Faithful Place by Tana French

July 26, 2010

Plot summary (from the publisher): “Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was nineteen, growing up poor in Dublin’s inner city, and living crammed into a small flat with his family on Faithful Place. But he had his sights set on a lot more. He and Rosie Daly were all ready to run away to London together, get married, get good jobs, break away from factory work and poverty and their old lives.

But on the winter night when 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. Everyone thought she had gone to England on her own and was over there living a shiny new life. Then, twenty-two years later, Rosie’s suitcase shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, and Frank 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.”

Warning: spoilers below


  • I’ve read all three of Tana French’s novels, and think this was the best by far. The story was well-written and engrossing, and the characters were great.
  • At first, I thought Shay’s motive for killing Rosie was weak as hell, and I started to get pissed off at being cheated out of yet another satisfying ending. But then French came back with the bit about Frank and Shay having planned their father’s murder, and suddenly Shay’s actions made a LOT more sense. Kudos to French for that twist, which I never saw coming at all.
  • I liked that French wasn’t afraid to make her protagonist unlikable. There were many times in this story when I wanted to punch Frank in the face, and then many others when I cheered him on. I like this kind of character much better than the ones who are ALWAYS right no matter what. Someone like Frank Mackey at least comes off as realistic.


  • I kind of pegged Shay as the doer as soon as he was introduced (despite not being able to guess at his motive), so I was a tad bit disappointed that I turned out the be right. Still, I found it odd — and not very likely — that he would fully confess to Frank so readily. He hadn’t seen Frank in 22 years, and knew the guy took his duties as a cop very seriously. If Shay had just kept his mouth shut, Frank wouldn’t have had much of a case at all.
  • I wish the ending had gone a bit further and told us if Shay was convicted or not. I actually felt bad for him by the time he got done spinning that tale about how he and Frank were supposed to kill their dad, so I’m hoping he got off scot-free.
  • The middle of the book really lagged for me. The beginning and end were great, but it took some work to plow through the middle. I think some of the scenes with the Murder Squad floater (I forgot his name already) could have been cut. I’m not sure why French had to build that character up so much — unless her next novel will center on him.


I thought Faithful Place by Tana French was a gripping read for the most part. French is clearly a talented writer, and though she occasionally has problems with plot and pacing, this book is still a wonderful achievement and a perfect candidate for your summer reading list. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

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