I read Tana French's Broken Harbor last year and finally got around to reading another one of her books - Faithful Place. Is Tana French my new favorite British Isles Lady Mystery Writer? I think so!!!
Faithful Place is about this detective, Frank Mackey, whose family finds his old girlfriend's suitcase in an old rundown house in their neighborhood. Frank and the girl were going to run away together to London 20 years ago, but she never showed up at the meeting place. Frank is on very bad terms with his family and has hardly talked to them in the 20 years since. But, after the suitcase is found, he ends up spending quite a bit of time with them and some of his old acquaintances trying to solve the mystery of what happened to his girlfriend.
French has a kind of nifty trick going on - her main characters are a rotating group of men from a police squad in Dublin. In Broken Harbor, the main character is "Scorcher" Kennedy - he's a minor character in Faithful Place. In fact, Mackey doesn't like Kennedy and claims to have given him his nickname, for being a dick in a soccer game or something. I checked in Broken Harbor, and Kennedy claims that the nickname is positive - a result of his scorching goal.
One of French's greatest strengths is dialogue - reading Faithful Place feels like sitting in the corner of a bar in Dublin and listening in on conversations.
"She left us a note, sure. To say good-bye. The Shaughnessy young fellas and of the Sallie Hearne's lads brought it round, the next day; they found it in Number Sixteen. It said right there, she was off to England. At first we thought the two of yous..." In this case she turns a 20 year old relationship between teenagers romantic and sweet. She also manages to write these terribly complex characters - I mean, Mackey's actually a sort of horrible guy, he's so out of touch with his emotions he spends most of his time physically constraining himself from punching people. Or alternately looking for fights so he can punch someone. I mean, yuck, I wouldn't want to spend two seconds with a person like that - but she gives you a glimpse of where they came from and the next thing you know, you just finished a 400 page book in one sitting.