This book really surprised me. I loved The Likeness, but detective Frank Mackey was NOT a favorite character. I really considered skipping this one and moving on to book four of the series. I’m so glad I resisted temptation because Faithful Place ended up being my favorite so far.
As with all her novels (at least the ones I’ve read!), French is just as interested in the characters and how they cope with events as she is in the mystery itself. Frank grew up poor in a Dublin neighborhood where everyone knew everybody and everything. There was no privacy whatsoever. He and his girlfriend Rosie decided to skip town and head to London, but then she never shows at the time they’re supposed to meet. He assumes she’s skipped town without him and goes on with his life always wondering what happened. Turns out that she may not have dumped him at all. She may in fact have been murdered. This shifting narrative throws Frank’s life into imbalance and turmoil as he sorts out his feelings and realigns his thoughts about the past to match up with reality.
Faithful Place really stepped it up in terms of side characters. Frank’s mostly horrible family, his weary ex-wife, and perceptive daughter were top-notch. Definitely not people I’m likely to forget any time soon.
In a way, this book is a departure from the other two in that Frank is not a part of the murder squad. He’s an undercover detective and the way he works cases is much different from a regular murder detective. It was pretty smart of French to mix things up a bit and keep the series fresh.