"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Faithful Place

TITLE: Faithful Place
AUTHOR: Tana French

Tana French is writing mysteries set in Ireland, with overlapping characters but standalone stories, which is a nice twist on the mystery series. And as was the case with the first two (In the Woods and The Likeness), this one is more about the main character than the mystery that sets the story in motion.

Faithful Place is the impoverished neighborhood where Frank Mackey grew up. Mackey was once Cassie Maddox's boss when she worked undercover. Cassie appeared in the first 2 books, but not in this one. When Frank was 19, he was going to run away to London with his girlfriend, the love of his life, Rosie Daly. They'd arranged to meet at the top of the street, but Rosie never showed and Frank, believing she'd jilted him and gone off without him, went off on his own, turning his back on his dysfunctional family. Now, 22 years later and a divorced father of a young daughter, he's called back by his youngest sister, the only one in his family he's in touch with, because Rosie's suitcase has been found by workers in a long abandoned house on the street.

It isn't long before Frank is drawn back into the drama of his past life with his alcoholic father, crazy mother, and the dysfunction of his four siblings. When Rosie's decayed body is found in the basement of the house where her suitcase was discovered, Frank is also forced to question the things he'd long believed, about her, about his family, and about himself. This book is very much Frank's story and that of his love for Rosie and the antagonism between their families that had led them to that fateful decision to run off together.

Who killed her is almost beside the point, though the truth does come out, and while it wasn't much of a surprise for me, it was far simpler than the more complex solution I'd come up with. If you like intricate mysteries that challenge your powers of deduction, Tana French probably isn't for you. But if you like well written character studies wrapped around mysteries, you can't do wrong with her and with Faithful Place.