French, T. (2010). Faithful place. New York: Viking Adult.
Hardcover $25.95, Paperback $16.00, Kindle $10.99, 400 pages
Author’s Website and Interviews:
Book Page Interview: http://bookpage.com/interviews/8600-tana-french#.UxT2e4WGjFI
The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/12/books/12book.html?pagewanted=all
Princeton Book Review: http://www.princetonbookreview.com/book_pages/discussion/faithful-place.php
Annotation: Frank had always questioned why Rosie hadn’t shown that night but after a grisly discovery the answers to her disappearance are closer than he thinks.
Summary (SPOILER ALERT): Frank Mackey, an undercover detective for the Dublin police squad, returns to his child hood home after twenty-two years upon learning from his sister Jackie that his old girlfriend Rosie Daly’s suitcase has been discovered stuffed behind the fireplace of number 16 Faithful Place. In 1985, when Frank and Rosie were nineteen years old they hatched a plan to run away to England together in order to start a new life away from their families and the lack of opportunity. It is decided that they will meet at one of the run down houses of Faithful Place at midnight and run away to England. On the night that Frank and Rosie are supposed to meet, Rosie is a no show, forcing Frank to assume that she has changed her mind and left without him. He waits for her for hours but then decides to walk away from his home and his family, never looking back. For twenty-two years Frank and everyone else of Faithful Place believe Rosie to have left for England in search of a new life. When her suitcase is discovered and taken to Frank’s parents house, Frank begins to realize that Rosie’s disappearance might not have been of her own choosing. After identifying articles of clothing found in the suitcase, Frank goes to Rosie’s parents house and asks them if it would be okay for him to investigate her disappearance and inquire whether they have heard anything from her in the last twenty-two years. The Dublin Murder Squad takes over the case and make it clear that they do not want Frank to intervene on the case since he has such a strong personal connection to it. Rosie’s body is eventually discovered under a cement slab in the basement of number 16 and Frank sets out to identify her killer. Soon after Rosie’s body is discovered, Frank’s brother Kevin is found dead at Faithful Place from what appears to be a suicide. His body is discovered with half a note from the night Rosie disappeared and Frank begins to question the role his brother played in her disappearance. One day his daughter Holly is working on math problems upstairs at her Uncle Shay’s house and Frank decides to listen in on their conversation. It is revealed that Holly discovered a note from Rosie in Uncle Shay’s drawer and Shay is grilling her about whether she told anyone or not. Frank quickly discovers that Shay is the one who killed Rosie in an effort to stop her and Frank from running away and leaving him with the responsibility of taking care of a drunk father prone to domestic abuse. Shay claims it was merely an accident and this causes Frank to question how Kevin really died. It is later revealed that Shay killed Kevin as well, most likely due to his discovering the truth about his role in Rosie’s death.
Evaluation: I read this book in two days and was immediately hooked by the star crossed lover theme running through the novel. The author did a great job of creating complex characters whose many layers were revealed throughout the book. I immediately connected to Frank Mackey and his need to know what really happened to Rosie Daly that fateful night they were supposed to run away together. Although the story is a murder mystery, at its core, it is a story about family and the complex and dysfunctional relationships that exist. Her writing style paints a vivid picture not only of the setting but of the characters as well. Through her writing we dive head first into the dysfunction of the Mackey family and deep inside the mind of Frank and his siblings. The story is fast paced, dynamic, and leaves you reeling when you discover the truth behind Rosie and Kevin’s death. This is true murder mystery writing at its best.
Appeal Factors: Dark and compelling storyline with descriptive writing that takes you deep into the mind of the characters. Fast moving plot with tons of twists and turns. Irish dialect
Read-alike Titles and Authors:
Little Face by Sophie Hannah
Love You More by Lisa Gardner
Christine Falls by Benjamin Black
The Dead Lie Down by Sophie Hannah
I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
2012 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nomination for Faithful Place
- If/then scenario: Present the audience or reader with a if/then scenario to begin to question character motives and think more deeply about the story. If Frank had run away with Rosie, then would the family dynamic have stayed the same?
Book Discussion Questions:
1. Why has Frank not returned home in twenty-two years? Does this have anything to do with why he decided to become a detective?
2. Why do you think the author chose to include Olivia in the story? Does it reveal anything about Frank’s character? Does she help set the stage for Holly’s relationship with Frank’s family and more importantly Uncle Shay?
3. Why did Frank decide not to follow through with helping Shay kill their father? Does this play into Shay’s reasoning for killing Rosie?
4. What does Faithful Place symbolize for youth at that time? Does the name take on a new meaning after learning about the deaths of Rosie and Kevin?
5. Why does Shay kill Kevin? Did you initially suspect Kevin or Mr. Mackey of killing Rosie, why or why not?
6. Does Frank ever display violent tendencies like we see with his father Mr. Mackey? If so, what does this reveal about his character and his need to distance himself from his family?
7. Why does no one question the disappearance of Rosie Daly for twenty-two years despite the fact that no one ever heard from her again? Do you think the discovery of her body provides closure for her family? Do you think they deserve such closure, especially her father?
8. Why is Frank so intent on returning home after the discovery of Rosie’s suitcase? Is it significant that the suitcase was taken to the Mackey’s rather than Rosie’s family?
9. Why are the Daly’s initially so hesitant to have Frank investigate Rosie’s disappearance? Do they blame him for their daughter’s disappearance?
I chose this book because it was a recommendation from my husband. My husband is not an avid reader and it takes a really great book to be able to get and hold his attention for long. After he finished reading it, he insisted that I read it as well especially after he learned that I had read The Yard by Alex Grecian. I have heard really great things about the author Tana French and was interested in reading one of her books. After reading the back of the book, I had to know what happened to Rosie and Frank’s relationship and why she never showed up that night at Faithful Place. I was also drawn in by the setting of the book as I love anything about Ireland and was hopeful that the writing would transport me there.