I love starting a book I know is going to be good, and Tana French has quickly become one of those authors who send me tripping home from the library in gleeful anticipation. I think The Likeness has been my favorite so far, but I was in a lazy zone then and didn’t review that one. Oops. This one was good too, but seemed even darker.
Frank Mackey is a detective in the undercover department (that sounds wrong, but you know what I mean). When he was 19, he and his girlfriend Rosie were going to run away to England (from Ireland), but she left him a note and went on without him. Or so he thought, until her suitcase is found on a construction site, decades later. This sends him back to the home and family he abandoned, searching for the girl he thought left him.
Frank is a good guy with hard edges, and as you get to know his family, you see how those edges got there. As the book went on, though, I began to wonder if he really was a good guy. I had my doubts about him in The Likeness as well, when he was a more peripheral character. It’s interesting to see things from his point of view and get to know his motivations, but I’m still not sure I could’ve done all the things he did to get to the truth. There are some serious shades of gray happening here, and Frank seems to be a big believer in the ends justifying the means.
As always, French delivers great characters, great writing, educational Irish slang, the works. Usually in a murder mystery, the dead people aren’t really characters – they’re pegs to hang the story on. In this one, though, I was truly sorry these people had to die for the sake of the story – they seemed like real, likeable characters. (Not a spoiler, I’m not telling you who and how many die!)