Tana French sets her third crime novel in Dublin. Place is in the title and place is important. Love of the city permeates the story as her undercover cop, Frank Mackey, is forced to return to the scenes of his childhood and the home he left without a backward glance when he planned to run away to England with his young lover.
Now, evidence suggests that she did not change her mind about the elopement but might have been prevented from meeting him. Mackey forces himself to go back to the family flat and submit himself once again to his parents’ rules and authority. He faces a mixed reception from his siblings and, at the same time, is coping with his own family problems: an estranged wife and a bright little daughter who wants to know what is happening in her father’s life.
Mackey has already featured in French’s novels but this book, in my opinion, her best so far, explains a lot about him. Conflict drives him on while sometimes sapping his strength. The clash between his poor Catholic upbringing and the relatively easy life he has adopted is realistic. The whole story is character driven , the main character being Dublin, not Maeve Binchy’s city seen through rose coloured spectacles nor even Julie Parsons’ beautiful old buildings and traditions but a surviving city that will outlast the ‘cheap arrogant veneer that will crumble faster than you can snap your fingers.’