A Faithful Place follows Frank McKey, the undercover cop introduced in Tana French’s second Dublin Murder Squad novel, The Likeness.
During the holiday season, Frank returns to his childhood neighborhood, Faithful Place, following the discovery of a suitcase that once belonged to his long-lost first love. The pair, Frank and Rosie, had planned to run away together to England over twenty years ago. The plan had been set – they were to meet after midnight and take the early morning ferry far from the shores of Ireland hoping to build a new life together. Only Rosie never made it. A note left for Frank seemed to suggest she went off on her own, but neither Frank, nor others, were convinced.
The subsequent discovery of Rosie’s body leads to more questions rather than closure for Frank. Was the note ever real? Did Rosie really intend to leave on her own? Or did she meet her end on her way to Frank? And of course, who is responsible?
As someone who was born into a dysfunctional family, a family that only gets increasingly worse as the years go by, I felt Frank’s frustration on a spiritual level, a level unlike anything I’ve read. The squabbling, the guilt, and the alcoholism all contribute to an environment where as a reader, I was on edge, waiting for a pin to drop and set someone off.
The mystery itself was solidly constructed. I did guess pretty early on where things were going although I’ll admit that French threw me off momentarily near the end. Like past entries in the series, Tana French’s strength is more so in her character work and back-and-forth dialogue than the mystery. A mystery novel always works well when it isn’t caught up in the gimmickry of an unexpected twist but rather the memorable characters that help to make the crime that was committed much more impactful. Also, bonus points for the unexpected holiday-season setting.
While Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series showcases recurring characters, each of the first three novels could easily be read as standalone books. Frank exists as a minor character in THE LIKENESS, and gets a chance to shine here, just like a minor character from this book gets his own spotlight in the next entry, BROKEN HARBOUR. While I think I loved THE LIKENESS more, the third installment isn’t something to sneeze at.