Sunday, July 28, 2019

Broken Harbor: Tana French

The fourth book in Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad series features Mike "Scorcher" Kennedy, who had a minor role in Faithful Place, and his new partner, rookie detective Richie Curran. Their new assignment takes them to the scene of a multiple homicide. And the Brianstown housing development just happens to be on the site of a spot where Scorcher's family vacation for many years when he was a child. At that time the area was called Broken Harbor.

From the dust jacket of my hardback edition:
On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care. 
At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half-dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointed at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spain’s computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks. 


There are two stories here: the crime, the murder of three members of a family; and the background story of Scorcher Kennedy. As Scorcher and Richie dig deeper into the investigation, they run into many inconsistencies and learn that the face that the family presented to the world was far from the truth. They slowly find their way to the truth.

Scorcher narrates the story, and the picture that the reader gets of him is very different from how he was portrayed in Faithful Place, which was told from Frank Mackey's point of view. Scorcher has always prided himself on being a top-notch detective and sticking by the rules. He wants (and needs) to solve the case quickly but not at the expense of possibly charging the wrong person with murder. So he and Richie use all the resources of the Murder Squad to find out what was really going on in the last few weeks of Frank Spain's life. Could he have murdered his children and tried to kill his wife?


This is the fourth Dublin Murder Squad story that I have read. As usual I found the story compelling and the characters very well developed. I especially liked the portrayals of the two detectives and their developing relationship. The story of Scorcher's early family life is slowly revealed, and impacts on this case, although there is no connection to the crime.

I love Tana French's writing. I usually shy away from extremely long books but I don't mind the length in her books; this one was 450 pages. One thing about this book that I had a problem with... The ending of the book is downbeat, quite bleak. So if you are looking for a book with a more positive outlook, this isn't it. It seemed to me to be a realistic picture of an investigation, showing the wear and tear such work can have on the policemen involved.

See these reviews:
At Mystery Scene
John Grant's review at Goodreads
Rob Kitchin's review at The View from the Blue House


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Publisher: Viking, 2012
Length:    450 pages
Format:    Hardcover
Series:     Dublin Murder Squad
Setting:    Dublin, Ireland
Genre:     Police Procedural
Source:   Purchased at the Planned Parenthood book sale, Sept. 2018.

11 comments:

  1. I've always liked the way she links her Dublin Murder Squad books, but still gives each one its own unique perspective and voice. That really takes talent, I think. And, of course, there's her writing style, etc... I'm very glad you enjoyed this.

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    1. I liked that about her series too, Margot. It is like a series but gives more room for differences in the books, and the characters, as you note.

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  2. I like this one almost as much as A FAITHFUL PLACE. There is a good interview with her on THE NEW YORKER RADIO HOUR.

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    1. A FAITHFUL PLACE is still my favorite (of the first four books), Patti. This one was very good, very well done, just mostly sad or a downer.

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    2. And forgot to say, thanks for letting me know about the interview and I found it and will listen to it later.

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  3. Yikes, I haven't read any of the Dublin M. Squad books, despite your enticing reviews, Tracy! I wonder if maybe it's been the length of them that's discouraged. Well...I've been shying away from lengthy novels of late. It just might be time to hitch the trousers and head to Dublin!

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    1. This is one series where length doesn't bother me so much, Mathew, but still I could have had this one shortened a bit. I would love to hear what you think of Tana French's writing.

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  4. This is the only one of her books I haven't read, and I am trying to ration myself because who knows when there will be another one out. But I know it is a favourite with some people.I will come back to your review when I read it.

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    1. Moira, I have the last two books left to read, plus The Wych Elm, but I will wait until I find copies. None left on my TBR pile at this time.

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  5. I'm put off by the length, but maybe I ought to try and see past that. Glad you enjoyed it, Tracy

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    1. The length is a problem, Col, although in the case of this author, I ignore that. But my preferred book length is between 200 and 300 pages.

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