I have now completed three Tana French novels this year. I wish I had an infinite supply of novels by this author to look forward to. I do believe she has become the best writer I follow. She has it all. She creates a powerful sense of place and ambience, her character development is second to none, and the stories she weaves are brilliantly poignant.
As a testimony to her phenomenalness (new word just for Tana), look how she picks her protagonists. She seems to pick a relatively unlikeable character from her previous book to be the narrator and central character of her next. With most authors, I would think that would backfire, especially with readers like me who require a bond with the lead cast member to enjoy a book. But I have such faith in Tana French that I am willing to go down her road. I did not like Frank Mackey in The Likeness. Not one bit. But there was no way I could abandon Tana, so I took a deep breath and went with it. Though Frank is still not my favorite character of all time, I now respect him and care enough for him to say I’m going to miss him. I feel I really know him and understand him after reading Faithful Place.
I knocked a half star off my rating as it took a while for me to engage in Frank’s story, expressly because I wasn’t his fan. I soon came over to his side and at that point went all in on the story. And what a story it is. So many themes, nearly all revolving around family. Desperation, fear, regret, ectasy, agony, love and hate. The what ifs, the coulda beens, the now whats.
The last 30% of the book is a glorious treasure trove of info dumping and character development. What a powerful combination in my eyes. Talk about being in the zone with a book. I didn’t want it to end.
So book #4 is featuring a character from Faithful Place who I don’t care one wit about. But I can’t wait to read it. Tana French is that good.
If you have not read Tana French, you are tragically missing out. I rounded my star rating to 5 stars as this book is so not a 4-star read. Of note, this particular installment can easily be read as a standalone. I don’t say that lightly as I am a strict read-in-order type of gal. But this book has absolutely nothing to do with Frank’s last case (The Likeness), which by the way could be my favorite book of all time. So no good reason to skip it. But if you want to read The Likeness, make sure you do read In the Woods first. Whatever you do, give this series a try.