Guang's Reviews > Broken Harbour

Broken Harbour by Tana French
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U 50x66
's review
Sep 19, 2012

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Read in September, 2012

I very much like Tana French's writing and eagerly dove into this latest installment of the Murder Squad series. The characters, dialogue and environments were beautifully imagined, as always. The plot, less so. The final revelatory third or so dragged -- it seemed like an attempt to explain a descent into violence by sheer quantity of words, as opposed to naturally letting us see. The first two thirds were much better, especially the developing partnership between the vet and rookie detectives with some well-done interview/interrogation scenes.

The author goes straight at the tragedy of Ireland's economic collapse, even down to the book title, the name of the housing estate (Brianstown after Ireland PM) and possibly the names of the victims (the Spain family, after a similarly crashed economy). The results are mixed. One moment I'm admiring how elegantly she reveals the mundane horror of it all, and the next I'm thinking, ok I get it already. See The Wire or one of that show's writers, Richard Price, for better examples of the decayed city as less clunky metaphor.

I do look forward to the next Squad book and I am curious to see who will be the next protag - my bet is on Richie with Quigley as my dark horse (although I second Kudzu's request to bring back Rob and Cassie!). I really enjoyed how Ms French takes us inside Scorcher, whom she introduced in the previous book as a pretty unlikeable guy. Without apologizing for him or tempering his attitudes, she lets us see what makes him function, flaws and all.

I have never been to Ireland, but after reading four of these stories, I wonder: in Dublin, is every single intimate relationship just a tightly wound disaster waiting to happen?

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