Thursday, June 18, 2020

Fiction Review: Faithful Place

After reading--and loving--the first two books in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series, In the Woods and The Likeness, and recently watching the TV show based on those two books, Dublin Murders, I was more than ready to read book 3 in the series, Faithful Place. It was the perfect pick for my first book for my annual Big Book Summer Reading Challenge. Somehow, French just keeps outdoing herself, with each book better than the one before! Faithful Place grabbed me and never let me go, with its combination of intense suspense, mystery, family drama, and in-depth characters.

This series does not have to be read in order, but those who've read book one and especially book two, will remember Frank Mackey as the brash, risk-taking, obnoxious detective in charge of the Dublin Undercover Squad. Here, though, we see an entirely different side to Frank--many sides, in fact. Frank is estranged from most of his family of origin--his alcoholic and violent father; his crazy, often-screaming mother; and three of his siblings--all except for his youngest sister, Jackie. So when Jackie calls one day and urges Frank to come home immediately, he throws away decades of separation and returns to his family's cramped home on Faithful Place, where a stunning discovery has been made. When Frank was nineteen, he planned to run away with his girlfriend, Rosie, to London, to escape his family and start a new life with her. Rosie never showed up that night, though, and for twenty-two years, Frank had assumed she left him and went to London by herself. He never went home again, and neither did she. But now, her old suitcase has been discovered in an abandoned house, and it looks like she never even left the neighborhood. This discovery turns Frank's life upside down, as everything he based his life on is proven false. He reluctantly rejoins his very dysfunctional family, as the police investigate Rosie's disappearance. Being Frank, he also launches his own covert investigation, relying on childhood connections, as he unwillingly gets pulled back into the vortex of Mackey family life, while trying to protect his own cherished young daughter from his family's darkness.

Like all of French's novels, this story has so many layers of intrigue. Readers get to know the real Frank Mackey for the first time: who he was as a kid, where he came from, and his tender relationship with his daughter, which is completely counter to his public persona. This is no typical mystery novel, as the characters and story are filled with emotional depth, making you truly care what happens and grieve when things go wrong. On the other hand, it is an excellent mystery/suspense story, with all kinds of surprising twists that kept me reading much too late every night. It is entirely gripping, an engrossing story that grabbed me and never let me go. Even once its secrets were revealed, I hated to say good-bye to the characters. I can't wait to read the next Tana French novel!

400 pages, Penguin Books

Listen to a sample of the audiobook here, read by Tim Gerard Reynolds in a wonderful Irish accent, and/or download it from Audible.

You can purchase Faithful Place from an independent bookstore, either locally or online, here:
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Or you can order Faithful Place from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.


  1. This series sounds good and I am about to need a show to watch on my treadmill each morning. I'll see if one of my streaming channels has it.

    1. It's just so amazing and gets better and better with each book, Helen! The TV show is a BBC show (so maybe on your British streaming service) and shown in the US on Starz - we caught it on a free week and binged!

  2. I also read the first two books and was blown away by how good they were. I found a website with a recommended reading order, so Broken Harbor is next on my list.

    That said, I found Frank to be such an enigma that getting his backstory would be fascinating. And, you are right, these books are so layered and rich that they make for such a satisfying read - both suspenseful and thoughtful, a rare combination.

    1. In that case, I think you will love Faithful Place, if you're interested in learning more about Frank!

      I can't wait to read more of the series!