Tag Archives: Faithful Place

Lunchbox offbase on Edgar picks this year

The Mystery Writers of America has announced the Edgar Award winners!  And unlike last year, where my taste totally reflected the taste of the judges… we are not in synch.  In fact, 180 degrees difference.

I picked Tana French’s Faithful Place for Best Novel.  MWA picked Steve Hamilton’s The Lock Artist.   I placed this one… dead last in the running.  Augh.  A revisit of my review reveals that I still agree with my comments.   Hamilton is a great author – I’ve loved his previous series – and The Lock Artist was very creative and a fun read, but I didn’t find it to be my preference.

Similarly, for Best First Novel, my pick was Nic Pizzolatto’s Galveston.  MWA’s choice: Rogue Island by Bruce DeSilva.  Again, this book was at the bottom of my list.  I looked back over my review.  Yep, still agree with it.  The book has sheer verve going for it, but it’s not as edgy as I prefer.

Bottom line:  If you haven’t read all the nominees, do so!  They’re all excellent and well worth your time.  You can’t go wrong with the established authors nominated for Best Novel, including Tana French, Harlen Coben, Tom Franklin, Timothy Hallinan and Laura Lippman.

For the debut novels, you may find that Rogue Island is your favorite, or perhaps the humor and quirky characterizations of David Gordon’s The Serialist will float your boat.  All five nominees are an opportunity to expand your “must read” list.

My final take on being so wrong?  No biggie.  It’s like the Oscars.  “Predict the Oscars” contests reward those critics who are best are predicting what nominees will be selected by the Oscar voters.  I am more like the critics who pen “who should win” columns.  But even with that perspective, this undertaking is all very subjective! Still, it’s terrifically fun, so 2012 will find me doing the same thing.  Maybe I’ll even go to the ceremony!

Edgar Rankings: A visit to Faithful Place

Cue the eerie music.  On the Literary Lunchbox countdown to the Edgars for Best Novel, we now have five out of six nominees that hinge on a crime committed in the past. In the case of Faithful Place, the wake-up call is literally a call.  Dublin undercover police detective Frank Mackey answers the phone one day to hear the voice of his sister, asking him to come home.  They’ve found a suitcase at 16 Faithful Place…where the teenage Rosie Daley promised to make a life with Frank, then left him behind.

It’s been 20 years and Frank’s still blaming his  brawling family for Rosie’s desertion.   All he believes about himself, his family, and his past is called into question, especially once Rosie’s body is found. She never left him.  She never left, at all.

Tana French has demonstrated mastery of the suspense novel with her previous books, most notably In the Woods, which won the Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Author in 2007, and also good was her The Likeness.  With Faithful Place, French has written a book filled with memorable, vibrant, flawed and true characters.

Particularly good:  Family dynamics, characterization, and the way that Frank’s self-esteem issues cloud his ability to see the truth for so many years.   French does a good job with presenting various potential murderers, and Frank’s brother Kevin’s death is heart-wrenching.  Also excellent is the character of Stephen Moran, home-town cop pulled into Frank’s behind-the-scenes sleuthing. The final “whodunit” reveal is stunning in its simplicity.

Not as strong:  It’s a hurdle to swallow the idea that Frank never considers the thought that Rosie was killed until after her suitcase turns up.  He actually heard her murder but didn’t recognize the fact.   The fact that he’s never been able to find her, despite years of sporadic searching never gave him pause. Still, in context, I bought it.

Given the strength of Tana French’s plotting, characters, and emotional impact, Faithful Place is taking the top spot in the Lunchbox Edgar rankings for Best Novel.

Lunchbox rankings for the MWA Edgar for Best Novel:

  1. Faithful Place Tana French
  2. I’d Know You Anywhere – Laura Lippman
  3. The Queen of Patpong – Timothy Hallinan
  4. Caught – Harlan Coben
  5. The Lock Artist – Steve Hamilton