...brilliant ... French takes the peculiarities of the family drama - secrets nesting inside each other like Matrioshka dolls - and weaves them around what is technically a murder mystery ... Although the story arc does finally provide the solution to the murder, that's really only the surface of this finely detailed, compelling and claustrophobic novel. Faithful Place grips the reader in its iron vise, like a dark childhood that won't release us until its inevitable, relentless conclusion has been reached.
...[an] expertly rendered, gripping new novel ... The first thing that Ms. French does so well in Faithful Place is to inhabit fully a scrappy, shrewd, privately heartbroken middle-aged man. The second is to capture the Mackey family’s long-brewing resentments in a way that’s utterly realistic on many levels. Sibling rivalries, class conflicts, old grudges, adolescent flirtations and memories of childhood violence are all deftly embedded in this novel, as is the richly idiomatic Dublinese ... neither [Frank] nor Ms. French’s most prescient readers can be sure where the suspenseful, ever-twisting Faithful Place is headed. Even after a basic idea of what happened to Rosie has been made clear, this author still has major surprises up her sleeve.Perhaps Ms. French’s training as an actor at Trinity College contributes to her three-dimensional characterizations of every last person in this book.
Darkness, tragedy and danger creep and crawl through this novel, not on a grand scale but on a chillingly believable, everyday one ... It's not the crime, or even the solving of it, that makes this one of the best thrillers so far this year – there's no serial killer stalking Dublin's streets, no big 'reveal'. It's French's skills as a storyteller that make Faithful Place stand out, along with her best creation yet, the enjoyably flawed Frank. Here's hoping he – and his chaotic family – show up in future French novels.
It’s hard not to be charmed by Frank Mackey, who’s equal parts brogue and noir: confident and mordantly wisecracking, a little bruised and delicate in places, amiably boorish, not much for following the rules. He might be straight out of the hard-boiled imagination of James M. Cain but for his Irish accent and idioms ... Ms. French has Cain’s uncanny gift for first-person narration and the delineation of sharp, distinctive characters - as well as the noir-ish preference for moral ambiguity. She also has a superb ear for dialogue and the rhythms of colloquial speech ... Those who read for the plot may be disappointed by Faithful Place, but those who value psychological complexity and vivid characterization, who aren’t afraid to have their generic expectations turned inside out, who like their thrillers with a strong regional and literary savor, owe themselves the pleasure of Tana French.
...a book as much about the claws of family and a working-class Irish upbringing as it is about whodunit ... In Faithful Place, French gets so bogged down in her 16 houses that she forgets to put Mackey in any real danger. No one threatens him significantly, least of all himself, or the cardboard cutout of a straight-shooting detective who keeps telling him to leave it alone. If a detective is going to spend half the book raking over painful memories, those memories should do more than simply inform his investigation. Mackey doesn’t change much over the story’s course; his personal history is rewritten, but he remains stagnant. In the end, Faithful Place is a page-turner, but nothing more than a neatly wrapped mystery in an intriguing setting, more tableau than tour de force. It would be great, if only French hadn’t already proved she’s capable of more.
As in the previous two novels, Faithful Place has a murderer who will be identified, but in the process of discovering that truth, the detective's own psyche will be dismantled. Detective fiction's legions of brooding sleuths have paid lip service to Nietzsche's observation that if you look long enough into the abyss, the abyss starts looking back. In French's novels, the person looking becomes the abyss ... French's hypnotic storytelling remains in full force in this novel, despite having shaken off the dreaminess that suffused In the Woods and The Likeness.This is Roddy Doyle territory, an excavation of that particular torture experienced by those who want to break out of a hopeless, working-class world but keep getting sucked back in by the loyalty that is its one redeeming quality. Faithful Place is wrenching to a degree that detective fiction rarely achieves ... French does something fresh with every novel, each one as powerful as the last but in a very different manner. Perhaps she has superpowers of her own? Whatever the source of her gift, it's only growing more miraculous with every book.
In Frank’s family, going crazy can have fatal consequences, as we learn in Ms. French’s absorbing story rich in the characters, smells, and noises ... But Ms. French’s whodunit plot is really just a framework for exploring the conflicting pressures, jealousies, hatreds, and underlying strengths of a spectacularly dysfunctional family, a portrait that’s pushed close to, but never past, the boundary into caricature. Ms. French is a trained stage actress and the book’s 400, dialogue-dense pages sometimes read almost like a script, to the point where narrative-driven readers may grow impatient. But it’s that same dramatic training that is Ms. French’s great gift, for she creates fully formed characters with great efficiency and clarity.
Faithful Place is not a page-turner but a page-lingerer ... Along with her riveting depiction of place, French has a gift for dialogue so genuine that you can hear her characters breathe. This goes beyond dialect...to a pure pleasure in wordplay and banter ... Take this book slowly and savor the details. Like a slow pour of Guinness, it’s worth the wait.
French's emotionally searing third novel of the Dublin murder squad...shows the Irish author getting better with each book ... French...is adept at seamlessly blending suspenseful whodunit elements with Frank's familial demons.