Travis's Reviews > Faithful Place

Faithful Place by Tana French
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Nov 19, 2010

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This book was a bit of a disappointment. I checked it out from our local library after reading a short but positive review in Newsweek, I believe. But I thought the praise was largely undeserved.

The novel's protagonist is an Irish undercover cop whose life is disrupted when the suitcase of his teenage sweetheart turns up in a abandoned ruin near where they were supposed to meet before eloping to England years before. In order to solve the mystery of what he increasingly becomes convinced was his girlfriend's death, and thus discover if she had indeed deserted him at the metaphorical altar as he had believed at the time or had been the victim of foul play, he returns home to the troubled family he had abandoned after her disappearance.

As a murder mystery, the book is pretty involving. In fact, I finished reading it because I became so invested in the plot and its outcome. The trouble is the authorial voice. The book is written by a woman, and in my experience there aren't too many authors of fiction who can convincingly pull off a gender switch involving their principal narrator (I had the same problem reading Robinson's "Gilead"). In this case, that task is complicated by the supposedly hard-boiled character French chooses for her protagonist. There are just too many places in the book where the first person narration and dialogue waxes way too 'Oprah Winfrey' for an Irish undercover cop, especially when he's talking with other men--those conversations never play out the way conversations would between most men, much less, between men who are also cops. In short, I just never felt that Tana French inhabited the soul of her protagonist; his mannerisms and speech always felt contrived. That, and the fact that the narration unintentionally and obtrusively lapses at times into Raymond Chandleresque self-parody--without Chandler's flair or subtle humor, tainted the reading experience for me.

So, in this case I'd give high marks to the story, but mediocre marks to the way that story is told. Sorry Tana.
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Evelyn fidler i agree the police protocal is far fetched, few cops who care about their career and why they are cops behave like Frank


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