum) to resolve what really happened to Rose.  Unfortunately upon Frank's arrival, events start developing at a fast clip well on their way to spinning out of control.  He finds that once both his family and his old neighborhood both have their claws hooked in him again they won't release him until they've drawn their share of blood.  And events are set in motion by the discovery of Rose's case that will claim and disfigure more lives and by the mystery's resolution Frank has relearned a hard lesson of how those we love most are capable of wreaking the most damage on us.

I highly recommend you pick up this novel and any of French's others if you haven't already.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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