Tana French is a waif of an Irish actress. When she turned her hand to writing, her first two novels featured a  detective duo of the Dublin Murder Squad, and were both lauded as standouts for their unusual plot and interesting characters. In the Woods won the Barry, Edgar, Macavity and Anthony awards. French’s sequel The Likeness was equally well-received.

This time French has produced a glorious novel about a different member of the squad, featuring Dublin detective Frank Mackey and his host of dysfunctional relatives living on Faithful Place. They’re so dysfunctional, in fact, that Frank has severed relations with most of them at age nineteen, after the girl he was to elope with, Rosie, gets cold feet and never turns up. Becoming a successful detective, having a daughter he adores and an ex-wife he’s unsure about, take up most of his off time–until the day, twenty-two years later, when Rosie’s suitcase turns up behind a fireplace in a derelict house on Faithful Place, sending Frank back to his old neighborhood whether he likes it or not. Now everything Frank believed had happened has to be questioned, with disastrous consequences to those he hates and those he loves.

Faithful Place is a spell-binding thriller, with sharp dialogue and all-too-real characters. Written in first person from Frank’s point of view, we see his clear and unsympathetic views of life, sometimes with biting humor, often bathed in irony. One aspect I particularly want to note is French’s ability to create a Dublin brogue without resorting to a read-stopping stream of dialect. Instead she brilliantly uses key words here and there, as well sentence syntax, to convey the accent the reader hears distinctly. Dublin is a place French knows well, and the pockets of it she shows us are alive and throbbing.

This is a book that will capture you toward its conclusion, even as it envelops you with the many distinctive ways we show feel and show love.

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