Just finished the audiobook to Tana French’s Faithful Place, and loved it. Francis “Frank” Mackey, the narrator, is a 40-something Detective in the undercover Division of “The guards,” Dublin’s Police Force. The discovery of a suitcase, found during the demolition of an abandoned flat in “Faithful Place,” a tenement section of Dublin, where Mackey grew up, leads him back home, where he hasn’t been since leaving as a teenager some twenty-two years ago.
The book draws you into a web of family lies and secrets, most of which stretch back generations and remain unclear even to the characters- or the narrator- until they search their own histories, psyches and memories for other things the discovery of the suitcase, or the return of Frank, uncovers. I finished this book today, just as I turned into my own neighborhood and, as I write about it tonight, I’m reminded of my friend Simon, who I met in Coventry, England at the University of Warwick in the early 90’s. Because he studied film history, we talked films a lot and when I asked him what he thought about the one we just watched, he’d say, “I need to think about it for a day or two and then I’ll let you know.”
Like Simon, maybe I should wait a day before I call this a great read, but I think I’m safe in predicting that the strength of the story and the wit and snap of the dialogue will hold up after a few days, or even years. It’s a mystery, but it’s more than that too, as, at its core, it’s a noir story about loyalty to family, to profession, to quick-passing childhood and to clashes between these roles. I wouldn’t call it particularly deep reading, as it’s a fast moving mystery/detective story.
But it’s deep enough, at once both intense in terms of its depiction of alcohol-fueled rage and its effects and intriguing in terms of its ability to make you think deeply about the motivations and techniques of an experienced undercover officer who laughs at the falsely clean morality of the “murder squad.” I don’t know for sure whether, like the best stories I read, I’ll still be thinking about this one in a year. But I’d guess that I will be, and wouldn’t be surprised if, in that same year, it hasn’t been turned into a film.