Chapter 1 Summary

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 558

According to Frank Mackey, the narrator and protagonist of Tana French's novel Faithful Place , "only a few moments matter" in one's whole life. For Frank, that moment occurs when he is a nineteen-year-old kid looking for a way out of his depressing, turbulent home in an Irish working-class neighborhood....

(The entire section contains 4622 words.)

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According to Frank Mackey, the narrator and protagonist of Tana French's novel Faithful Place, "only a few moments matter" in one's whole life. For Frank, that moment occurs when he is a nineteen-year-old kid looking for a way out of his depressing, turbulent home in an Irish working-class neighborhood. He and his girlfriend, Rosie Daly, determine that their escape is to meet in the middle of the night at an abandoned house in their neighborhood and to take a ferry to England. But as Frank waits outside the building late one night for over two hours, he begins to get nervous and wanders inside only to find a note from Rosie. Frank interprets the note as Rosie changing her mind, so he leaves the house angrily.

Years later, Frank has made something of himself by working for Dublin's undercover squad and almost completely separating himself from his family. One Friday in December, Frank begins a normal weekend by dropping by his ex-wife Olivia's house to pick up their daughter Holly for a weekend visit. The former couple is the opposite of one another. Frank is rough around the edges and outspoken; Olivia is demur, proper, and now completely intolerant of Frank's attempts to rile her. As Frank waits for Holly to gather her stuffed animals and other belongings, he teases Olivia about her date with a stuffy friend named Dermot.

After he has packed Holly into her car seat and headed toward his apartment near the quay, Frank promises the girl that he will take her to fly her kite, but when he arrives home, his voice mail is flashing with numerous messages, and Frank knows that the messages must be from family as no one else calls him at home. He tries to preoccupy Holly by handing her his laptop and asking her to go play for a while in her room. As Frank checks his messages, he discovers that they are all from his youngest sister Jackie—really the only family member he still speaks to—and she sounds frantic. Frank calls Jackie back, and she tells him that a developer, who had purchased some of the apartments in the old neighborhood, had found a suitcase behind a fireplace. When Jackie informs Frank that the suitcase must have belonged to Rosie Daly because it contains her birth certificate and other personal items, Frank denies that that could be right. Since his family has not called the police yet, Frank decides to hurry over to take a look at the suitcase before someone else handles it. Olivia is extremely displeased when Frank calls her to see if he can drop off Holly, but she finally relents.

As Frank drives back to Olivia's, he promises himself that he will make up for having to leave Holly, but then his mind wanders back to that night when he was nineteen and in love. Verbatim, he silently replays the words from Rosie's note. She had written that she didn't want to mess up anyone's life and that she desired for the note's recipient to wish her success in England. Frank has always believed that that note was meant for him, but now he has many unanswered questions—the primary one being what happened to Rosie between when she arrived at the abandoned building years earlier and when he showed up.

Chapter 2 Summary

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 652

Chapter 2 begins with a description of Frank's childhood neighborhood, Faithful Place. The small community consists of several row houses filled with working-class families. Frank has not returned to the old neighborhood for quite a while and maintains contact only with his younger sister Jackie.

As he nears Faithful Place, he parks a couple of blocks away and walks to his parents' house. When he enters the cramped flat, his mother greets him by criticizing his appearance, and Frank acknowledges his father and siblings who have all gathered at the family home.

Frank doesn't make small talk but instead asks first where Rosie's suitcase is. His older brother Shay directs him to it, and Frank notices all the hand prints on it. His mother admits that she tried to open the case and tells Frank that Shay used a screwdriver to pry it open.

Seeing the same screwdriver nearby, Frank grabs it and gently lifts open the lid. He is struck by the scarcity of what Rosie packed considering that she was leaving her old life behind. In addition to a couple of changes of clothing, Rosie had packed her birth certificate. With it, Frank finds their two ferry tickets to England, which had held so much promise years ago. 

As Frank emotionally drifts into a world in which Rosie is still alive, his sister Carmel brings him back to reality by asking if they should call the police. Frank tells his family that he needs to decide what to do with the evidence because he wants the case to have priority; so for now, no one contacts the police.

Later in the evening, Frank sits outside on his parents' porch with his sisters and brothers. While his sisters discuss their children, no one asks him about his little girl, Holly. Frank makes a note of this but doesn't find it unusual because he has done his best to keep his daughter away from his dysfunctional family.

As the siblings talk, they theorize about Rosie's disappearance. The conversation then turns to their father, and Frank asks if "Da" has stopped drinking and is treating their mother well. Frank's questioning causes Shay to become enraged, and he displays his bitterness toward Frank for being absent for so long.

Years ago, Shay had rented the flat above his parents and borne most of the burden of taking care of his dad. Shortly after Shay's outburst, Jackie and Carmel decide to go home to their families, and Shay retires to his flat while Kevin and Frank create makeshift beds on their parents' living room floor.

Frank's youngest brother Kevin is a jovial, innocent young man who is genuinely happy to be able to spend time with Frank. As he and Frank settle in for the night, Kevin asks his older brother why he became a police officer, and Frank tells him simply that it sounded exciting. Kevin admits that their father threw a fit when he heard that Frank had joined the force and marked his son as a traitor. Kevin, though, seems proud of Frank, especially for escaping the humdrum life of Faithful Place.

The conversation soon turns to Rosie, and the brothers reminisce over her beauty and effervescence. Kevin admits that the morning after Frank ran away and Rosie disappeared, he and Shay didn't even realize at first that Frank was gone. They were busy watching Mrs. Daly, Rosie's mom, being taken away by men in white coats.

Soon, though, the whole neighborhood had assumed that Rosie and Frank ran off together, and the Dalys and Mackeys commenced fighting. Kevin tells Frank that their brother Shay took it hard when Frank left, and Frank finds Kevin's words strange because he and Shay had never been close.

As Kevin drifts off to sleep, Frank observes that Faithful Place is finally quiet, and that all its lights are out except the one in Shay's apartment above.

Chapter 3 Summary

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1085

Frank doesn't sleep at all during his stay at his parents' house. Instead, he stares at Rosie's tiny suitcase and considers the two possible theories of why it was found in Faithful Place after all those years.

Frank had accepted Theory One many years ago: Rosie had decided to run away without him and had written the note to him. He had made peace with that note years earlier and didn't particularly want to change the theory. However, as a detective, he acknowledges that the theory doesn't work because of the discovery of the never-used ferry tickets.

Theory Two is the one that Shay and Carmel bluntly put forth: something sinister happened to Rosie on the night she was supposed to run off with Frank.

As Frank considers the two theories, his memory returns to Faithful Place twenty-two years earlier. He sees Rosie leaning on the porch railings of her parents' home with her two friends, Imelda and Mandy. The evening was just a couple of nights before he and Rosie had planned to run off, and as Rosie's friends joke with Frank, Mr. Daly makes an appearance outside. Frank greets him, but Mr. Daly ignores Frank.

Frank takes pleasure in picturing how Rosie's father will react when he wakes up the following Monday and finds Rosie gone. As Frank remembers the evening, his mind refocuses on Rosie's note. He realizes that nothing in the note designated him as the addressee. For all those years, he had assumed that it was meant for him, but now he admits to himself that it could just as easily been for the Dalys to find.

Once again in detective mode, Frank makes plans to visit the Dalys so that he can ask their permission to take the suitcase. His next step will be to find Imelda and Mandy to see if they remember anything about Rosie's demeanor shortly before she disappeared.

Later that morning, as Frank's mom puts an unappetizing breakfast on the table for her "boys," Frank tries to ask casually about the old inhabitants of the neighborhood. His ultimate goal is to find out where Imelda and Mandy are now. He does discover that Mandy still lives in her parents' old building and then announces that he and Kevin are going over to the Dalys with the suitcase. Mrs. Mackey isn't happy and forbids her sons to go before finishing their breakfast, but both of them quickly get ready and head toward Rosie's parents' house.

On the way to the Dalys', Frank ponders the tense relationship between his family and the Dalys. He knows that some of it stems from Mr. Daly's sense of superiority. While he maintained his stable job at Guinness's, Frank's dad wandered from one day job to another in between his alcoholic bouts. The two mothers also hate each other, but Frank does not know the reason other than speculating that his mother's fertility magnified Mrs. Daly's miscarriages.

As Frank and Kevin reach the Dalys' door, Frank tells Kevin that he needs to begin the conversation with the Dalys by telling them how Rosie's suitcase was found. Kevin is not pleased that he has to talk to the Dalys but agrees to follow his older brother's directive.

Mrs. Daly opens the door and seems genuinely pleased to see Kevin; however, her reaction to Frank is not so hospitable. At first Mr. Daly refuses to allow Frank in the house, but Kevin's charm is enough to win him over, and he reluctantly lets in both brothers.

Thankfully for Frank, Rosie's oldest sister, Nora, is at her parents' house, and she helps to neutralize the atmosphere. As Kevin shows them the suitcase and tells them that it was just found in Number 16 Faithful Place, Mrs. Daly is puzzled. She acknowledges that the suitcase is hers and that it disappeared with Rosie, but she assumed that it was with her youngest daughter in England.

Mrs. Daly begins trying to figure out the situation by speculating out loud that Rosie simply couldn't call all those years because she was getting settled in England, but she fully expects her to call later in the year when she has her 65th birthday. As she chatters on, she becomes more high strung, and Mr. Daly grabs her hand. Nora steps in and admits that they had thought it strange that they had never heard from Rosie, especially when they discovered that she was not with Frank.

Frank asks the Dalys if he has their permission to take in the suitcase for examination and has to convince them that if they give the case to him, he will see that it gets the attention that it deserves. Mr. Daly finally agrees to Frank's request, and then Frank begins to ask them about the night Rosie left.

Mrs. Daly begins her account with the day before and recalls that it was just like any other Sunday. Rosie had gone to mass with her family, and later that night she had gone to bed early with her father because they both had to work early the next day.

On Monday morning, Mrs. Daly had gone in to wake the two girls and discovered Rosie missing. Later that morning, some neighborhood boys who had been in the vacant Number 16 came to the Daly home with Rosie's note. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Daly discovered her suitcase missing, and the family believed that Rosie had truly run away.

After Mrs. Daly's narrative, Frank asks Rosie's parents a couple of standard questions such as if anyone had been bothering Rosie or if she had acted strangely before her disappearance. He then pulls out a couple of envelopes with photos in them and hands the Dalys a photo of a woman to see if they recognize her. Frank's action is an old detective trick to get suspects' fingerprints in an inconspicuous manner.

After he takes back the photo, the Dalys ask him if he thinks something happened to Rosie. Frank carefully chooses his words, ambiguously responds, and heads toward the door. Mr. Daly stops him at the door and tells him that they never thought it was strange that Rosie didn't contact them because they thought Frank wouldn't let her.

Frank cannot tell if Mr. Daly's comment is an apology or dig, but he responds by reminding Mr. Daly that Rosie never let anyone keep her from doing what she wanted to do. With that, he and Kevin leave the Daly home with the suitcase in their possession.

Chapter 4 Summary

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 519

After Frank and his brother Kevin leave the Daly home, Frank sends Kevin back to their parents' house to bear the brunt of their mother's wrath. Kevin, once again the loyal younger brother, reluctantly agrees to return home.

Frank does not divulge to Kevin that his real motive for sidelining him is to keep their mother busy so that she does not have time to tell anyone in the neighborhood about Rosie's suitcase. His plan is to store the suitcase safely in his trunk before heading over to Rosie's friend Mandy's house to question her about Rosie's demeanor before her disappearance.

When Mandy opens her door to Frank, she seems to be the only one in all of Faithful Place who is unequivocally happy to see him. She warmly invites him in, and Frank takes in her very lived-in home. With two young girls, Mandy has her hands full, but she has managed to maintain a cheerful outlook on her modest life in the old neighborhood.

At first, she and Frank make small talk and laugh about their youthful days. As a veteran investigator, Frank knows how to make Mandy feel comfortable talking to him even though he has been absent from her life for so long. Mandy tells him about her husband, a chef, and how she and he have essentially become younger versions of their parents. 

After catching up on over two decades worth of history, Frank allows Mandy to direct the conversation to Rosie. She rather sheepishly asks him if he ever heard from Rosie. Frank casually responds that he never did, and Mandy admits that her one-time best friend never contacted her either.

She confesses to Frank that she had figured out that he and Rosie were planning on running off together, but not because Rosie had betrayed their secret. Rosie had been acting strangely shortly before she disappeared, and Mandy eventually discerned that she had made the decision to break away from Faithful Place and begin a new life. Rather than being jealous of her friend, Mandy was happy for Rosie and had no idea that she was going to "break it off" with Frank and abandon him.

At this point in the conversation, Mandy is not privy to the discovery of the suitcase or Frank's real intentions in visiting her, so she continues to ramble on about Rosie's strict father. Frank interrupts and asks her if she thought Mr. Daly ever abused his daughters, and Mandy responds that she does not think so. She believes that Rosie would have told her about any abuse, and she views Mr. Daly simply as an overly controlling father who did not recognize that his little girl had grown up.

At the end of her account, Mandy admits to Frank that she had told Imelda about her prediction that Rosie was going to run off with him, but she had told no one else. Soon afterwards, Frank ends his visit, hugs Mandy, and wishes her well. He chooses not to tell her about Rosie's suitcase reappearing. He figures his mom will relish sharing that piece of news.

Chapter 5 Summary

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 828

After leaving Mandy's home, Frank returns to his parents' flat to find his brother Kevin outside on the porch. Kevin has managed to keep their mother from telling everyone in the neighborhood about Rosie's suitcase; so Frank begins to run some of his theories by Kevin. He asks his brother how Rosie could get out of her house at night if her father had locked the front door and kept the key. Kevin speculates that it would have been possible for her to go out the back and climb over several garden walls to get out onto the street. As the brothers discuss Rosie's possible escape routes, Frank's mind returns to the night of Rosie's disappearance. He recalls that as he waited for her outside of Number 16, he had heard a couple and, at the time, had assumed that it was a pair of teenagers participating in a midnight tryst. Now, Frank is not so sure; what if he had heard Rosie being attacked that night and had done nothing?

Frank decides to take Kevin to Number 16 where Rosie's suitcase had been discovered. He has shifted his theory to one in which Rosie never made it out of dilapidated Number 16. The building is, of course, in worse shape than ever before, and Kevin is not keen on entering it. Frank has to do some serious convincing to get his younger brother to even cross the threshold, but Kevin finally follows him because he has always emulated his brother. As they survey the worsened state and structural damage in the flat, Kevin comments that he's afraid the building might collapse on them. Frank reassures him that it is fine, and they continue toward the back of the house. The flat's strong odor reminds Kevin of the stench that emanated from the building several years earlier, and he asks Frank if he remembers it. Everyone in the neighborhood had assumed that it came from a bunch of rats who had been poisoned and left to die by a vagrant.

As Frank begins to make his way toward the basement, Kevin is once again hesitant. He reminds Frank of the time when their oldest brother, Shay, locked them in the basement. Frank remembers that incident and considers it just another event from his family's troubled past which he has tried to forget. When the brothers reach the bottom of the stairs, even Frank is surprised by the decayed condition of the basement. Someone, apparently in an attempt to shore up the foundation, had cemented concrete slabs to the basement floor. As Frank nudges one of the slabs with his shoe, he notices that it's not secured to the floor, and he immediately begins to piece together Rosie's fate. He asks Kevin if the stench from Number 16 began around the time he left the family neighborhood for good. Kevin cannot recall, but as he ponders it more, he begins to believe that it was around the same time. Frank now thinks he knows where Rosie is and calls in the crime tech team from his unit.

After making his call and rousing the techs from their lazy weekend shift, Frank decides that it would be best for Kevin and him to return to their parents' place while the crime scene team does their work. Shay is waiting for them when they arrive and begins to nonchalantly question them about the gathering outside of Number 16. Frank replies with minimal answers, and the brothers settle in to watch the action from afar. In the meantime, neighbors have also begun to come out of their flats to see what is going on at the normally deserted Number 16. As Frank appears to be getting tenser, Kevin tries to comfort him by saying that there is probably nothing there. Then suddenly, a large boom fills Faithful Place, and Frank stands up quickly. Kevin can see that his brother is about to go over to Number 16 and tries to hold him back, but Frank pushes past him and forces his way into the investigation site. He heads down to the basement, knowing that the sound which rocked the neighborhood came from one of the concrete slabs being moved. He sees the crime techs huddled around the area where the slab used to be and catches a glimpse of matted hair, shredded denim, and "slick brown bones." He knows immediately that his hunch—as much as he tried to suppress it—was right. After all these years, he and Rosie have been reunited.

Overcome with emotion, Frank exits Number 16 quickly and is accosted by Rosie's father, Mr. Daly, because he knows that his daughter has been found. Frank understands Mr. Daly's grief but has to threaten him physically to keep him from going in to see the remains. He then heads back to his parents' where his brothers recognize immediately from his expression what happened to Rosie. Kevin asks Frank if he is okay, but his brother remains silent.

Chapter 6 Summary

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 471

As the members of the morgue department from Frank's precinct arrive at the crime scene, so does the murder squad. Frank has mixed feelings when he sees who is heading up the investigationMick "Scorcher" Kennedy. Scorcher and Frank trained together, and although Scorcher is annoying, Frank believes it might be beneficial to have him on the case because of his competitive and dogged nature, which will cause him to give the case his full attention even if it is decades old.

Frank decides that it is in the case's best interest to be honest with Scorcher, so he approaches him and tells him about his connection to Rosie. He then entrusts Scorcher with the fingerprints he collected and Rosie's suitcase. Although slightly bothered by Frank's decision to withhold evidence, Scorcher accepts his help.

A bit later, Frank meets Scorcher at a local bar to discuss the case in more detail and to make his pitch for being included in case updates. However, Scorcher has other plans; he first takes advantage of Frank's presence to remind him of his personal solve rate in the Murder Department. Frank panders to him because he knows that he has to stay on Scorcher's good side.

When Scorcher finally stops talking about himself, he focuses on the case and begins to ask Frank about Rosie and the night she disappeared. He questions Frank about Rosie's relationships, asking him if she had a jealous ex or problems at home. Frank reiterates that although tension existed between Rosie and her father, she had no enemies.

Scorcher then moves on to the night Rosie disappeared and asks how much of Number 16 Frank checked before he left, thinking that Rosie had bailed on him. Frank recalls searching the main floor but didn't go to the basement.

As Scorcher gets ready to leave, he lectures Frank on following protocol, and although Frank tries to convince Scorcher to keep him involved in the case, Scorcher wants no part of it. He warns Frank again that he needs to play by the rules.

After Scorcher's departure, Frank remains at the bar, reflecting on the last time he saw Rosie. Several days before their planned escape to London, they had met at a bar where they knew they wouldn't be seen by anyone in the neighborhood. Frank had just purchased their ferry tickets, and while the young couple was excited, they were also apprehensive. They bickered for several minutes and then realized that they were wasting precious time doing so.

After discussing possible jobs and places to live in London, Frank and Rosie remained at the bar until closing. As they walked closer to Faithful Place late that night, Frank reluctantly let go of Rosie before they were seen by anyone, never knowing that it was the final time he would see her.

Chapter 7 Summary

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 509

Frank's siblings allow him several hours to come to grips with the discovery of Rosie's remains earlier that day, but then they begin to trickle into the bar to check on him. Frank's oldest sister, Carmel, admits that their mother sent them.

Kevin lightens the mood by teasing Caramel about her drink choice, and as they are laughing, Shay walks in. The brothers and sisters think it will be fun to get Shay to order Caramel's girlie drink, but he has no problem with it. They observe the confidence with which he approaches the bar and realize that this is his "local." When Shay returns to the table, the conversation returns to more serious matters such as the siblings' dysfunctional family and Rosie's alleged murder.

Kevin, the youngest male in the family, longs for Frank to be back in his life and asks Frank if he will continue coming around more often. Shay is not so positive about Frank's return. As Frank answers questions about his motivation for becoming a police officer, Shay's disgruntled attitude intensifies.

Frank asks his siblings if they would be willing to die for Ireland or for someone or something and explains that his joining the police force was his way of establishing a purpose for his life. Shay, not wanting to allow his siblings to be enamored of Frank, begins to lecture Kevin on not having a plan for his future. He suggests that Kevin's job in construction will be short lived because of Ireland's looming depression.

Then for the first time, Shay explains his plan for escaping Faithful Place. He has been saving for years to buy the bike shop he works at from its elderly owner. He believes that when Ireland's economy really goes south, people will be dependent on bikes and his business will boom.

The tension behind Shay's words is obvious. Embittered because he has shouldered the weight of protecting their mother from their father, Shay directs his animosity almost entirely toward Frank. Although he will not come right out and say it, he views Frank as disloyal and cowardly for leaving behind Faithful Place.

Although Shay won't address the real source of his anger, he does begin to needle his brother by making comments about Rosie. He insinuates that he was intimate with Rosie, and Frank cannot remain silent. Frank attacks Shay, and his siblings immediately try to break up the fight. They know that it will not end well for Frank because Shay is among friends.

Somehow Jackie and Kevin manage to get Frank outside the bar. In his drunken stupor, he wants to go back in and tear apart Shay, but Kevin is able to dissuade him from doing so.

As the brothers begin to part ways for the night, Kevin begs Frank to come back to the old neighborhood, not to let the night keep him away again for years. Frank is not in the frame of mind to have that discussion with Kevin and eventually walks back to his car, where he spends the night.

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