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Customer Review

461 of 480 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tana French at Her Best!, July 13, 2010
This review is from: Faithful Place: A Novel (Hardcover)
The emotions in Tana French's new book Faithful Place: A Novel explode on the page and inside the reader. I felt tackled by this book. As soon as I started reading it, I was grabbed and held hostage. All my senses were caught up in the narrative. I had difficulty coming up for air even though I knew it was necessary once in a while. I lived this book 24/7 until I had finished it. That's Tana French for you.

The story begins with Frank Mackey, 19 years old, waiting for his true love, Rosie Daly, to meet him. They have plans to run away from their dysfunctional homes and neighborhood in Dublin to make a new life together in England. They are totally and fiercely in love as only first loves can be. Rosie never shows up. Frank waits until morning and then proceeds alone, never knowing what happened to Rosie but thinking, deep down, that she'd changed her mind and decided not to go with him. He doesn't make it as far as England but he does manage to start a new life for himself in Dublin.

Ever since that time, Frank keeps hoping that he'll hear from Rosie. No one in her family, nor any of her friends know where she is and no one has heard from her. Frank hears nary a word, ever.

Faithful Place, the neighborhood he's leaving, is close to Trinity College but is a world away. People in `The Place' "stank of stale nicotine and stale Guinness, with a saucy little top-note of gin". People held grudges and if they were not on the dole, they worked at the Guiness plant or at odd jobs. Those who worked regularly had nothing to show for it. You knew everyone and heard conversations and arguments going on from windows and in the streets. People grew up together and had decades of knowledge about each other.

Fast-forward twenty-two years. Frank is an undercover detective with the Irish police force. He has been estranged from his family for twenty-two years, except for one sister, Jackie. Jackie gives him a frantic call that a suitcase was found in a derelict apartment building near his family's home and it appears to have belonged to Rosie. Soon after the suitcase is found, so is Rosie's body. From that time onward, Frank decides that he must find out what happened to Rosie that night.

Tana French has a wonderful way of juxtaposing the present culture of Dublin with arts, culture, and events of other cities and times. She gives the reader credit for being smart and understanding who she is talking about whether it's Jim Morrissey, Tim Burton, Jeffrey Dahmer, Mario Lanza or Kojak. She'll interject wonderful sentences into her writing. For instance, "The dim orange glow coming from nowhere in particular gave the garden a spiky Tim Burton look". One of my favorites is, ` "Kojak's on the trail" Shay said, to the gold sky. "Who loves you baby?" `

The narrative goes back and forth in time and we're privy to the horrific family of origin that Frank came from. His `da' is a raging alcoholic and his `ma' gives Olivia Soprano a run for her money. His siblings would just as soon stab one another with an ice pick than share a civil word. The dialogue is crisp and anguished. There is no doubt or subtlety about what is happening in the Mackey family.

When Frank returns to their midst after his twenty-two year absence, things are twisted up a bit. His da realizes that Frank must have an agenda and tells Frank to get the hell out of Dodge. Most people wouldn't talk to their worst enemy the way that Frank's father talks to him. This is a family filled and fueled by hatred. Frank, however, is there to stay. He has things to do and information to find out.

The book falls together perfectly. There are no weak spots and the the two primary narratives - the mystery about Rosie's death and the story of Frank's family - meld together well. Tana French is a wonder. She has the Irish gift of the gab and I advise you not to start this book unless you're willing to be grabbed and held captive by its power.
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Showing 1-10 of 50 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 13, 2010 1:07:15 PM PDT
J. P. says:
Great review!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2010 2:53:30 PM PDT
Thanks J.P. I love Tana French. I read her first book but not her second. She is a superb writer in all regards. I highly recommend this book. Bonnie

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2010 5:15:46 PM PDT
Good review, Bonnie. Doesn't French have three books out in all? I am seeing them everywhere -- Pam

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2010 5:20:23 PM PDT
Pam, She does have three books. I read her first one, 'Into the Woods' but have yet to read her second. She is a grand writer and I highly recommend her books. Faithful Place is my favorite to date. Bonnie

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2010 5:50:46 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 13, 2010 5:50:56 PM PDT
J. P. says:
Bonnie: I have never heard of her, but immediately added this book to my Goodreads "to read" list. Have such a big pile already waiting at home, but will be sure to check it out from the library eventually!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 13, 2010 5:56:51 PM PDT
J. P. says:
I just went to my Goodreads list and, as always, went to add a book that was already on it (Into the Woods). There are just so many books out there worth reading, I don't know how anyone keeps track!

Posted on Jul 14, 2010 4:05:01 PM PDT
Bonnie--I plan to read this again! Even though I liked her first two books better (no, LOVED them--Tana = love), I am still under her spell. Something about Tana makes the reader gush. She is ALWAYS authentic. Your review captured her essence beautifully. Yes, crisp and anguished is spot-on!

SBug

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2010 4:52:10 PM PDT
Bug, I think you should try reading this again. It is superb. Yes, it does go more into family stuff but there is thriller/mystery galore. And the writing is the best of hers that I've read yet. Bonnie

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2010 9:53:29 PM PDT
J.P., I know what you mean. Sometimes I forget that I ordered a book and end up with two copies of the same book. The truth is that sometimes we readers just can't keep track! Bonnie

Posted on Jul 16, 2010 2:29:03 PM PDT
Too much plot explanation in this review for my taste. Eliminate paragraphs 2-5...
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