Title: Faithful Place
Series: Dublin Murder Squad, #3
Author: Tana French
Publisher: Penguin Viking Adult
Release Date: July 13th, 2010
Length: 400 pages | 16 hours, 3 minutes
Source: Borrowed from my local library
That which was buried is brought to light and wreaks hell — on no one more so than Frank Mackey, beloved undercover guru and burly hero first mentioned in French’s second book about the Undercover Squad, The Likeness.
Faithful Place is Frank’s old neighborhood, the town he fled twenty-two years ago, abandoning an abusive alcoholic father, harpy mother, and two brothers and sisters who never made it out. They say going home is never easy, but for Frank, investigating the cold case of the just-discovered body of his teenage girlfriend, it is a tangled, dangerous journey, fraught with mean motivations, black secrets, and tenuous alliances. Because he is too close to the case, and because the Place (including his family) harbors a deep-rooted distrust of cops, Frank must undergo his investigation furtively, using all the skills picked up from years of undercover work to trace the killer and the events of the night that changed his life.
I’m making my way through Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, and although I’m liking the books, it’s clear that French’s style is inconsistent. So after finishing the third (which I liked better than the second, in many ways), I can say with confidence that if you loved the atmospheric creep factor and unanswered possible-magical-realism mystery of In The Woods….you’re not gonna get that with her other books (at least not so far). On the one hand, that’s frustrating because I liked the style and pace of book one. On the other hand, these are still solid mysteries. Also, “Dublin Murder Squad” is a misnomer- they’re all about solving murders, but only the first book involves a detective *on* the Dublin Murder Squad. Books 2 and 3 involve detectives in Undercover. So that’s my PSA.
One of my favorite things about this book was Frank’s turns of phrase. I don’t know if this is classic Irish wit and language, or he’s meant to be snappy (for the reader- the other characters certainly don’t notice or comment on it), but some of his phrases made me laugh out loud. Also, for all that I mistrusted him while reading The Likeness, I do like him as a main character. And I hope young Stephen is the MC of the next book.
Without giving too much away, this story centers on a very personal cold case, and the story is as much about how family shapes (and breaks) you as it is about solving a murder. Most of it is fairly heartbreaking, for someone who had a great childhood and a loving family. It also feels very realistic (not to Ireland specifically, but to those areas of high poverty and misery rate, with attitudes that ‘getting out’ makes you a lesser person).
The mystery itself is a bit twisty for the first half of the story, but then it holds the same direction. Again, at that point it’s mostly the story of Frank, more so than solving the murder. The end if a bit….mellow? lackluster? It holds no punch, it isn’t a cliffhanger (none of hers are, really), and it leaves us well able to walk away from Frank, the mystery, and all.
To be honest, I’m considering setting it aside, the reading of this series. Without an overarcing mystery, or an investment in the recurring characters (because there basically are none), I find myself wondering why I should grab the next one. Maybe in the winter they’ll feel like a better choice, when I gravitate toward more introspective and contemplative stories.
I’m a coffee-fueled, hobby-addicted bibliophage who makes cruelty-free mineral eye shadows (inspired by novels). I’m usually in front of a screen (writing, reading, or gaming), but I’ve been known to emerge for geekery, good food, and dark chocolate.