The Pequod Review:
Tana French’s Dublin-based crime novels are some of the richest works of modern fiction. They are not just excellent detective stories or police procedurals, but they are also intelligent family dramas and even social/political dramas. Her best book so far is Faithful Place (2010), a murder mystery that explores how the enormous economic changes in modern Ireland have impacted family structures and working-class life.
The story involves a decades-old crime: in 1985, Frank Mackey decided to run away and elope to England with his teenage sweetheart (Rosie Daly). But Rosie never showed up at their planned meeting spot. Frank went on ahead anyway, eager to leave behind his troubled life in blue-collar Dublin — a place of “factory workers, bricklayers, bakers, dole bunnies, and the odd lucky bastard who worked in Guinness’s and got health care and evening classes.” But twenty-two years later, in 2007, Rosie’s fully-packed suitcase is discovered inside the wall of a building under construction. It is clear she meant to go with Frank, but something stopped her. The discovery of Rosie’s suitcase (and, soon, much more) brings Frank back to Faithful Place where he is reacquainted with the class conflicts, family squabbles, and neighborhood violence of his youth. As a procedural Faithful Place is solid work, but it’s in the well-drawn characters and the scenes from Frank’s hometown neighborhood where the book really hits its stride. Start here if you are new to Tana French’s work.