Protagonist: Det. Sgt. Frank Mackey
Estranged from most of his family, Frank Mackey returns to his old neighborhood of Faithful Place after a suitcase is found in an abandoned flat -- a suitcase that belonged to his first sweetheart, Rosie Daly. Twenty-two years earlier, Frank and Rosie had secretly plotted to run away to England, but Rosie never showed at the meeting spot. Now, Frank tries to find out what happened, with an underlying fear that his family may be at the root of it.
As much as a mystery novel, Faithful Place is a novel about family -- a very dysfunctional one. Or as Frank describes them: “the bubbling cauldron of crazy that is the Mackeys at their finest.”
His abusive father, an alcoholic, is battling illness, and his mother is as abrasive as ever. His four siblings have never strayed far from their parents -- only Frank, who hasn’t even wanted to introduce his daughter to his family. With an unerring eye, the book also describes Frank’s relationship with his ex-wife and his 9-year-old daughter.
This book was so perfect, so captivating, that my only disappointment is that we might not see Frank Mackey again, since French uses a new protagonist in each book, usually someone who was a secondary character in a previous book (as Frank was in “The Likeness”). I’ll miss Frank, but I look forward to what French will bring us in her next book.