Faithful Place
Tana French
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Buy *Faithful Place* by Tana French online

Faithful Place
Tana French
400 pages
June 2011
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Click here to read Luan Gaines' take on Faithful Place.

Long ago, three brothers lived in the dilapidated Dublin suburb of Faithful Place. After twenty-two years, one of the brothers - undercover detective Frank MacKay - decides to return to this place from his youth after he gets a phone call from his kid sister Jackie, the only member of the family he’s actually talked to in a couple of decades.

Jackie tells Frank that some Polish construction workers have apparently found a sinister pale blue suitcase behind one of the fireplaces in derelict Number 16 Faithful Place. The news comes as a shock, and more than anything that Frank could ever have hoped for. He suddenly finds himself shutting down amid Jackie’s concerned sympathy, especially when she tells him the suitcase is Rosie Daly’s; everyone had assumed she had run off for a new life in England back in 1985 with a lovesick Francis in tow.

Like a bullet lodged too deep to dig out, French taps into Frank’s shattered memories of Rosie, his fresh, cat-eyed and restless life with his five siblings: Jackie; older brother Shay; big sister Carmel; and the younger Kevin, along with his Ma, “your classic Dublin Mammy," and her endless supply of disapproval. Over the years, their lives have been tortured by their rough-edged father, who has spent much of his existence drinking himself into a stupor, oblivious to his wife and children's needs.

Frank’s return unleashes powerful animosities in Faithful Place, along with a decaying grapevine of anger and steadily simmering neighborly feud between his family and Rosie’s parents, the Dalys, who have long seen the Mackays as "unemployed alcoholic wasters" and once warned Rosie that they’re nothing but “a bunch of filthy savages.”

Against this background, Frank is thrust into an ever-deepening mystery. Then there's the stunning discovery of a skeleton under the concrete slabs of 16 Faithful Place. Almost at once a shiver of electric charge is in the air, reverberating deep down into the guts of this working-class neighborhood. For certain something terrible happened between the moment Rosie left a note on the floor of Number 16 and when she shared her first innocent kiss with her beloved Frank.

A tough, no-nonsense cop, Frank is plunged into a past that sadistically ripples outwards, revisiting people and places in an effort to jog loose the memories of those around him. Frank knows his family well: their budding loyalties, their anger and their resentment at Frankie’s personal betrayals - after all, he’s the one that "went away." But Frank is a family man to the last, and over the years he has fought hard to keep his daughter, Holly, as far as possible from these people in the hope that she might somehow beat the genetic odds and grow up to be “a non-twisted human being.”

Clueless, Frank is finally catapulted into zero-gravity, his life fuelled by a shimmering extra thread of unease without one solid thing to grab hold of as he fights to protect what is dear to him: his memories of Rosie and Holly’s innocence. Although the real adversary (and perhaps Rosie's murderer) is where he least expects it, Frank always plays by his own rules in this dark, bleak story of a long-lost brother finally come home, tossed into a violent world he barely left behind.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2010

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