13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2012
I read "Into the Woods" and really enjoyed it then bought "The Likeness" which bored me so much I gave up half way through. Then with much trepidation bought "Faithful Place" WOW what a tale I was hooked immediately. The characters are brilliantly drawn and totally true to life (I am a Dubliner myself) and I was so moved by the love story between Frank & Rosie it brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. I did however guess the killer quite early on but this in no way put me off the story. Tana's understanding of Dublin and particularly in the 1980's is spot on, not sure if she lived there then or not and her portrayal of a family from Dublin's poorer district's is totally authentic. I don't live in Dublin any longer but the book transported me back so well I could even smell the hops from the Guinness factory. Well done Tana, more please.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 30 October 2011
I found this book compulsive from the opening sentence onwards, to the very last page. I have read one of her other books, 'The Likeness' which was strong on many levels, but this gripped far more than that book did, much as I enjoyed the way French played with the idea of doubles in 'The Likeness'. 'Divorced Cop' is a cliche, what French does is turn the cliche inside out so that the first murder is the catalyst for a much bigger story, told in retrospect, about how a deeply unhappy family might contribute to the potential for divorce and estrangement, never mind the motivation for becoming a policeman, and how the unhappy family background and police work combined would strain the most committed of marraige partnerships. The portrayal of the Frank Mackey is humane-ness itself, tested by an inhumane situation.
As for predictability, some will guess who did what and when they did it fairly early in, but the point is more why they did it, which is where the compulsion comes into the reading of it. One of the reasons Greek Tragedy has lasted is because the plots are about 'why' rather than 'how' or 'when', character rather than procedural details, and those tragedies were about invoking catharsis. The family at the centre of this story, and the street on which they live, are hewn out tragedy, and have a strong sense of spiking each other's chances from before birth onwards. I am sure French kept a note book of the aggressive vernacular working class phrases which fit the Dublin she portrays, which particularly delighted me. Even now, though, I would not like to think of or count the number of expletives in the book, nor the number of seperate portrayals of domestic violence, or times when drink put reason and calm to sleep. Only once does a television get destroyed, but they are disposable anyway.
The book ends with a ragged catharsis, a rather emotionally drained potential for a fresh start is there for the taking, if the rest of Frank's life is calm enough. But of course that is all for another book.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 17 June 2011
Tana French has been a cut above from the word go. Her haunting debut In the Woods left no doubt in my mind that a distinctive new voice in crime fiction had spoken up, demanding a fair hearing, and though French's next novel had its issues - perhaps The Likeness was a touch too Murder She Wrote in the belief-beggaring mystery of coincidence at its core - nevertheless its was a gripping read, so taut and thrilling and refreshingly character-driven most longtime crime writers would have stood to learn a thing or two from it.
Well you ain't seen nothin' yet.
Faithful Place in French's best yet, and by a country mile. With a brilliantly conflicted new protagonist to come to grips with, and a grim new neighbourhood with its very own closet full of skeletons to explore, the Irish import of the hour ably breaks away from the pack, delivering an unabashedly heartfelt portrait of a people, a place, and a time.
Twenty years ago, Frank Mackey planned to escape Faithful Place with his gorgeous girlfriend, Rosie Daly. The son and the daughter of two tight-knit families at war with one another over a long-forgotten grudge, these star-cross'd lovers had hoped to run away from the estate, to take off towards the bright city lights of London and never return. In secret the pair packed their bags, arranged with great care a rendezvous point from which they would stage their daring flight, and bided their sweet time.
But come the appointed hour, there was no sign of Rosie. Frank waited for her the whole night through... but nothing. And with the dawning of the next day came the dawning realisation that the love of his life had stood him up. Rather than coming crawling back to the Mackeys, with his tail between his legs, Frank resolved instead to forge on with the plan, such as it was.
The one that got away has been the bane of his existence ever since, so when Frank - an undercover detective now, working for the Dublin police force - when Frank gets wind of the discovery of a suitcase filled with Rosie's things stuffed up the chimney flue of Number 16, Faithful Place, and returns home to hear tell of a rank smell as of rotting rats in the same abandoned building shortly after he and the Daly girl were presumed to have run away together, he must face the very real possibility that twenty years ago, Rosie met a markedly more awful fate than the life he has imagined her living ever since: murder.
As dark as anything Tana French has written, as fraught with cruelty, loss, and the corruption of quiet hope, Faithful Place is yet an indelibly endearing novel. Charming in a thuggish sort of sense, say like Jason Statham coming home for a cup of tea, and funny in the way a Glasgow kiss might be, if it went badly wrong - as so often such things do - Faithful Place will surely grab you from the get-go, disarming you with its warmth and its humanity, disturbing you with its brutal honesty, and insight.
It's somewhat off-kilter as far as crime fiction goes - but then this author has made that style of narrative her stock in trade - and perhaps French can be a little over-verbose when directness is all such-and-such a moment demands, but these are niggles... nothings, really, next to the fabulously alarming way your heart will pound when inevitably, Frank confronts a killer.
Faithful Place is crime fiction at its very finest. A tragic tale, brilliantly told... loving but bittersweet... and told with such prescient truth that you'll be a mess well before the end: the latest from Tana French? Superb.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is special. I'm new to Tana French, despite this being her third novel, but she is clearly an exceptionally gifted storyteller. Not so much for the story itself - although that element is very good anyway - but for the way she tells it, for her skills as a writer are right up there with the very best. It's a tale worth treasuring for all aspiring authors, because in many ways this is a classy demonstration of how it should be done, with quality on every single page.
The story is relatively simple at first glance. Set mainly in the present day in a tough, close-knit community in Dublin, it occasionally looks back 22 years to the sudden and inexplicable disappearance of Frank Mackey's first love Rosie, on the eve of their secret elopement to England. Today Frank is 41, divorced, works as an undercover cop and has been living in another part of Dublin for all of those two decades and more, not wanting to return to the road in which he grew up - Faithful Place - because of the many painful memories it holds for him, his lost love being not the only one. His father has a long history of domestic violence, and deep-rooted feuds among and between close neighbours still hold true after all these years. But an unexpected phone call from one of his sisters brings Frank back to his spiritual home for a reunion with his family that he neither expected nor wanted. A body has been found in a derelict house in Faithful Place, and the universal assumption from all involved is that it must be that of the departed Rosie Daly. If it is true, then the list of suspects is far from clear....
While falling into the fairly conventional genre of murder mystery, Faithful Place is several notches higher than its mainstream peers for all manner of reasons, for it has depth, tension and passion in abundance, in ways that are found only a handful of times for regular crime fiction readers. Its overwhelming and most memorable strengths lie in the dialogue, and in a way it is akin to a stage play (having been inspired by playwright Louise Lowe's production of the same name) with a series of intensely moving conversations between Frank Mackey and his associates in the Murder Squad, and the family and friends he abandoned half a life earlier. The richness of the prose is displayed at its best in these conversations, which in their slightly different ways enable the reader to get deep under the skin of all involved. All of the key characters are superbly drawn and developed, and while I must admit to correctly pointing the finger at the ultimate culprit at an early stage, for once it did not matter and instead of diluting the sense of atmosphere it actually served to strengthen it, because Frank himself doesn't put the pieces together until quite late on - which brings about a powerful and brilliantly well-penned confrontation. While many a writer would have resorted to violence in the narrative, Tana French uses the power of the spoken word, and in this department there are very few who can do it better. It is the very antithesis of the adage 'all talk and no substance', because the tale is heavily weighted towards dialogue yet this is where all the action lies and it is at all times meaningful and emotive. Police procedural narratives are allocated with deliberate economy, in such a way as to focus on the highly-charged and competitive relationship between Frank and a long-standing colleague, and an entirely different one between Frank and a rookie detective. Utterly different but equally magnetic to read. I try to avoid that old nugget 'unputdownable' but this tale definitely qualifies; it's a tale to think about when you're not reading it, a book to look forward to reading when you get home, a novel to put at the top of your list of things to do on the busiest of days.
In spite of such accolades, I can accept that it won't be for everyone, because some might complain that 'not much happens'. It's not an action-filled tale, and outside of the many conversations that Frank has, together with his own private reflections related in the first-person throughout, it's true that there is little in the way of physical events which makes this, in one's mind's eye, much more of a stage play than a cinematic film. But that it is not to understate its calibre for one moment, because in terms of getting to know its mostly family-related characters it puts more than just flesh on the bones, it adds layers of blood, sweat and tears that the reader can feel and react to in ways that most stories cannot begin to convey.
I wish Tana French the best of success in her writing career, for hers is a very special talent. I recommend Faithful Place with confidence for those who seek in-depth character analysis and inter-reaction, who want characters who feel absolutely real and convincing, and who enjoy tragic romance portrayed in nothing but totally convincing authenticity. It is pretty much flawless, and it has given me the greatest of pleasures to read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Amazon blurb about the book is accurate, and the story and characterisation are consistent, and Tana French writes well with a nice turn of appropriately colourful language. But I did not enjoy the book, and found it not in the least bit gripping; I took a fortnight to read it compared with only two days for Think of a Number.
For my simple tastes I found that none of the characters are particularly sympathetic, and I actually disliked the protagonist, Frank Mackey. It also feels overlong, over complex, with too much about the relationships of an unpleasant family, the sort you really do not want as neighbours even within a quarter mile, and not enough about solving the murder.
I had hoped 'Faithful Place' might give me a deeper flavour of Ireland, which is a beautiful country with fascinating people. But instead the book left me feeling somewhat depressed, something completely at odds with my fond memories of enjoying visits there. Maybe some sensitive editing could lift it, but I doubt it, since it seems to have been carefully written with the callous intent of painting a bleak and hopeless picture.
Sadly, this one disappointed me, it turned out not to be my cup of tea. I am sure that when trapped indoors on a couple of wet and windy dark winter days the more patient readers will enjoy it, but I just could not get into it in sunny August. Hence it only has three stars.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2012
I went into Faithful Place quite half-heartedly, because I had really not enjoyed the last Tana French book I had read. I didn't know what I was going to be in for and I had just had a run of really bad books so I was hoping this would be somewhat decent.
It was brilliant. French's best yet. Right from the start, it grabbed me by the collar and wouldn't let go until the very end. Such a well-woven story of loss, betrayal, family, tensions, loyalty and love, the ride never stopped for me. I would be itching to pick it back up again at any chance I could to continue with a story that was not so much fast-paced as it was absolutely gripping.
This is a long book but you never once get the sense that it is too drawn out. Sometimes the details may seem superfluous - on the contrary, every bit of the story matters. To get an accurate picture of the reasons why things happened, every detail matters. There were flashbacks in the novel - depending on how they are written, these can be quite confusing and unnecessary but French handled them with such flair that I never once lost track of what was happening.
This was such a well written book. The excellent writing style I have come to expect but worried was lost after reading Broken Harbour is strongly evident in Faithful Place and I would urge anyone who is after a good read to pick this one up.
Highly, highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 August 2014
Not only a crime novel, but also a story about family, loyalty and how to be true to oneself.
Ms. French tells a story about love, failed aspirations, hate, selfloathing and hope in a way that makes you want to read all day. - And night.
The fact that the hero of this story is a guy, is not a problem whatsoever. One forgets, as it were, that a woman has written this book; the male voice is both believable and captivating.
The story is both sad and exitcing at the same time.
One wants to find out what happend by reading on and on all night, but at the same time one wants to save all of them from heartache and loss of hope. This is because the characters don't come across as made up. Not at all. It's as if she writes about people who not only actually exist, but whom she knows intimately.
Enjoyed the book a lot.
Will buy all her books as soon as possible.
Each of Tana French's books places a different detective centre stage, but a central character in one will crop up as a not-quite-peripheral, or even as a major minor player in another.
Faithful Place has a particularly challenging protagonist/instigator-and-victim of fate. We met Frank Mackey as a powerful, charismatic, dynamic figure in The Likeness. Mackey heads up Undercover Operations. We don't know too much about his past, but he is hugely influential in The Likeness. And he will appear again as a slippery, influential player in The Secret Place, attractive and manipulative by turns. In those two novels, the reader sees pretty well only Mackey's mask.
In this book, he is slap bang in the centre, and the source of his complex and damaged personality, and how that damage is used both positively and in a retrograde way, comes clear. He is like some kind of scorpion figure. Scorpions (well, female scorpions) are fiercely protective of their families - and the family, in this context, may spread far wider than blood family. But, as all know, their sting is deadly, and a wide berth should be kept!
Mackey is certainly not an attractive figure here. The book is told in his voice, and that voice is generally brutal, unforgiving, self serving. What redeems him is his love for his precocious daughter, Holly. And his love for his ex-wife, Olivia, though it is largely Mackey's driven, controlling, self-protective angry personality which made Olivia end the marriage.
Mackey came from a very dysfunctional family indeed. Father an alcoholic, unskilled, though with a huge potential which was never realised, due to neighbourhood enmities going back a generation; mother a manipulating fearful and aggressive mammy martyr. And the 5 children, Carmel, Shay, Frank, Kevin, Jackie, the battleground on which the parental war was played out.
"One of my da's tragedies was always the fact that he was bright enough to understand just how comprehensively he had shat all over his life. He would have been a lot better off thick as a plank"
Frank Mackey, back in his teenage years, had a secret first love, Rosie Daly. Theirs was a Romeo and Juliet affair as the Daly and Mackey fathers were sworn enemies. Frank and Rosie were deep in the planning of elopement and escape to England, but the night they had set for this to happen, Rosie didn't show up, and left a note for Frank, saying that she was going to England and was sorry to hurt him. This devastating blow to his idealistic dreams not only damaged, for life, his ability to trust, be intimate and open with anyone, but also meant that he also ran away from his own home, that night. He had after all, planned to do this with Rosie, now he did it alone. Twenty two years later, he is still estranged from his family who never forgave him for leaving. The enmity between the Mackeys and the Dalys has also grown, as the Daly family had been convinced, given that both Frank and Rosie vanished on the same night, that they had gone together, and that somehow Frank must have abandoned Rosie in England, and returned to build a better life for himself as a member of the Garda. The community don't have much liking for the Garda.
And now, events happen which bring Frank back to his family and community, both personally and professionally, and these events fling open all the doors revealing community cupboards full to bursting with skeletons.
It took me a little longer to surrender to this book than most of the others - and in the main it is because of the challenges of an unlikeable central character. French manages this brilliantly, but Frank's heat, and rage are uncomfortable to be with. But for sure you are made to fully understand and engage with why Frank's aggression, despair and anger are as they are - and he is also a man who struggles and positively tries to engage with his shadows.
And it also has to be said that Mackey's dark wit keeps the reader going. His is an unkind humour, but he is amusing
"A handful of ten-year-olds with underprivileged hair and n o eyebrows were slouched on a wall, scoping out the cars and thinking wire hangers. All I needed was to come back and find that suitcase gone. I leaned my arse on the boot, labelled my Fingerprint Fifi envelopes, had a smoke and stared our country's future out of it until the situation was clear all round and they (expletive deleted meaning `went away') ...to vandalise someone who wouldn't come looking for them"
Now all I can do is wait impatiently for Tana French to write book 6, now i have finished reading all magnificent 5
Twenty-two years ago nineteen year old Francis Mackey planned to run away to London with his girlfriend Rosie; to leave behind their dysfunctional families and the factory jobs of working class Dublin for a better life - but Rosie never turned up and Francis never left Ireland. Now he's Frank Mackey, a legendary undercover cop who has nothing to do with his family - until a suitcase is found in a deserted building and it seems that Rosie never changed her mind after all.
I loved Tana French's other two books (In the Woods and The Likeness), and while I think this is still a beautifully-written and well-crafted novel, it somehow lacks, for me, the edginess of her other books. As always, she captures the personality of her narrator exquisitely through his first person narrative, and keeps his voice very different from those of her two previous narrators.
Relationships are delineated with precision and detail but I have to say that I didn't enjoy the squalor of the environment in which the story takes place, despite recognising the realism of the picture.
Reviewers of French's previous books have sometimes had problems with precisely the qualities that I have loved: the disturbing ambiguities of In the Woods, and the wild premise of The Likeness which still somehow works even though it does require a major suspension of disbelief. This book is undoubtedly much more grounded which may please some readers.
But despite my quibbles, this is still an excellent read, confident, dense and resonant; and French has definitely become a `must read' for me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 January 2015
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Broken Harbour, I was excited to give another of Tana French books a go. I came across Faithful Place which begun wonderfully, however by half way through the book I had become so incredibly bored that I gave up caring what had happened between Frank and Rosie and who the murderer would turn out to be. I soldiered on and was not at all surprised with the murderer's identity, in fact, French had been dropping incredibly obvious hints throughout the majority of the book, effectively ruining the mystery.