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Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was nineteen, growing up poor in Dublin's inner city and living crammed into a small flat with his family on Faithful Place. But he had his sights set on a lot more. He and his girl, Rosie Daly, were all set to run away to London together, get married, get good jobs, break away from factory work and poverty and their old lives.

But on the winter night when they were supposed to leave, Rosie didn't show. Frank took it for granted that she'd given him the brush-off--probably because of his alcoholic father, nutcase mother, and generally dysfunctional family. He never went home again.

Neither did Rosie. Everyone thought she had gone to England on her own and was over there living a shiny new life. Then, twenty-two years later, Rosie's suitcase shows up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, and Frank is going home whether he likes it or not.

Getting sucked in is a lot easier than getting out again. Frank finds himself straight back in the dark tangle of relationships he left behind. The cops working the case want him out of the way, in case loyalty to his family and community makes him a liability. Faithful Place wants him out because he’s a detective now, and the Place has never liked cops. Frank just wants to find out what happened to Rosie Daly-and he’s willing to do whatever it takes, to himself or anyone else, to get the job done.

400 pages, Hardcover

First published July 13, 2010

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About the author

Tana French

28 books25k followers
Tana French is the New York Times bestselling author of In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place, The Trespasser and The Witch Elm. Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry Awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,161 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
June 21, 2018
tana french and i have come a long way, baby...

and with this book, we are officially in love.

this is exactly the kind of book i was expecting from her. in the woods was great at the start and frustrating at the end, and the likeness was tons of fun for a staggeringly unbelievable premise. but really, really fun.

but this one is just great. i don't read a lot of mysteries, but when i read a good one, i get this glow of "ohhhhh - that's why people like these". and in this case, it isn't even that the mystery is that revolutionary - it follows the usual pattern: crime, investigation, red herring red herring red herring, satisfying but not unreasonable conclusion.

and then she goes and throws a little tana french monkey wrench into it just so you know it is her. but this one is more subtle and therefore less hair-pulling-out frustrating than the first book.

her strength is in the other stuff, the atmosphere surrounding the mystery. i love the irish. when i moved into this neighborhood it was almost entirely irish, and it was wonderful to walk down the street and be buoyed by the lilting cadence of those folks and their unexpected insertion of the word "after" in sentences, as in "he's after having a pint." i loved being called "love" and "duckie" and "chickadee" by older maternal women selling me pasties. it is a somewhat different neighborhood now, but there are still pockets of my beloved irish. and this book is all of that and more - all written in dialect, all about class structure and the struggle to make something of a life despite the demands of the family. and god, this family. so poisonous, so heart-scrabbling, so much guilt and passive-aggression. oofa - i loved each and every one of them.

this book can be read as a stand-alone, by the way - you don't have to have read the first two, but someday i would like some answers to my questions in the first book,please.

this review used to have buried treasure and is now simply serviceable. my apologies, world...

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Nataliya.
783 reviews12.5k followers
April 26, 2023
2020: Well, yes, this is indeed in my top three favorite Tana French novels. The character study of Frank Mackey, a product of the “bubbling cauldron of crazy” - his family and his upbringing - is absolutely wonderful.

2013: And just like that, after a 3-day reading binge of Faithful Place and Broken Harbour, Tana French joins my list of favorite authors.

There is no place like home... Well, Frank Mackey knows this phrase can have quite unexpected sinister undertones. After all, he spent 22 years away from the place he grew up and away from his family; and it's only a suitcase found in an abandoned house on his old street, Faithful Place, that can bring Frank back home - and open an old wound that has never healed.

"The suitcase was by the window. It was a pale-blue thing with rounded corners, spotted over with big patches of black mold, and it was a crack open; someone had forced the pathetic tin locks. What got to me was how small it was. Olivia used to pack just about everything we owned, including the electric kettle, for a weekend away. Rosie had been heading for a whole new life with something she could carry one-handed."
You see, once upon a time Frank was a 19-year-old raised in the dysfunctional family terrorized by a violent alcoholic father in a poor working neighborhood in Dublin, where you were fine as long as you went to church every Sunday, and always put your family first, and never ever squealed to the police about anything. The street, Faithful Place, was its own little suffocating universe with few hopes for its children to grow up different from their parents, to break out of the familiar rhythms of life.
"The rules in my road went like this: no matter how skint you are, if you go to the pub then you stand your round; if your mate gets into a fight, you stick around to drag him off as soon as you see blood, so no one loses face; you leave the heroin to them down in the flats; even if you're an anarchist punk rocker this month, you go to Mass on Sunday; and no matter what, you never, ever squeal on anyone."
But Frank and his first love Rosie had a plan - run away to England and start their new life together, full of hopes, dreams and expectations. Frank and Rosie were supposed to meet on the night of their getaway - except that Rosie never showed up. What did show up was her suitcase with her birth certificate and ferry tickets meant for their joint getaway - showed up two decades later, found in an abandoned house in Faithful Place. It seems that Rosie never managed to leave the place she so desperately wanted to escape - just like she has never ever left the thoughts of Frank Mackey, now a gruff Undercover Detective.
"I had spent my whole adult life growing around a scar shaped like Rosie Daly's absence."

And now Frank returns, hoping to solve the mystery of Rosie's death - and immediately gets sucked in right into the life he tried so hard to escape - right into "the bubbling cauldron of crazy that is the Mackeys at their finest."
"In less than a day and a half, I had had enough of my family to last me another twenty-two years. That morning in the shower, I would have bet my soul to Satan that nothing in this world could drag me back into Faithful Place."
What I love about Tana French's books is that they are hard to pigeonhole. If I had to describe them - and that includes this one, oh it so does! - I'd say something along the lines: psychological mind-f*ckery that usually starts as a murder mystery and quickly develops into an unsettling character study in a guise of police procedural, with the inevitable result of you coming to deeply care for the said characters just to watch Tana French f*ck up their lives while making your heart ache and leaving your soul shattered. And, of course, this pathetic attempt at a summary does not do her books any justice.
"Here's the real risk in Undercover, in the field and out: you create illusions for long enough, you start thinking you're in control. It's easy to slide into believing you're the hypnotist here, the mirage master, the smart cookie who knows whats real and how all the tricks are done. The fact is you're still just another slack-jawed mark in the audience. No matter how good you are, this world is always going to be better at this game. Its more cunning than you are, its faster and its a whole lot more ruthless. All you can do is try to keep up, know your weak spots and never stop expecting the sucker punch."
Frank Mackey is a cynical man always prepared for the worst after having seen the worst every day on his job; a man who is not a welcome figure in his old neighborhood that does not trust police; and underneath the rough exterior, secretly a man still mourning the loss of Rosie all those years ago, still missing his ex-wife Olivia, and counting his young daughter among what he'd readily die for. Oh, and he's a man who is not ready to let go of the long-standing resentment towards his past and his family - which are the same thing as far as he's concerned.

And let's not forget that Frank is the man who, in the eyes of his older brother Shay, has no loyalty towards his family - but who has created his own family, the family he is ready to do anything to fiercely protect, and the family he cannot help but hurt sometimes, because the world can be a mean sonovabitch. His family of one - daughter Holly, a loved and sheltered child who nevertheless has Mackee blood - the blood of that aforementioned "bubbling cauldron of crazy" that fiercely protects its own. It's Holly that's never out of Frank's thoughts.
"I want my daughter to learn that not everything in this world is determined by how often she hears it or how much she wants it to be true or how many other people are looking. Somewhere in there, for a thing to count as real, there has got to be some actual bloody reality. God knows she's not going to learn that anywhere else. So I'm going to have to teach her all by myself."

"I'm trying to bring up a kid, Jackie. That alone is enough to scare the living daylights out of any sane human being. Throw in the fact that I'm trying to bring her up in a setting where she's constantly being told to think about nothing except fashion, fame and body fat, ignore the man behind the curtain and go buy yourself something pretty... I'm petrified, all the time. I could just about stay on top of it when she was a little kid, but every day shes getting older and I'm getting scareder. Call me crazy, but I kind of like the thought of her growing up in a country where people occasionally have no choice but to focus on something more crucial than dick-replacement cars and Paris Hilton."
Frank Mackey is a gruff seasoned Detective, but his job and the solution to the old disappearance/murder all take a backseat here. What takes central stage are the emotions and complicated family relationships of past and present, all that people dismissively and resentfully refer to as "baggage" - just like a literal piece of baggage that finally reveals that Rosie has never made the escape she so desperately wanted.

And so we have the rest of the madness, both past and present, forming the rest of the novel's heart and soul. The crazy dysfunctional family with its deep secrets, trying desperately to keep up its face in front of the neighborhood, hiding the damage inflicted by the violent alcoholic father who treats wife and kids as punching bags for his pent-up mindless rage; sibling rivalries that end up being rooted in more than just expected everyday resentment; fierce protectiveness that mixes love and hate indiscriminately; the blind happiness of first love and the blind hate of old resentments; the sharp class divides of then and now that Frank Mackey now has to straddle; and the danger of mixing personal and professional.

And we know - because it's a Tana French novel, after all - that in the end there will be no feel-good warm fuzzies, that Frank Mackey will be left raw and hurt and forever changed by the experience, and that the same thing will happen to the reader. And so we brace ourselves for what's to come, and treasure the moments of happiness with the characters we came to care for, knowing that the happiness will not last.

4.5 stars - and childish excitement upon learning that Frank Mackey may make a reappearance in French's fifth Dublin Murder Squad novel.

A side note: Despite being marketed as a series, Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels are quite stand-alone, related only by a peripheral character in one of them making an appearance as a central character in another - so that you can pick up any one of them as your first Tana French experience. And you should - because they are great.

For other examples of me gushing over Tana French's novels, see my review of 'In the Woods, my review of 'The Likeness', my review of 'Broken Harbour', and my review of 'The Secret Place'. My review of the sixth book, The Trespasser, is here.
Profile Image for Matt.
3,820 reviews12.8k followers
February 12, 2017
Another stunning novel by Tana French has me rushing to ensure I will be able to continue my binge reading without interruption. After proving his worth as Cassie Maddox's handler in The Likeness, Francis 'Frank' Mackey is given his own novel, where the reader can explore the deep and emotionally-driven aspects of the man's life. At nineteen, Mackey and his sweetheart, Rosie Daly, planned to leave their dead-end lives in Dublin and cross over to England. When Rosie did not turn up at their rendezvous point, Mackey slumped back home, only to find a 'Dear John' letter, which explained that she chose to flee alone. Feeling jilted, Mackey ran off, never to look back on his family or the life he hoped to soon forget. Just over two decades later, Rosie's suitcase is found around the Mackey home and Frank's emotions come rushing back after a call from his kid sister. Soon a body is discovered that bears forensic similarities to young Rosie Daly and Mackey tries to weasel his way into the investigation, much to the dismay of Dublin Murder Squad star-detective, Scorcher Kennedy. Not only does Frank have to come to terms with the murder of his first love, but he also must return to face his family and the issues he thought he left in his past. If that were not enough, his closeness to the victim and surrounding area has Kennedy blocking his access at every turn. Remembering not only the lead-up to his planned departure with Rosie but also the struggles he faced growing up in a tenement house, Mackey vows never to let his own daughter bear witness to the depravation that almost crippled him, while he juggles processing his lot who have not matured in the two decades since his absence. With Rosie's killer potentially somewhere in the tenement project, someone else close to Mackey dies and all eyes shift on him. Could he have killed Rosie and then tried to cover-up when others began to poke around? Told in her brilliant form, French offers the reader a slow and methodical examination of a central theme while developing the story narrative throughout. A must-read for those who have tired from all the cookie-cutter "kill/search/find" police procedurals on the market today.

I am as gobsmacked as the next person that French has me speechless (save for this review) three books into the series. There is nothing commonplace about these books or the characters found herein. While I expected a series of cases with the same central murder squad, these books have taken twists and turns I could not have expected, pulling me well beyond simple admiration. This novel seeks to push away from the formal murder investigation as Frank Mackey takes the reins and does his own investigating, introducing readers to a handful (or a score, even) of local and less-refined Dubliners who have always lived in the shadows of tenement houses and blue-collar lives. French does not shy away from their boozing, beating, and belligerent nature, while shaping a story that uses this to her advantage. The narrative is slow as January molasses, but in so being, allows the reader to gaze at all that surrounds them and develop deeper bonds and curiosities. As with each novel, French offers a soap box for a central theme; this one being the role of family. Frank Mackey is forced to return to the childhood home and face the dysfunction that he sought to flee with two ferry tickets over to England. He must admit from where he has come while trying to shield his young daughter from mixing with his own blood. French effectively shows the less than desirable side of the Mackeys and the Dalys, but also the great socio-economic disparities in Dublin, without making a mockery of the entire thing. Class and standing play a central role in one's upbringing, but forgetting one's roots will never erase the past that has shaped the present. A stunning novel that has left me aching to get back over to Ireland sooner than later. I only hope the next story is as captivating, as I have discovered a pattern in French's choice in protagonists.

Kudos, Madam French for yet another wonderful novel. I do hope my friends and family will find your work as riveting as I have, as I speak about it on a daily basis.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
December 17, 2020
reading a book when you live in the city where the story takes places just hits differently, you know? it was such a treat reading about dublin because i can mentally visualise where the characters go, and have actually been to many of those places.

and while this installment of the dublin murder squad series isnt as suspenseful or mysterious as the previous two books, TFs writing is just as alluring, if not more. which is what made this story truly enjoyable for me.

i know TFs style isnt for everyone, especially this one. its very slow paced, a little dense at times, and the focus is much more on family dynamics rather than a crime, but like i said, the writing is the saving grace.

also, its nice that this can be read as a standalone and somewhat independent of the series, so its easy to recommend to readers who dont mind a relaxed story that focuses more on the effects of a crime on the characters rather than the crime itself.

4 stars
Profile Image for Candi.
622 reviews4,715 followers
September 4, 2017
"I waited there in the shadows, watching the plumes of smoke that my breath sent into the lamplight, while the bells tolled three and four and five. The night faded to a thin sad gray and round the corner a milk cart clattered over cobblestones towards the dairy, and I was still waiting for Rosie Daly at the top of Faithful Place."

Twenty-two years ago, at the age of nineteen, Detective Frank Mackey had a plan – a plan to escape his alcoholic father and dysfunctional family with the most enchanting girl ever to emerge from the squalor of the Liberties. But Rosie Daly never showed up and Frank turned his back on his family and his past forever. Until now, when a battered suitcase shows up at Number 16 Faithful Place, and Frank is sucked back into the Place, his memories, and his family all over again.

This book is the third in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad Series, and I have savored each one nearly equally. It’s not necessary to read them in order, although I find that I am doing so – more out of habit than anything else. We are introduced to Frank Mackey in book 2, The Likeness, although he doesn’t play the main role in that one as he does here in Faithful Place. A detective in the Dublin Undercover squad, Frank was a bit of a presumptuous jerk in The Likeness, to put it mildly. So I wasn’t sure what I would make of this one to be honest. I shouldn’t have worried because French is extremely adept at writing thoughtful and meticulous character studies that highlight the psychology and nuances of each person she brings to the page. Even if you despise them, you still grow to understand each character and his or her actions. I confess to feeling a deeper appreciation and even a slight fondness towards Frank – don’t get me wrong though, I’m not over the moon here! He’s still a ruthless wise guy, but I do like his brand of humor, and his interactions with his young daughter, Holly, won me over.

Frank can’t help becoming involved in the case, despite warnings from Detective Scorcher Kennedy of the Murder Squad to lay low and stay away. Frank runs his own unauthorized undercover investigation, while all the time scorning the practices of the other branch of the Dublin force. "If you want to hunt like a good little panting puppy dog, shooting off on the trail the second you’re let off the leash, you work Murder. If you want Undercover, and I always did, you learn to hunt the way big cats do: set up your ambush, stay low to the ground and move closer by hidden inches, for as long as it takes." The two units clash and add to the entertainment value of the plot.

The mystery itself is a bit understated and slow-moving; instead it’s the process of the investigation, the subtle revealing of characters’ motives and behaviors, and the interactions between each player that draws the reader into this one. The atmosphere and grittiness of the setting mingled with the sweetness, hopes and dreams of young lovers make for an absorbing read. This is a well-written series with an interesting look at Irish culture, fascinating and flawed narrators, an unexpected twist or two in the storyline, and typically a thrilling and intense scene towards the end of the book. Tana French is definitely on my list of favorite mystery writers, and I will read the rest of the series as well as anything else she might have up her sleeve!

"In all your life, only a few moments matter. Mostly you never get a good look at them except in hindsight, long after they’ve zipped past you…"
Profile Image for Christine.
596 reviews1,179 followers
June 24, 2018
4.5 stars (rounded to 5 stars)

I have now completed three Tana French novels this year. I wish I had an infinite supply of novels by this author to look forward to. I do believe she has become the best writer I follow. She has it all. She creates a powerful sense of place and ambience, her character development is second to none, and the stories she weaves are brilliantly poignant.

As a testimony to her phenomenalness (new word just for Tana), look how she picks her protagonists. She seems to pick a relatively unlikeable character from her previous book to be the narrator and central character of her next. With most authors, I would think that would backfire, especially with readers like me who require a bond with the lead cast member to enjoy a book. But I have such faith in Tana French that I am willing to go down her road. I did not like Frank Mackey in The Likeness. Not one bit. But there was no way I could abandon Tana, so I took a deep breath and went with it. Though Frank is still not my favorite character of all time, I now respect him and care enough for him to say I’m going to miss him. I feel I really know him and understand him after reading Faithful Place.

I knocked a half star off my rating as it took a while for me to engage in Frank’s story, expressly because I wasn’t his fan. I soon came over to his side and at that point went all in on the story. And what a story it is. So many themes, nearly all revolving around family. Desperation, fear, regret, ectasy, agony, love and hate. The what ifs, the coulda beens, the now whats.

The last 30% of the book is a glorious treasure trove of info dumping and character development. What a powerful combination in my eyes. Talk about being in the zone with a book. I didn’t want it to end.

So book #4 is featuring a character from Faithful Place who I don’t care one wit about. But I can’t wait to read it. Tana French is that good.

If you have not read Tana French, you are tragically missing out. I rounded my star rating to 5 stars as this book is so not a 4-star read. Of note, this particular installment can easily be read as a standalone. I don’t say that lightly as I am a strict read-in-order type of gal. But this book has absolutely nothing to do with Frank’s last case (The Likeness), which by the way could be my favorite book of all time. So no good reason to skip it. But if you want to read The Likeness, make sure you do read In the Woods first. Whatever you do, give this series a try.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,005 reviews10.6k followers
January 22, 2015
When Frank Mackey was 19, he planned to run away to London with his sweetheart, only she never showed up. Everyone assumed she ran away on her own, including Frank. Decades later, when her suitcase turns up in the chimney of a building being renovated, Frank returns to his old neighborhood to confront the possibility that Rosie Daly never left at all...

What would you be willing to die for? That's the question Frank Mackey's father asks him in his youth that sets the tone for most of the book. Another of the running themes is "no one can mess you up like your family can."

Faithful Place brings undercover cop Frank Mackey back to his old neighborhood and reunites him with the family he hasn't spoken to in decades. It didn't long for me to figure out why Frank is such a manipulative asshole. It runs in the blood.

The poor Dublin neighborhood Frank grew up in is one of the better-developed settings I've ever encountered. You can almost smell the desperation wafting off the pages. Frank's family is a well drawn bunch, all seeming like real people, warts and all.

The mystery itself was much easier to crack than in the previous two volumes. I guessed the killer based on a line he uttered somewhere in the first 30% of the story. Frank catching up with me was quite a ride. By the time I was finished, I was glad the sadness parade was over.

The third book in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series maintains the standard set by the previous two volumes. Tana French is quickly earning a place in my favorite authors list. Four out of five stars.
Profile Image for carol..
1,574 reviews8,228 followers
December 13, 2014
An unexpected pleasure. While French is ostensibly writing murder mysteries, she is also writing thoughtful psychological profiles of a detective heavily involved in the case. In Faithful Place we dive into Undercover Detective Frank's history, following him as he is drawn back into drama from a home he left decades ago. A suitcase discovered in an abandoned house opens up a host of memories and leads to the discovery of a dead woman. He finds very little of his dysfunctional family has changed, and resolves to leave them behind once more as soon as the case is in competent hands.

While the mystery pulls the reader in and subtly drives the plot, the focus is equally on character, relationships and setting. French is brilliant at capturing the mood of a place and time, wrapping it up in a small snow globe--and then shaking it up on the unfortunate lead character. It becomes evident that Frank is replicating many of his father's dysfunctional behaviors in his family interactions. Interestingly for me, I've been able to identify the murderer in both the books I've read. I've come to suspect this is deliberate on the part of French, giving the reader further insight into the lead's particular emotional short-sightedness, and building suspense around that fault line. It's an unusual and delicate narrative choice, but I think French handles it well without much loss of tension.

I wondered somewhat at some of the descriptive choices, especially musical, that clearly anchor the story to a specific place and time. The family discussing a potential national economic disaster stands out as well. Somehow it felt jarring more than evocative, but those instances were rare. My most serious quibble comes from the narrative voice; I found myself not entirely believing in Frank's narrative from the perspective of a middle-aged, rough-edged undercover cop. Mostly, I found myself wondering at dichotomy between the sensitivity and nostalgia of his memories, the fact that he seemed emotionally stuck at eighteen after a tragic first love, and his isolated, ruthless existence as a undercover detective. Scenes with his informant in the investigating squad came closest to the manipulation and ruthlessness I expected after reading The Likeness. Overall, however, the writing and character development shines, and I will undoubtedly read French's next book.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
January 4, 2018
Tana, dear, I’d like to buy you a pint.

Tana French’s 2010 entry in her Dublin Murder squad series is my favorite so far. Following the trend set in 2008’s The Likeness, this is not so much a sequel as a revisiting of the same setting. The protagonist of The Likeness was one of the characters in 2007’s In the Woods, but not the lead. Correspondingly, Frank Mackey, the hero here, was a character in The Likeness, but not the lead. I like how she is doing this and it makes me wonder whom will be her narrator in the next entry, 2012’s Broken Harbor.

Though her previous two books were set in Ireland and captured the heart and soul of that culture, she never got as close to brilliant characterization as she does here. These characters live and breathe and the dialogue seems spot on. When I get lost in a story, forgetting momentarily that I am reading, then that author is more than doing her job. French delivers.

Blending elements of James Joyce’s Dubliners short story “Eveline” and scenes from J.M. Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World, French describes a murder cold case that is personal to the hero. Frank Mackey left home more than 20 years ago and vowed to never go back. His was a stereotypical poor Irish Catholic dysfunctional family, with an alcoholic and abusive father and a long suffering, verbally abusive mother. His was the neighborhood that he did not want his current friends and associates to know from where he had come. So when a discovery brings him back, he finds himself and his daughter caught up in a hypnotically entertaining dramatic thriller.

The last quarter of the book was read in one sitting. The rain was falling in the twilight and I sat drinking a tumbler of Tullamore Dew while I was entranced and enthralled by French’s masterful storytelling ability.

Highly recommended.

Profile Image for Erin.
3,094 reviews484 followers
July 7, 2019
Fellow readers, gather round as I lead you into my book confessional. I absolutely love to dive into the narrative voice of a Tana French novel. Her Dublin Murder Squad series is fastly becoming the series that I want all my friends to read! BUT I want/need/ beg you to get your own, I just can't lend them to you. It's not that I'm selfish, we just all need to support the economy right now. Hehe...right? Seriously, this woman knows how to weave an Irish mystery tale and couple it with a rich family story with vibrant characters that are unforgettable.

Faithful Place refers to the Dublin neighborhood where the main protagonist, Frank Mackey, undercover cop and father of the most adorable little girl, Holly, finds himself returning to his past and his estranged family. At the center of the story is the reappearance of items belonging to Frank's first love, a young woman that Frank thought had run away to London without him. Frank, along with his grown siblings, and the Murder Squads Scorcher Kelly ( Broken Harbour, Book 4) begin to wonder what really happened to Rosie Daly?

Beautifully written, witty (and sometimes) dark humor, 400 pages of a Tana French novel appear to pass on the blink of an eye. Love, love, love this series!
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,945 followers
July 30, 2010
This is a murder mystery. Yes, it really is. Too bad the mystery gets pushed aside to make way for repetitive domestic fiction. Frank Mackey's family is of the Irish Catholic poorer class. The men are alcoholic and violent. The women are typical of any abusive family---placating, cowering, and above all, keeping the family secrets like good little enablers. Nothing new there. A bit of a snore, actually.

French's writing is up to its usual standards with regard to form, style, and dialogue. The Irish speech patterns here are interesting for those of us who don't read much from the more traditional Irish yarners. I love the way French's characters insult each other. And the line about ZZ Top had me laughing so hard I was snorting! Then I got a fit of the giggles and laughed till my ribs hurt.

Unfortunately, the plot execution in Faithful Place doesn't measure up to her previous work. She does finally come back around and let Mackey solve the mystery, but it's not a credit to the genre. I figured out early on who did it. It's so transparent that I thought surely I must be wrong. I wasn't. The "why" of the murder(s) is a little more interesting, but also somewhat predictable.

Oh, and Ms. French, the expression is "spit and image," not "spitting image." No expectorating relatives, please.
[If you are humor challenged, please don't bother leaving a comment telling me I'm wrong about this. I've already deleted two snootyboots comments to this effect. Just lighten up and stop taking yourself and everyone else so seriously.]
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
499 reviews855 followers
December 30, 2016
If you asked me today who my favorite authors are, with thousands waiting for me to discover, I'd reply, "John Steinbeck, Flannery O'Connor, Elmore Leonard, Stephen King and Tana French." The novel that puts French in that sentence is Faithful Place. The American born (in 1973, younger than me) resident of Dublin had already written two great murder mysteries narrated by detectives of the Dublin Murder Squad. With her third novel, published in 2010, French embraces the qualities of her previous work -- intimacy, secrecy, history, betrayal, redemption -- and surpasses even the high standard those books established.

In this follow-up to In the Woods and The Likeness, French continues her unique pattern of retrieving a supporting character from her previous novel and casting them as the narrator of the sequel. Faithful Place centers on Detective Frank Mackey, a legend in the Undercover Squad who's outlived his efficiency as a field agent in Ireland and is running operations now. Frank is introduced on a Friday afternoon in December doing paperwork and preparing for his weekend with his nine-year-old daughter Holly, who lives with Frank's divorced wife Olivia in Dalkey.

Frank grew up in a small Dublin neighborhood called Faithful Place. At age nineteen, he left without so much as a goodbye. He's kept in touch with his kid sister Jackie but stayed estranged from his parents and other siblings, refusing to expose his daughter to the mental asylum he ran out on. This changes when Jackie phones Frank in hysterics. Builders working in a vacant building up the road have discovered a suitcase that belonged to Rose Daly, Frank's first love. Rosie disappeared in 1985 on the night she'd planned to run away to London with Frank, who's always assumed his gal had a change of heart and left the country without him.

French sets her mystery into motion with all the color, wit and mystique we'd expect of her streetwise characters.

You won't find Faithful Place unless you know where to look. The Liberties grew on their own over centuries, without any help from urban planners, and the Place is a cramped cul-de-sac tucked away in the middle like a wrong turn in a maze. It's a ten-minute walk from Trinity College and the snazzy shopping on Grafton Street, but back in my day, we didn't go to Trinity and Trinity types didn't come up our way. The area wasn't dodgy, exactly--factory workers, bricklayers, bakers, dole bunnies, and the odd lucky bastard who worked in Guinness's and got health care and evening classes--just separate.

The Liberties got their name, hundreds of years ago, because they went their own way and made their own rules. The rules in my road went like this: if your mate gets into a fight, you stick around to drag him off as soon as you see blood, so no one loses face; you leave the heroin to them down in the flats; even if you're an anarchist punk rocker this month, you go to Mass on Sunday; and no matter what, never, ever squeal on anyone.

The Place is two rows of eight houses, including one still occupied by Frank's controlling Ma, his infirm and alcoholic Da and his older brother Shay, who resents being left behind to look after the other two. Frank's older sister Carmel is married with four kids and a wide arse. Frank's kid brother Kevin is a bachelor who sells electronics and is as eager as a pup to formalize relations with Frank. Jackie is a hairdresser with a live-in boyfriend. She's kept Frank updated about everyone, but with most of the people he grew up with petty criminals, few if any want to know Frank these days.

Opening his ex-girlfriend's suitcase, Frank finds clothes, cassette tapes, a Sony Walkman he'd saved up to buy her, birth certificate and their ferry tickets. On the night they were set to leave, Rose never showed up at their prearranged meeting point and Frank searched for her in the vacant Number 16, where kids hung out to do anything they couldn't get away with at home. Frank found a note on the floor from Rose in which she apologized for leaving and he'd always assumed was meant for him. Her suitcase was found by the builders stuffed into the fireplace.

Hunting for clues, Frank takes the suitcase to the Dalys and brings Kevin along to assist him. Rose's younger sister Nora is happy to see Frank again, while her skittish Ma and temperamental Pa blame Frank for taking Rose away from them. Still a missing persons case if anything, Frank talks the Dalys into letting him make inquiries into Rose's disappearance. He then talks Kevin into returning to the derelict Number 16 for a look. The building has always scared Kevin, especially the damp and foul smelling basement. When Kevin verifies that smell began around the time Rose left, Frank phones a Technical Unit.

Because the book is subtitled Dublin Murder Squad #3, it's no spoiler to add that Rose Daly's disappearance does not remain a missing persons case. Running the investigation is Detective Mick Kennedy, a chum from Mackey's cop college days whose competitive streak prompted Frank to nickname him "Scorcher." A laser beam of ambition who's proud of his high solve rate, Scorcher wants to make sure that Frank stays a team player. That doesn't happen. Frank locates Rose's two best friends, Imelda Tierney and Mandy Cullen, certain that someone else knew she was going to be in that building in 1985.

Tana French's fiction surpasses mass entertainment to reveal aspects of the world that had previously been hidden from me, Irish culture and murder investigation being two key areas. Bending an ear to the hunters at the forefront of her stories, we learn things. As a storyteller, French's confidence is off the charts. One of the delights of Faithful Place is how Frank Mackey contrasts the techniques of the Murder Squad with those practiced by his squad, the UCD. The detectives are opposed in skill, temperament and philosophy and didn't choose their squads so much as those squads chose them.

If Scorch wants into a suspect's house, he fills in a square mile of paperwork and waits for the rubber stamps and assembles the appropriate entry team so no one gets hurt; me, I bat the baby-blues, spin a good story and waltz right in, and if the suspect should decide he wants to kick the shit out of me, I'm on my own. This was about to work for me. Scorch was used to fighting by the rules. He took it for granted that, with the odd minor bad-little-boy breach, I fought the same way. It would take a while to occur to him that my rules had sweet fuck-all in common with his.

A candidate for prick of the year, Frank Mackey is not a character I was thrilled to discover I was going to spend 400 pages with. Mackey handles people like they were combustible materials in a lab, but he's a skilled chemist. One, it's fun to read about characters who are good at their work. Two, French keeps Mackey one step ahead of the reader, rather than the other way around (person lousy at their job.) Three, the setting is intimate. I'm not a fan of novels set in The Old Neighborhood that lurk in the past rather than take me somewhere in the present. French makes the familiar lethal, springing more traps on Mackey at a family gathering than he'd face in a terrorist cell.

I related to In the Woods beyond its construction as a police procedural because what French was really writing about was the elusive nature of friendships and the emotional damage inflicted when those relationships end. The Likeness, despite its female narrator, was cool and removed, given that the suspects were mostly postgrads at Trinity College. Faithful Place throws us back into an emotional minefield. French isn't writing about a murder case, she's writing about how we hurt those closest to us -- family -- and no matter how badly we'd like not to, will do so again. I could relate to this.

There's something I enjoy even more than watching an author load her quill with arrows and that's when she reaches back for those arrows, aims and fires away. Nothing is spared in this novel in terms of information. In a lot of other books, Mackey's kid Holly would be a clue provider or a victim, something to motivate Mackey and be discarded the moment he moved on to the next plot point. Here, the cop's kid is . Like the characters on the Murder Squad, French is an expert in her field and one of the great hunters of her genre.
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,943 followers
January 14, 2013
I enjoyed very much Tana French's first two novels, In the Woods and The Likeness, but I think that this book, her third, is by far her best work. It's another atmospheric character-driven story, featuring Frank Mackey, the Dublin police detective that French first introduced in The Likeness.

As a nineteen-year-old boy, Mackey was living in Faithful Place, one of Dublin's poorer neighborhoods, jammed into a tiny home with his brothers, sisters and ever-battling parents. It was a grim, depressing place, and few people ever seemed to escape from it. The culture of poverty being what it is, most of the young people in Faithful Place simply grew up to turn into their parents.

Young Frank, though, was desperately in love with Rosie Daly, a neighbor whose father forbid the romance, assuming that his own family, poor as it might be, was well above the Mackeys. Frank and Rosie determined to escape their families and their destinies by running away to London. They saved their money, bought the tickets, and on the night they were to leave, Frank sneaked out of his house to wait for Rosie.

She never showed up.

Late that night, Frank found a note from Rosie, apparently intended for him, indicating that she had decided to leave alone. Broken hearted, Frank never returned home but rather left without a word himself and ultimately wound up in the Guard, the Dublin police force, something that would have made him an outcast in his old neighborhood and in his family as well.

Frank married, had a child of his own, and divorced without ever telling his family of the marriage or the child. Now, twenty-two years after that fateful night, Frank's sister Jackie, the one family member with whom he has remained in contact, calls him to say that Rosie Daly's suitcase has been found in an abandoned home in Faithful Place.

The discovery upends Frank's life. For all those years he assumed that Rosie had simply ditched him and gone to England alone. But the discovery of the suitcase suggests that something much different might have happened.

For the first time after all those years, Frank returns home to examine the suitcase and launch a personal investigation into Rosie's disappearance. Once again, he find himself deeply immersed in the affairs of the dysfunctional family into which he was born and from which he thought he had escaped forever. And along the way, he will discover some hard, shocking truths about himself and the people of Faithful Place.

In addition to being a compelling suspense novel, this book is a powerful meditation on the nature of family life and on the obligations that one either assumes or has forced upon him simply by the act of being born into a family. It's beautifully written with great characters and it's hard to imagine any reader that would not treasure this book. I can hardly wait to get my hands on Tana French's next novel.
Profile Image for Jen.
135 reviews224 followers
July 22, 2021
Twenty-two years ago Frank Mackey planned to sneak off in the middle of the night with his teenage love, Rosie Daly. He was escaping a dysfunctional home with an alcoholic and abusive father. Rosie was running away from a controlling father, hell-bent against her relationship with Frank, and a life she knew would end up with her in a dead end job if she stayed. But when Rosie was nowhere to be found the night of their escape, only leaving a goodbye note in her place, Frank took off anyway, starting his life over and only looking back for fleeting moments by keeping in touch with one of his sisters. Everything he thought he knew gets turned upside down when looting from a construction site turns up Rosie’s suitcase, hidden and buried all these years. He’s spent his entire adult life thinking she left him behind, but what if Rosie never made it out of their hometown at all..?

I’d barely classify this as a mystery to be honest. There is an element of mystery there, but many readers will figure this one out on their own quite early on. That’s not what this story is about, nor is it the draw. Instead, like every Tana French book I have read so far, this is a story about a character, and about the people around them, and about how the mystery affects them. This is also the least “police procedural” of the three books so far in the series, which makes sense, with Frank coming from years and years in the undercover unit (procedure, what is that?) and because the crime is so close to him. He can’t officially investigate it with that kind of conflict of interest, so the official investigation becomes a background note in Frank's story, if not a hindrance at times.

Instead we have a family drama, where years and years of buried secrets will come bubbling to the surface. What if your childhood memories are only half the story? What if you haven’t the faintest idea about the motivations and resentments of the parents and siblings you haven’t spoken to in years? What if you ran away to avoid becoming like your father, but didn’t succeed as well as you thought?

There are some books where the plot is the main draw, and the world it’s set in is serviceable, but unremarkable. And then there’s a Tana French book, where you feel like you’ve been dropped into a fully formed universe and every single person is so real you could almost reach out and touch them. There’s a chapter/scene in this book where a group of siblings get together at a bar, and what a masterclass. You could read only that chapter and walk away with a pretty full understanding of each sibling's personality, their relationships with each other, and how their traumatic childhood and following years of tension have affected their family dynamic and life trajectories.

This was my favorite of the Dublin Murder Squad series so far, and no one is more surprised than me that I am going to miss Frank Mackey so much. Normally a perk of a series is that you get to continue on with the characters you’ve grown attached to. But not Dublin Murder Squad, oh no. Just as I’m really invested in someone, they’re ripped away from me, and we’re onto another book and another person’s story. But that’s also the genius of it. Every single character is written with the kind of depth where they *could* be that next book’s focus. And, no one is given enough time to lose their way or be written into sloppy characterization corners. Tana French, you are a smart woman. And I can’t wait to see whose head you'll have me jumping into next.
Profile Image for RH Walters.
765 reviews13 followers
August 15, 2010
What French does best is ally you with her character's deepest wishes, and I was very involved emotionally in her other stories. When Rob in In The Woods desperately tried to solve the mystery of his own childhood the forest seemed to breathe back at him, and when Cassie in The Likeness fell in love with a utopian country house and its creators I understood her desire to stay and belong. Frank, on the other hand, is a swaggering divorced cop with an estranged family and lost first love, but what he misses in this story is his divorced wife and child, cutting off the powerful melancholy that French harnessed in her other work. French's strength as a mystery writer is her nuanced characters and layers of understanding, but as they were lacking in this story it was doubly disappointing to figure out the killer early, which incidentally never happens for me. I hope her next story about Scorcher Kennedy is more personal for her and for us.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,324 reviews2,145 followers
February 6, 2017
The first part of this book is actually quite slow, plus it's pretty thick and for a while there I felt I was getting nowhere fast. Then it suddenly took off and became unputdownable.
However I had one major irritation with it.
All that apart it is an excellent story, well told and full of interesting characters. I suspected the actual murderer from almost the start of the book and was satisfied when I found myself to be correct:) Well worth reading if you enjoy mystery and crime.
Profile Image for Diane.
1,081 reviews2,719 followers
November 20, 2017
Tana French's books are so good they can always pull me out of a reading slump.

"Faithful Place" is the third book in her Dublin Murder Squad series, and it centers on the life of Detective Frank Mackey, an undercover officer who has a reputation for breaking the rules. One of the things I enjoy about this series is that each book focuses on a different character, and someone who has a minor role in one book could be the main person in another book. (And if you're new to this series, you don't have to read them in chronological order. You can skip around.) So I have memories of the trash-talking, manipulative Frank from the second book, "The Likeness," which focuses on a female undercover officer, Cassie. But in this third installment in the series, we get a better understanding of Frank's hardscrabble childhood and why he acts so tough all the time.

This novel fosters more sympathy for Frank, whose heart was broken when he was 19. He and his girlfriend, Rosie, were going to run away to London together, but the night they were supposed to meet, she never showed up. Decades later, Frank hears news of Rosie, and it forces him to return home to Faithful Place and figure out what really happened that night. He also has to reckon with his family, including those who never forgave him for becoming a cop.

Aside from good storytelling and psychological suspense, Tana French's books are a delight to read because they are so well-written. When talking about these books with friends, I describe them as literary mysteries because the writing is so strong. These are great books to have around when you need a reading rescue. Highly recommended!

Favorite Quotes
"In all your life, only a few moments matter. Mostly you never get a good look at them except in hindsight, long after they've zipped past you: the moment when you decided whether to talk to that girl, slow down on that blind bend, stop and find that condom. I was lucky, I guess you could call it. I got to see one of mine face-to-face, and recognize it for what it was. I got to feel the riptide pull of my life spinning around me, one winter night, while I waited in the dark at the top of Faithful Place."

"My father once told me that the most important thing every man should know is what he would die for. If you don't know that,, he said, what are you worth? Nothing. You're not a man at all. I was thirteen and he was three quarters of the way into a bottle of Gordon's finest, but hey, good talk. As far as I could recall, he was willing to die a) for Ireland, b) for his mother, who had been dead for ten years, and c) to get that bitch Maggie Thatcher."

"Here's the real risk in Undercover, in the field and out: you create illusions for long enough, you start thinking you're in control. It's easy to slide into believing you're the hypnotist here, the mirage master, the smart cookie who knows what's real and how all the tricks are done. The fact is you're still just another slack-jawed mark in the audience. No matter how good you are, this world is always going to be better at this game. It's more cunning than you are, it's faster and it's a whole lot more ruthless. All you can do is try to keep up, know your weak spots and never stop expecting the sucker punch."
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
March 2, 2011
As seen on The Readventurer

It might be a strange thing to say about a murder mystery/psychological thriller, but Faithful Place is a very romantic book.

You see, Frank Mackey here investigates the disappearance of his first love who he for over 20 years thought dumped him and ran away to England. The whole narrative is laced with Frank's memories of Rosie and their teenage romance. I didn't quite expect it, but the story gave me goosebumps like only a very few teen novels about first love ever did. This is probably the main reason why Faithful Place is my favorite of Tana French's novels, at least for now.

The other reason is Frank. I love his voice, he is funny and sarcastic and can bullshit people into doing just about anything. He is also vulnerable and fragile and damaged. Who doesn't like reading about a man like that?

And then there is Frank's family. They are a group of sad cases and yet, strangely, they all are lovable and relatable in some strange way, even the worst of them.

Finally, my last "plus" - out of all 3 books in the series, Faithful Place is the most "Irish." It gives a very honest and often harsh view of the working class living in Ireland. Not quite the picture you get after reading Fever books.

On the other hand, the mystery in this novel is probably the most straight-forward and obvious. I knew (well, guessed right) the perp probably by the middle.

It doesn't take away, however, from the fact that Faithful Place is, if not a strong mystery, a very personal, very nostalgic, very tender story...

Profile Image for Jadranka.
240 reviews127 followers
May 1, 2019
"Faithful Place" (u izdanju na srpski jezik kao "Kobno mesto") treći je roman u serijalu Dublin Murder Squad, irske autorke Tane French. Frenchova je za proteklih par godina postala moja omiljena autorka psiholoških triler romana, u kojima neopisivo uživam. Razlog za to je pre svega njen jedinstveni stil, pristup temi koju obrađuje i savršena karakterizacija likova, bez koje smatram da ni ne vredi pisati trilere - a u čemu ona apsolutno dominira.
I "Kobno mesto" kao i prethodna dva romana, odlikuje spora i razvučena radnja, ali upravo to i daje poseban šarm i unosi potrebnu dozu neizvesnoti.
U ovom romanu narator je jedan od autorkinih najbolje portretisanih likova do sada, Frensis (Frenk) Maki, detektiv Tajne jedinice dablinske policije.
Nemam nameru da iznosim bilo kakve spojlere, pa bez straha možete nastaviti sa čitanjem ovog prikaza :)
Dakle, Frenk potiče iz radničke irske porodice, oduvek je želeo nešto više od života i to nešto je i našao. Ali, 22 godine kasnije, prošlost sa svim svojim avetima je pokucala na njegova vrata. Misteriozna sudbina dvoje mladih ljubavnika, dovoljno hrabrih da poveruju da mogu sve samo ako su zajedno, promeniće sudbine čitavog kraja iz koga su potekli - Fejtful Plejsa.
Frenchova na sjajan način dočarava irski duh, kao i život radničkih porodica koji sastavljaju kraj sa krajem od prvog do prvog u mesecu, sklonost ka alkoholu, nasilje u porodici, veliki broj dece, i okrenutost Bogu. Njeni junaci, heroji i antiheroji, zlikovci, ljudi su od krvi i mesa, kojih ima u svakom sokaku i ulici.
Frenk Maki, kao pripovedač u ovom romanu, izdominirao je od prve do poslednje stranice. Postepeno, mic po mic, čovek mi se prikrao i uvukao pod kožu, tako da sam tamo oko 200. stranice imala osećaj kao da smo stari drugari iz kraja koji se dugo nisu videli, ali koji bi nastavili sa pričom kad bi se sreli. U jednom trenutku sam imala utisak da bih Frenka mogla da prepoznam na ulici kada bih ga srela (da, znam da je reč o izmišljenom liku :)).
Frenk mi je najdraži lik iz ovog serijala, pun mana, tvrdoglav (tačnije bandoglav), ali jedan od onih junaka koji i dalje duboko u sebi veruje u pravdu, iako dobro zna da je ta Dama odavno slepa. Znate već, jedan od onih tipova koje biste voleli da imate na svojoj strani za slučaj da stvari postanu gadne. Sledeća rečenica možda na najbolji način opisuje tu njegovu pomalo iščašenu prirodu koju ne možeš da ne voliš:"Mnogi su mi govorili - poneki čak u pohvalnom smislu - da imam od Boga dar da ubijem ljude u pojam; a to što možeš raditi nepoznatima nije ništa u poređenju sa onim što možeš raditi rodu rođenom."
Nadam se da ćemo Frenki i ja nastaviti druženje u nekom od narednih romana Tane French.
Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,389 reviews1,469 followers
March 31, 2019
Faithful Place is a mystery and the backstory of Frank Mackey, the undercover agent readers first met in The Likeness.

Honestly, I didn't like him, as a character, very much in the last book. This installment gave me understanding about why he's so gruff and generally unkind. A difficult and abusive childhood has taken its toll on him.

There's also the small matter of a broken heart over his teenage sweetheart, who never showed up the night they were going to run away together.

"The night faded to a thin sad gray and round the corner a milk cart clattered over cobblestones towards the dairy, and I was still waiting for Rosie Daly at the top of Faithful Place." pg 13, ebook

But it turns out, Frank's past isn't as straight forward as all that. And that's what he discovers in this book.

"No matter how good you are, this world is always going to be better at this game. It's more cunning than you are, it's faster and it's a whole lot more ruthless. All you can do is try to keep up, know your weak spots and never stop expecting the sucker punch." pg 14, ebook

The Dublin Murder Squad series continues to surprise me with how much I enjoy it. Tana French is a master at building suspense throughout the stories. Her world doesn't get stale because you (at least so far) follow a different character in each tale, learning a bit more about them, and then moving on to the next character.

"I was right to enjoy the normal world while I had it. Deep down, even while I was shaking my fist at the sky and vowing never to darken the cobbles of that hellhole again, I must have known the Place was going to take that as a challenge." pg 141, ebook

French manages to convey visceral and surprising emotions in her stories, which I love. It makes the hair raise on my arms and gives me goosebumps. I find myself thinking about key plot points when I wake up in the middle of the night, wondering what's going to happen next. Not many books have that effect on me.

Her characters are complex. They're not angels, but they're not demons. They're something in between, very human, and they feel completely real.

"If you don't know this by now, mate, you'd better write it down and learn it by heart: the right thing is not always the same as what's in your pretty little rule book." pg 158, ebook

And there's always a moment in her novels, or sometimes two moments, that flips the story on its head. In this one, when that moment came, I had to read the passage twice and I even said aloud, "You're kidding, right?"

Now, you don't know this about me, but I am a completely silent reader. I never talk to the books. French has made me into one of "those" readers — a talking reader. That's a pretty big deal.

Recommended for readers who like their mysteries to be thrilling and books that draw you in so much that you forget the real world for a time.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,773 reviews1,771 followers
December 4, 2019
December 2019 re-read: This was even better the second time. I think this might actually be the most balanced of all the books, in terms of tragedy vs. hope. In the Woods is just tragic all around, as is Broken Harbour, and The Likeness is still too full of Cassie's grief over her partnership/friendship with Rob, and with what happens in the actual book, for it to feel much like a win when she gets proposed to by Sam. But here, devastating things happen to Frank (happened to Frank 22 years ago), and Frank keeps going, and Frank learns. And despite the heartbreaking events of the book, he's in a better place than he was at the start.

I'd honestly forgotten just how heartbreaking what happens here is. The first time around I was a bit preoccupied with Frank and his family dynamic. This time, I really focused on everything that had been lost: Frank's future with Rosie, Rosie's entire future as a living person, the future he threw away with Olivia and Holly (), all the lost potential of people inside Faithful Place, Shay's preoccupation with what other people have that he doesn't, and of course beautiful Kevin. That one hit me harder this time because I forgot it happened and I got attached to him all over again.

There's a moment at the end of the book where Shay and Frank have a conversation, where Shay insists Frank is just like him, but that's manifestly not true. Shay let his circumstances break him, and he in turn broke others. Frank uses his heartbreak and the things he lost as motivation to make the best of what he still has. Also, Frank got out. Maybe that was selfish, and maybe what Shay is really angry about is that he didn't have the guts to be that selfish and take his life for his own.

There's so much in here about conflicting desires, what you have to give up for others, and what you need to own for yourself. It's just such a good book.

August 2015: It's not entirely hyperbole when I say that Tana French is magic. When I'm reading her books, more than with any other author I've ever read, I feel ensorcelled. Like, I'm being pulled in to the book with ropes that have been tied around my emotions, and it's entirely not in my control how much I'm allowed to be inside the story. Her books are wrenching. So much humanity in there. Joy and suffering and pain and longing and regret. All at the same time. Plus a murder mystery!

I'm almost more impressed with her after reading this book. It was easy to get me to fall in love with Rob and Cassie in their respective books (In the Woods and The Likeness), but Detective Frank Mackey rubbed me the wrong way from the get go back from when we first met him in The Likeness. So the fact that I was so emotionally invested in his story by the end of this book, had in fact fallen a little bit in love with him and his messed up family, is probably the best testament to her writing and character work that I can give. I also found the story she was writing this time to be a more uncomfortable experience, and I tend to shy away from those as a reader. So again, the fact that I gobbled this book up like it was ice cream says something about her skills.

Nominally, this is a story about Frank finally coming to terms with the disappearance of the love of his life. Rosie Daly and Frank Mackey planned to run away to London when they were nineteen, but on the night they were set to leave, Rosie never showed up, and Frank assumed she'd gone without him. He never got over her leaving him. Only, now that her suitcase has been found in an abandoned house on the street where he grew up, it seems the story of what actually happened to Rosie Daly is still a mystery. I say nominally, because this isn't just a story about a guy getting over his murdered girlfriend and solving her murder. It goes a lot deeper than that. This is really a story about coming to terms with the things you wanted but will never have. It's a story about knowing when to stop fighting, and what happens if you don't.

I can't sing the praises of these books loudly enough. I can't believe it took me so long to finally start reading them. I can't believe I only have one more left to read.

[4.5 stars]
Profile Image for Brenda.
725 reviews146 followers
July 5, 2015
I've now read the first three books in the Dublin Murder Squad, and this is the best so far. It's not necessary to read the first two before reading this one, and if you want a really great book, go ahead and skip right to this one. I was absolutely taken by Francis (Frank) Mackey. I got to know his friends, his family, his life. Dialogue was top-notch, from the heart, and often so freaking funny! I found myself reading with an accent! I love Tana French's turn of phrase: Ma grabbed the "soft skin of Frank's arm with a lobster pinch." He caught "his sister's eye and sent her the superurgent sibling distress signal." I also became immersed in the culture of Faithful Place, with noisy, nosey neighbors, dysfunctional families hiding secrets, and teens trying to escape dismal lives. What happened to Rosie Daly is the biggest secret, and Frank does eventually put all the pieces together.
Profile Image for Tammy.
523 reviews438 followers
February 7, 2019
In the third novel of Dublin Murder series, Detective Frank Mackey and his shambles of a family take center stage. Against his better judgment, he returns to his roots in the poverty stricken area of inner city Dublin known as Faithful Place. In 1985 he was unceremoniously dumped by his first love after she ran off without him on the night they were due to escape to London together. All these years later, her suitcase is found and Frank is back in the middle of familial and neighborhood hell. This novel is complicated, hard boiled and absorbing. I did take issue with Frank’s daughter thinking something through that went well beyond her years. As always, French’s characters were authentic and their interactions completely believable.
Profile Image for Left Coast Justin.
418 reviews89 followers
November 3, 2022
This was the fourth, and my favorite, of Tana French's books that I've read. Not favorite in the sense that I actually enjoyed it, but in the sense that it made my world larger (and much much nastier, but also filagreed with hope and gratitude).

Dramatis Personae
-Francis 'Frank' Mackey, introduced in The Likeness as a manipulative, driven, borderline-Machiavellian boss;
-Holly, his nine-year-old daughter, and Olivia 'Liv,' his ex-wife;
-Carmel and Jackie, his sisters, both of whom are saints, in the context of this book;
-Kevin and Shay, his brothers, the first of whom is surprisingly normal and the second of whom is Frank squared;
-Frank's Mammy and Da
-Rosie, Mandy and Imelda, childhood friends
-Stephen Moran and Scorcher Kennedy, fellow cops, mostly required by the story to move essential plot points along
-A couple of dozen other characters, most of whom play small but vividly-rendered roles

I am focusing on the characters instead of the plot because the plot, as usual, is only a mechanism for getting these characters to interact. To interact in, shall-we-say, interesting ways. As a character study, there is a huge hole in the center of the book, a hole into which French uncharacteristically sprinkles in only a couple of shovelsful of dirt, and that is the character of Jimmy Mackey, aka Da. I can only speculate about the reasons for this, but I suspect that French really feels deeply for all her characters, and gets even more deeply into their heads than we, the readers, do. But even she has her limits: So despicable, so slimy is this man that she just cannot bring herself to interact with him any more than absolutely necessary. But when all is said and done, it is he that is the most clearly-identifiable cause for the ruination of a family and the better part of the entire neighborhood. I am glad, at the end, not to have had to spend more time with him.

The remaining characters cope as best they can. To the classic menu of Fight-or-Flight is added Tolerate. Humans can put up with enormous stresses by pretending they don't exist. Our main character Frank chose to flee as soon as he was able, but maintained one thin umbilicus through his sister Jackie back to the old neighborhood. This slender thread becomes a tentacle that pulls him, and his daughter, back to the dreary street he grew up on and its horrific history.

With fleeing no longer an option, Frank must now choose between Fight and Tolerate. No prizes for guessing which route he takes; the only question is how much damage he will cause, and to whom. When the tense threads holding the neighborhood in equilibrium are snapped, the entire structure collapses into smoking rubble, and maybe--just maybe--life will get a little better for the survivors. This is in many ways the same story arc of Frodo in Lord of the Rings, but this is a very different book, and whatever Frank Mackey is, he ain't no Frodo.

I am doing myself no favors by disclosing that, of all the French characters I've encountered so far, I felt closest in spirit to Frank. I am grateful to have a wonderful family and to never have had to face the choices that Frank has. At the end of the day, I admire him.

This is a great book.
Profile Image for Caroline .
429 reviews593 followers
October 28, 2022

Book three in the Dublin Murder Squad mystery series is the fourth I’ve read, having jumped ahead a bit before coming back to read this one. I shouldn’t have bothered. Faithful Place exists to flesh out the character of detective Frank Mackey, who has a notable presence in books one and two but isn’t spotlighted. It turns out Frank is better out of the spotlight, because whereas he’s a gruffly charming character in those books, he’s outright detestable in Faithful Place. To make matters worse, the mystery is ho-hum and left to simmer on the back burner for most of the book. I even hesitate to describe Faithful Place as a mystery. It’s more like a literary fiction about a miserable, very dysfunctional family--in other words, people to avoid. Yet Tana French thought it would be a good idea to plunge her readers into this world, that her readers would actually find it, and these people, entertaining.

The story whisks readers back to Frank’s distant past, when he was eighteen and planning to run away to England with the love of his life, Rosie Daly. But on the day they’re set to leave, Rosie never shows up, and a devastated Frank assumes she ran away without him. Aside from a few misdirects and some small complications, it’s a run-of-the-mill mystery. The answer to whodunit is interesting but not stunning. The mystery itself probably consumes about one hundred pages of Faithful Place; the rest is an incredible amount of padding: Frank at a wake interacting with his horrible family; Frank having a heart-to-heart with his ex-wife; Frank explaining a complicated situation (times four) to his young daughter; Frank shooting the shit at a pub (times…five or six or seven); Frank harassing neighbors; Frank chit-chatting with his sister; and on and on. During all this, the mystery is either totally dead in the water or just treading. If French had dreamt up a less basic mystery, she wouldn’t have needed to stretch the story to novel length with nonsense that doesn’t have any bearing on the core mystery.

My main criticism, though, is of Frank himself. As far as most likable characters go in this series, he has decent competition, but he does stand out favorably in books one and two. Here, he’s unrecognizable, devoid of all charm and just vile. He’s a cop without ethics, at one point . His conversations, especially with family members, are vulgar, sexist, and brash, often peppered with offensive comments regarding certain women’s appearances. He’s a drunk and a manipulator. Some scenes showing his loving interactions with his daughter are maybe supposed to make up for such awfulness, but his behavior is too repulsive to be forgiven so easily. I’ll never view this character the same way again, and I wonder whether French was expecting readers to excuse all this as, “that’s just Frank being Frank; deep down, he has a good heart” or something else along these lines. If so, she was dead wrong. It’s impossible to think warmly of Frank after reading Faithful Place.

The only thing this book really has going for it is what French has become known for: extremely strong character voices and characterization. Readers are often awed by how authentic and real French’s characters sound, particularly her male characters, and I share in that awe. Her ability to characterize through dialogue alone is some of the best, if not the best, I’ve ever read. If it were revealed that the dialogue here is actually a transcript, it wouldn’t be surprising. That actually would make more sense.

All in all, Faithful Place is a story of aggression and misery playing out in a bleak, run-down environment. The absence of the more likable characters from books one and two is acutely felt. Horrible Frank needs counter-balancing, to make the story richer and more engrossing and to just give readers a break. Although it’s a plus that the books can be read as stand-alones, that’s too much the case for Faithful Place, and it doesn’t feel like a true part of the Dublin Murder Squad series.

I recommend fans of this series skip Faithful Place. The plot is especially encapsulated, with no references to anything that happened in the two books before it, and also no characters from any of those two. Oddly, Frank comes across as unemployed in this book. He doesn’t interact much with anyone else on the squad or even spend much time inside the headquarters. What happens in the next book, Broken Harbor, also references little, if anything, in this book.

For the unbelievably vivid speech and characterization, Faithful Place deserves two stars, but as a mystery writer, French has got to hone her storytelling pacing. This is an excruciatingly slow, supremely unexciting mystery. She's just too in love with the sentence. Her series has a reputation for being more literary than the average mystery series, and I appreciate, even prefer that, but here, she repeatedly forgot that she was writing a mystery. Maybe if readers approach Faithful Place instead expecting a portrait of a broken family, it might be a satisfying read, because it definitely isn’t a thrill.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,096 reviews17.7k followers
June 4, 2022
Faithful Place is perhaps the most heartwrenching of this series. Follows Dublin Murder Squad Detective Frank as he tracks the disappearance of his first love, Rosie. Though Frank is a character who’s hard to love from the start, frustrating to follow and manipulative. Yet his definition is so clear, his motives so easy to sympathize with, that you can’t help but root for him, weep for him, tunnel inside his head. The writing of this series is so addictive, but this one more than any made me emotional—caring not just for whodunit and whydunit, but for the consequences it would hold. Though I guessed the solution, it was a fantastic read nonetheless. And I’ll be thinking about the very end for a long, long time.

Overall, this was so good. I’m scratching at the walls.

Dublin Murder Squad: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 [TK] | 6

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Profile Image for Victoria.
412 reviews327 followers
March 14, 2021
Nobody in the world can make you crazy like your family can.

In all your life, only a few moments matter. Mostly you never get a good look at them except in hindsight, long after they've zipped past you…I was lucky, I guess you could call it. I got to see one of mine face-to-face, and recognize it for what it was.

With thousands of reviews, there is not much I can add but to say that I think this is the best of the six installments in the Dublin squad series. There is something for everyone here…mystery, murder, family trauma/dysfunction, long lost dreams and small town secrets abound.

This book nestles right in the middle of the series, one I’d previously missed, but one I made room for after reading her complex standalone, The Searcher, which has many of the same qualities. I was also reminded of Jane Harper’s The Lost Man, not in a derivative way, only in its intricate narrative structure and characterization. To be clear, this one came first. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,173 reviews8,386 followers
May 13, 2018
This series is just brilliant! I think Tana French thrives when she focuses on the interior lives of her protagonists, rather than focusing solely on the procedural aspects of the crimes. This was a perfect blend of that and it was so much fun to read but also heartbreaking. I love complex, emotional stories and mysteries so she delivered with this one. Better than book 1 but not quite as good as book 2. Still highly recommend this series though. 4.5 stars
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