Books: Faithful Place by Tana French

This is the third in the Dublin Murder Squad series, and I sailed through it. I mean, I loved In the Woods, and I liked The Likeness (despite its stretching my ability to suspend belief), and this was another great one. Frank Mackey, who was a secondary character in The Likeness, is front and center for this one. After twenty-two years away from his family, he's drawn back in when it's discovered his sweetheart never ran away but was actually murdered. When one of Frank's brothers dies under ambiguous circumstances shortly after, Frank is doubly determined to get to the bottom of things.

My only quibble with this book is Frank's daughter Holly. She's supposed to be nine but behaves more like a six- or seven-year-old. (I know this because I have a nine-year-old and a daughter who is now almost seven.) I don't know what the laws in Ireland are, but my nine-year-old is far too big for a booster seat in the car and gave up dragging stuffed friends around a year or more ago. Still, I suppose I could chalk it to character and the girl leading a sheltered life resulting in a sort of stunted growth. I know French was working to jar Holly from her protected existence to something harsher, so maybe she was exaggerating Holly's childishness for sake of drama.

I am glad French didn't go the way of "child in danger!" For a moment in the book it looked like she might, and I would have been severely disappointed if she had. It's such a cliché. I'm gratified French sidestepped it and chose a more interesting path.

Too, one almost understands the culprit's anger and motives in the end. Frank is not an infallible hero, and it's clear some of his choices have been selfish.

The short answer, this was a great book that I swept through faster than The Likeness (which for me started a bit too slowly). In every one of these books, though, French creates complex inner worlds for her narrators and does a fine job of it. Faithful Place is solidly entertaining without being fast and cheap when it comes to plot or character.

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