Book Blitz (part 4): Faithful Place, Tana French

Frank Mackey and Rosie Daly were young, in love, and very anxious to get out of Faithful Place, the district in inner city Dublin in which both of their families live. So they save their money, buy tickets, pack their bags… but on the night they were supposed to meet, Frank finds a note saying she’s headed to London to make a new live. Frank is devastated, but decides it’s time to leave, even if it is alone.

Twenty-some years later, Detective Frank Mackey gets a call from the home he’s avoided for decades: an old suitcase was found in a chimney, they think it belonged to Rosie. Suddenly, the girl who left him behind doesn’t seem to have gotten very far. And Frank has to go home—to the alcoholic and abusive father, the crazy mother, the squabbling adult siblings—to find out exactly what happened to the girl he loved.

Again, really good book. Tana French is definitely one of my new favorites. Like The Likeness and In the Woods, this book stands alone but is connected to the others (Frank appears in The Likeness as the director of the undercover operation; Cassie, from The Likeness, was Rob’s partner from In the Woods).

I find this approach to writing a series very effective. Rather than sticking with one primary character, each of French’s novels feature a different protagonist. Coupled with the first-person narrative and the nature of the mysteries that are being investigated (reflecting or arising from the primary personal trauma/drama of the protagonist), these books feel less like straight-up mysteries and more like psychological drama. These are the important stories, the pivotal stories. Frank Mackey and Cassie Maddox and Rob Ryan all (presumably) have long and varied careers, highlighted with many fascinating cases. But these, the stories French is telling, these are the stories that matter, the stories that shape their lives. These are the stories they’d tell on their deathbed. It’s a much more personal way of telling a story. Really very good stuff.

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