Frank Mackey is a Dublin police officer. He has done his best to distance himself from his dysfunctional family and the memories of growing up poor in a cramped flat on the little street called Faithful Place.
Mackey escaped from Faithful Place twenty years ago. He and his girlfriend Rosie were to meet late one winter night and escape to England where they could get married, get good jobs and have a better life. When she didn't turned up, Frank just never went back to Faithful Place. An ambiguous note he found at their meeting place kindled his belief that Rosie abandoned him and made her way to England herself.
Mackey built a life as a policeman and married a beautiful woman from a much higher social class but he never got over the pain of Rosie's loss, dooming his marriage to failure.
Now, twenty years later, he gets a call that Rosie's body has been found, and he is sucked back to Faithful Place and into the heart of his family. Family dynamics haven't changed much over the years and this story is as much about delving into those past relationships within the Mackey family and among the families on the street as it is about solving the mystery of Rosie's death. Poor Frank Mackey is caught in the middle, trusted neither by the street, nor by the police as he doggedly pursues although not officially assigned to the case.
Interestingly, French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi. But she seems to set all her writing in Ireland.