Tana French explains at the end of the book that she has used a certain amount of poetic licence in her geographical representation of Dublin, but I found this photo from the Irish National Archives absolutely fascinating when I went ferreting around online. It shows "Faithful Place off Lower Tyrone Street" and really evokes the spirit of the Mackeys' childhood, as described in the novel.
In the frequent flashbacks and memories of the Mackeys' bleak upbringing in Dublin's poverty-ridden slums, many aspects reminded me of the atmosphere of Angela's Ashes. Tana even makes a cheeky reference to this novel in Faithful Place. The interplay between the siblings and their Irish dialect whisked me immediately back to my own childhood, playing with the Irish family who lived next door, and the expressions are spot on.
The story starts in a failed romance. When then-teenager Francis Mackey's beloved Rosie fails to turn up on the night they had planned to elope and start a new life in England, he assumes he's been dumped. He gets on with his life and now has an ex-wife and a beautiful daughter, but Rosie has left a gaping hole in his heart. When her body is uncovered and he learns that she was murdered on that ill-fated night, his whole world falls apart - but that's just the beginning. Everything and everyone he ever thought he knew, including those closest to him, turn out to be holding more than a few secrets up their sleeves and as Frank works, alongside (but parallel to) his policeman colleagues, to uncover the truth, there are skeletons in the closets of many of the neighbouring houses, including those of his family and childhood friends. Faithful Place has many secrets to share, some of which you'd be better off not knowing.
As well as being a gripping crime novel, Faithful Place is a brilliant depiction of life in this part of Dublin in the '80s and the complicated bonds holding dysfunctional families together. The tone is often bleak and tense but there's a flicker of hope at the end. It reminded me very much of watching an episode of Cold Case and I could imagine Rosie's ghost at the end, smiling and wandering off into the Dublin mists !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £12.99
Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton; First Edition edition (19 Aug 2010)
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