This marks the third book in the author's Dublin Murder Squad series (so far there are five). Although it's really not necessary to read them in order, when I finally decided to listen to friends and give the books a try, I opted to start with the first. I love the first two, In the Woods and The Likeness - giving them both 5 stars - and if I could give this one 6 stars I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Mostly, I continue to be amazed at how, thanks to the author's remarkable writing skills, the characters grow on you; love them or hate them, by the time you finish a book you'll know them inside out. More to the point, even the smallest detail somehow relates to the story, allowing readers to learn how what happens affects their lives past, present and future.
This one, my favorite so far, is rooted in 1985 in the Faithful Place neighborhood of Dublin. On one fateful night, Frank Mackey - now an undercover detective - planned to run away from his dysfunctional family with his girlfriend Rosie, never to return. But Rosie never shows up at the rendezvous site - nor anywhere else - and Frank has no choice but to believe she decided to head for their England destination without him. But now, 22 years later, Frank's sister Jackie calls to tell him that Rosie's suitcase has been found in an abandoned building. Did she leave it behind on purpose? Did she really go to England, or did something happen to her? Even though Frank has an ex-wife and a 9-year-old daughter, he's never forgotten his beloved Rosie - so he returns home for the first time in all those years.
And of course, all those reasons he's stayed away for 22 years - every nasty one of them - come rushing back. When Rosie's body is discovered in the same building as her suitcase, things turn even darker (if that's possible). Frank's father's alcoholism and sadistic bent, his mother's snarky attitude and apparent tolerance of his father's behavior, the hatred among the brothers and sisters - all return with a vengeance even after all those years. But even in the midst of all this turmoil and memories of the past, he's determined to find out what really happened to Rosie on that fateful night.
I may change my mind after I read the next two books in the series, but for now, I'll say if you must choose only one to read, make it this one.
Faithful Place by Tana French (Penguin Books Reprint edition, July 2010); 440 pp.