Frank Mackey, a detective in Dublin, has to return to his childhood neighborhood to solve a crime from his past. Frank Mackey is an Irish detective who has been waiting for twenty two years to find out what happened to his first love.
When Frank and Rosie were nineteen, they had a plan to run away and break into the music business. Frank waited at their rendezvous spot all night, but Rosie never showed up. Eventually he decided to leave without her, but always hoped that he would find her again. Now, her moldy suitcase from twenty two years ago has been recovered and he has to return to the neighborhood he escaped to solve her murder.
Frank returns to his childhood home and is reintroduced to his four siblings, his mother and his alcoholic father. Most are happy to see that he has returned, but there is no love for police officers in this neighborhood. His older brother Shay especially doesn't want him around, feeling that he abandoned the family and has no right to come back now.
The suitcase prompts an investigation that eventually turns up Rosie's body. She never made it to Frank that night, but she had the tickets on her body. Frank is simultaneously relieved to know she hadn't abandoned him and crushed to know that their plan had gotten her killed. He vows that he will solve the case, and he will let nothing from protocols to his superior officers get in his way.
Digging up the past brings to light more issues in Faithful Place than he remembered. His father was a violent drunk through most of his childhood and he hated Rosie. Rosie's father hated Frank and would do anything to keep her from leaving with him that night. Shay had to protect his younger siblings from his father's wrath throughout their childhood. Frank finds out that his family's past is filled with violence. Signs start to point to his father being the suspect.
One night his younger brother Kevin calls him several times. Frank doesn't answer the phone and he receives several voice messages saying Kevin needs him. The next day Kevin is found dead in the same abandoned house that Rosie's body was discovered in. There is a note that seems to indicate that he killed himself over the guilt of having killed Rosie. Frank doesn't believe the note was left by his younger brother and continues to investigate.
Eventually, Frank realizes that there is one person who would want to stop Rosie from leaving more than any other. He returns to the scene of the crime and finds his older brother Shay. He confronts Shay and he reveals that he never meant to kill Rosie. Shay found out about Frank's plan to run away and was furious. He thought Frank was selfish for abandoning the family and leaving Shay to look after their siblings. He had intercepted Rosie that night with the intention of talking her into staying. Unfortunately Rosie wasn't convinced and Shay lashed out at her, accidentally killing her. He hid her in the basement of an abandoned house and stashed her briefcase.
Frank's world crashes down around him with this revelation. His own brother had murdered the love of his life. The book closes on a broken man, one who has lost not only the love of his life, but the love of his family for arresting his own brother.
Best part of story, including ending:
The tone of this story is incredibly dark. It doesn't pull any punches or have a happy ending. The author's skill and resolve to create such an atmosphere makes the book stand out above similar mystery novels.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene of the book is where Frank confronts his brother about the murder. The guilt of twenty years floods out of Shay and at first we believe that there will be a final redemption for him. But then the monster is revealed again when he says the evidence won't stick and he admits to killing his younger brother Kevin as well in an attempt to pin the murder on him. The oncoming redemption is turned into the complete devastation of the Mackey Family.
Opinion about the main character:
Frank Mackey is a cynical man who never wanted to come home again. While cynicism could have dragged the character or the story, Frank's feels justified. He isn't looking for redemption, he just wants to find out what happened to his first love. His cynicism makes the final reveal even more emotional as he is proven right in his distaste for the world around him.