4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Compulsion Catharsis and Crime,
This review is from: Faithful Place (Hardcover)
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.