A novel of suspense might fall into one of two categories. There are those written by hacks, strictly to make a buck. From time to time, those books can be diverting, or at least temporarily distracting, but they’re rarely anything more than that. Faithful Place by Tana French falls into the other category. It’s brilliantly written, with flair and an obvious love for the sounds and the cadence of authentic spoken language. It’s carefully plotted. And its characters are finely drawn — emotionally complex, engaged in wholly credible relationships with one another, and fully human.
Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad #3) by Tana French (2010) 449 pages
@@@@@ (5 out of 5)
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.
For additional reading
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For an abundance of great mystery stories, go to Top 20 suspenseful detective novels (plus 200 more). And if you’re looking for exciting historical novels, check out Top 10 historical mysteries and thrillers reviewed here (plus 100 others).
For reviews of the other novels in this series, see my post Reviewing the Dublin Murder Squad novels by Tana French.