Mystery is apparently my favorite genre for 2017. Next up for me is Tana French’s third Dublin Murder Squad book, Faithful Place. In this installment we are allowed into the mind of Frank Mackey – the lead detective on the Undercover Squad whom we met in The Likeness, and frankly (ha!) didn’t like. Back when Frank was a young man from the wrong side of the river living with his parents and four siblings, he fell in love with a feisty young girl down the street named Rose. Their fathers were definitely not fans of each other so their love affair had something of a Romeo & Juliet bent. In 1986, when Frank was 19, he and Rosie were all set to leave their families in the middle of the night and move to England together to elope and generally make their lives better, get out of the same patterns in which they’d been raised. Luckily for the Undercover Squad, Rose never showed that night; Frank left alone and ended up a cop. Twenty-some years later, Frank gets a call from his sister – Rose’s suitcase has been found in the chimney of abandoned Number 16 Faithful Place, the street on which they both lived. In spite of his great reluctance to come home to a family he can’t stand and hasn’t seen in decades, Frank can’t resist finding out what this means for his first true love and why she never showed.
I didn’t expect to be as engrossed in this book as I had been in French’s other entries in the series, mainly because I had found Frank so distasteful in The Likeness. He’s brash, cocky, rude, and seemingly unfeeling. I should have known better and had more faith in French. I could not put this one down either. Yet another late night of reading to finish this one up. I hope that it isn’t a huge spoiler, but since it comes out pretty early in the novel I feel safe in discussing it. Rose’s suitcase isn’t the only thing discovered in Number 16 – the abandoned home that all the kids used to hang in for sex, drugs and rock & roll; her body is there too. I feel like since this is a Dublin Murder Squad book one would expect actual murder and ergo I didn’t ruin anything for you. Naturally Frank wants to find out what happened to Rose the night she was supposed to be meeting him – even if he is warned off by the real Murder Squad and his own family makes him want to flee. Funnily, Frank shows a disdain for the detectives of the murder squad, but he would actually be a pretty great homicide detective. And in this novel he is actually a lot more human and appealing. You root for Frank; he hasn’t gotten rid of all the negative qualities you find in The Likeness, but since it’s his point of view, you get more understanding of why he is the way he is.
I actually loved this mystery, in spite of the fact that I had guessed the culprit pretty early on – a first with French’s novels. I didn’t know the motive at all, so it was really engrossing to dig in and try to suss it out before it was revealed. I didn’t, not 100%. I really like the idea of a cold case getting solved – no surprise given my obsession with podcasts like Serial, In the Dark, etc. The language French uses is incredibly vivid and picturesque, as usual. I do wish for another chapter or two to follow up on the aftermath; I know we won’t get one in other novels, or we’re unlikely to since she picks up different characters each time, so it sucks to not know what happens with the main players after the dust settles. I read that these books had been optioned for a tv series. I really want that to happen, but like on BBC or AMC or a network that will appreciate them. I don’t know what else to add that isn’t spoilery, so just get this on your list and check it out!