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Posts Tagged ‘The Likeness’

Some writers have the gift of immersing you so completely in their world that you look up from the page with a start, surprised by the reality of your living room or cafe corner, or, heaven forbid, cramped airport seat, wherever you happen to be reading. Tana French whisks you away to Ireland with not so much a brogue as a silver tongue, persuasive and beguiling. Such a lovely writer.

French has three crime novels to her credit, each quite different from the others yet linked by sense of place and character. I love them all: In the Woods, a police procedural with an unreliable narrator and a whiff of something dark and haunted in a suburban village outside Dublin; The Likeness, in which a young cop goes undercover in an old Irish country house taken over by some university friends of secret history; and Faithful Place, the new one where a middle-aged Dublin detective is pulled back to the red-brick tenements and grasping tendrils of family he thought he’d escaped for good long ago.

Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was 19 and heartsick when his girlfriend Rosie Daly stood him up on the winter night they were supposed to elope to England. He left Faithful Place and didn’t look back, and over the years, Rosie’s defection has worn itself into a corner in his mind, “like a bullet lodged too deep to dig out.” But now Frank’s younger sister Jackie, the only member of his contentious family with whom he’s kept in touch, calls to tell him Rosie’s old suitcase has been found in a nearby derelict house slated for gentrification. Frank’s jerked back to Faithful Place, his old assumptions crumbling like the bones soon found in the house’s basement. Rosie’s bones.

 Neither the cops working the case nor the old Faithful Place families, his own especially, want Frank around mucking up things. His alcoholic father coughs venom, his ma goes along with the abuse like always. His siblings, who haven’t escaped the neighborhood, eye him with suspicion, resentment and envy. Then there’s another family tragedy — accident? suicide? — and Frank doesn’t believe his estranged wife when she says no one could have predicted this event. 

“Personally, I would in fact have bet on at least one member of my family coming to a sticky and complicated end…”

But Frank doesn’t forsee that what next awaits him at Faithful Place is more even more complicated and sticky with memories and betrayals. It even threatens his 9-year-old daughter Holly. And it makes him wonder where his loyalties really lie, and how will he keep the faith?

Open Book: I have a trade paperback of Tana French’s In the Woods, a hardcover of The Likeness, and the e-book of Faithful Place (Penguin Group). They’re all keepers.

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