Faithful Place

Faithful Place by Tana French is a dark thriller/mystery, but not as intense as some of French's other books. | Book review by

Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was a nineteen-year-old kid with a dream of escaping his family’s cramped flat on Faithful Place and running away to London with his girl, Rosie Daly. But on the night 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. Then, twenty-two years later, Rosie’s suitcase shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, and Frank, now a detective in the Dublin Undercover squad, 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 makes 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. (Summary via

I enjoyed Tana French’s earlier book in her Dublin Murder Squad series, The Likeness, but it was so intense that I put off reading Faithful Place, even though I bought it for fifty cents at a thrift store almost four months ago.

Fortunately, although this book is still dark, it’s not nearly as intense as The Likeness. Frank left behind his abusive, dysfunctional family and his poor, rundown neighborhood without looking back, but when new information appears regarding the disappearance of his childhood sweetheart, Frank is sucked back in. Frank has to balance loyalty to his past with his desire to find the truth about what happened to Rosie, and he’s willing to risk alienating coworkers, friends, and even family to do so.

Frank, a minor character from The Likeness, is a great MC. He’s a successful undercover detective with a hardscrabble past and an uncertain future, and despite his decisions, he always remains likable. His family is that uncomfortable mix of horrible and lovable, as is Faithful Place. And while I wouldn’t necessarily classify this series as mysteries (more like thrillers, I suppose), the ending definitely took me by surprise.

It’s not necessary to read this series in order, so if you’ve been put off by the goriness of In the Woods or the intensity of The Likeness, you might pick up Faithful Place instead.

I think this quote summarizes the book pretty well:

“Most people are only too delighted to wreck each other’s heads. And for the tiny minority who do their pathetic best not to, this world is going to go right ahead and make sure they do it anyway.”

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

This post is part of the Write 31 Days series, Lovely Words. You can see all the posts in this series here.

The Likeness

Tana French's mystery will keep you glued to the book until the last, bittersweet page. | A book review by

(Thanks to Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy for the recommendation!)

I’ve heard good things about The Likeness, but it didn’t really sound like my thing. Until I came across it in a crazy good book sale at my local thrift store (I got nine books for $2! Can you blame me for getting a little carried away?).

The basic plot is this: Cassie, a police detective, has moved into the Domestic Violence department after something went awry in her last big murder case (this is the plot of the first book in the series, but you can read The Likeness as a stand alone–I did). But when a girl who looks eerily like Cassie turns up dead, and her ID is under the false name Cassie used when she was an undercover cop, Cassie is pulled back in. She takes on Lexie Madison’s voice, mannerisms, and clothes, and she goes to Whitethorn House as Lexie to live with her four roommates and hopefully lure out the killer.

It’s kind of a crazy premise, but Tana French pulls it off beautifully. Lexie and her friends all turn out to be much more complicated and loving than they appear from the outside, and Cassie finds herself being seduced by their simple, tight-knit way of life. But, of course, things are never quite what they seemed to be.

This book is haunting at times. It’s one of those books that feels like it’s Saying Something, about the attempt to escape from the daily grind and the horrible things we do to the ones we love the most, but without ever being heavy handed.

“Take what you want and pay for it,” one of the characters quotes, and each character in this book finds out how true that saying is before the story is over. It made me sad in a kind of wistful way–it’s a book that talks about the fact that sometimes love isn’t enough and sometimes the price you pay for the things you want turns out to be too high. The ending was a surprise, but at the same time it almost felt inevitable; it definitely fit with the tone of the book. I’m not sure if I’ll go back and read the first book in the series (I’ve heard it’s significantly darker), but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for new books by Tana French.

Rating: Pretty Darn Good

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