Happy Monday, friends! I hope your weekend was fantastic – ours was lovely, but exhausting. Pictures to come.
For now, I’m going to tackle the first book review/chat in our In Other Words summer series, Tana French’s Faithful Place.
You should be aware of a few of my biases before you go taking my word for what you should be reading. I like borderline and sometimes downright creepy stories as much as I like the happy ones, and I don’t mind a good detective thriller in the slightest. I’m not offended by language in books, nor do I edit my reading choices if a book is overall awesome but has a few awkwardly explicit scenes. Consider yourselves warned.
I have a big soft spot for Tana French for a number of reasons. I loved In the Woods in all of its creepy glory, and I’m completely wild about The Likeness, with its eerie-but-endearing community of close knit friends and Cassie, its interesting, complex, and slightly unpredictable protagonist. I was super, super stoked to read Faithful Place. French weaves her novels together with common characters instead of a continuing plot line, and I was jazzed to see who she’d narrow the spotlight on this time.
Frank Mackey, however, is not my favorite character. Maybe we just don’t get along, maybe I just don’t feel he had the same openness that her previous protagonists have brought to the table, but one way or another, he and I just didn’t gel. Which is a bummer, because it kept me from sinking into this novel the way I’ve done with her previous work.
Faithful Place is the story of Dublin Murder Detective Frank Mackey, his estranged family, and his first love, a fiery girl who disappeared without warning on the night they were planning to elope some twenty years ago. When new evidence draws new attention to his old flame’s disappearance, Frank returns to Faithful Place, the home he abandoned long ago, to sleuth out what happened to her.
The family dynamics in Faithful Place are fascinating – the Mackeys are both likable and detestable in one breath, and Frank is an endearing chameleon as he shifts gears to interact with both them and his charming daughter Holly. As always, French writes about Ireland in a way that I love. Everything in this story is soaked in love for the culture and careful attention to detail and it practically drips Ireland, but not in the floaty, dreamy, green pastures and country cottages way – French’s Ireland is gritty as much as lovely, impoverished, crass, and fabulously real.
Overall, I’d say this was a nice read, but not one I’m going to insist you run out and get your hands on. If you enjoy a well-written criminal mystery, and you haven’t read her first two, leave French’s third book alone for now and seek them out. Faithful Place will still be here when you’re ready.
Anybody else read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts!