Leah's Reviews > Broken Harbor

Broken Harbor by Tana French
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's review
Jun 08, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: arcs-freebies, penguin, viking
Read from May 14 to 25, 2012

Tana French's Dublin Murder Squad novels go way beyond your average police procedural. Characters of depth and complexity fill the pages, and being able to get inside their heads is fascinating. The psychological intricacies give the story layers of meaning that keep you captivated.

Broken Harbor brings the rigid, play-it-by-the-rules detective Mike "Scorcher" Kennedy from Faithful Place to the forefront. (One of French's greatest strengths is her ability to take a character from being peripheral one book to being the narrator of the next, shifting perspective and giving the reader the chance to see that character in a whole new light without changing who the character is.) Scorcher has an impressive solve rate. And he has it because he does everything by the book. He does what he's supposed to do and gets the results he's supposed to get.

The Spains, however, despite doing what they thought they were supposed to do--getting married, having kids, moving to the suburbs--end up being violently attacked in their own home. Emma and Jack, ages six and three, are smothered in their beds. Pat, the father, is fatally stabbed downstairs. And Jenny, the mother and sole survivor, is left for dead, lying in a pool of blood next to her husband. They dreamed of having a home by the sea. What they got was a nightmare in a poorly buily, isolated house in a half-finished and abandoned housing estate. But who would want to hurt them? And why?

Det. Kennedy is determined to find out. Broken Harbor has been renamed Brianstown, but that doesn't change Kennedy's memories of the place, memories that have shaped his whole life and are the reason he depends on the rules. With a rookie partner at his side, a conniving colleague at his back, and an unstable sister in his face at the worst possible moments, it won't be easy for Kennedy to solve this one. The convenient suspect, and old friend of the Spains spying on them from next door, is a little too convenient. The oddly placed holes in the walls and deleted internet history bring more questions than they answer. And Jenny Spain is definitely lying about something. So can Det. Kennedy solve the case, with all this working against him and without breaking the rules?

French's book is captivating. Seeing the reasons, or lack thereof, behind the characters' actions creates a true sense of reality. The writing is so natural and well crafted. Suspenseful until the end, with a resolution as simple and as complex as the human condition, it's a great book. The fifth novel in the series is something to look forward to.

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Carly Lucky duck.

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