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533 pages, Paperback
First published July 2, 2012
As Tana French herself says in the interview found on Penguin.com, "Now a solid proportion of our generation are stuck on half–built, half–occupied, abandoned estates with open sewage pits and no street lighting, miles from any friends or family, and many of their houses are falling to pieces. They’re unemployed or being taxed to the point where they can’t pay their mortgages, and no one’s ever going to buy their houses so they can move on. And their belief in a sane world, a world where they have any control over their own lives, has been smashed.Broken Harbour is the place that was supposed to become a seaside community of Brianstown, an estate of 250 homes filled with families enjoying the amenities, building lives, raising children while enjoying the seaside view. As it's not rare in the times of economic highs, it was quickly being put together to cash in on the promise of housing boom, with houses being sold even before they were built.
That haunts me. It should never have happened; it didn’t need to happen. And because Ireland is my home and I love it, I get seriously passionate and seriously angry about terrible things that are done to, and by, this country. That ended up shaping the book."
'I’m the least fanciful guy around, but on nights when I wonder whether there was any point to my day, I think about this: the first thing we ever did, when we started turning into humans, was draw a line across the cave door and say: Wild stays out. What I do is what the first men did. They built walls to keep back the sea. They fought the wolves for the hearth fire.'
'I didn’t tell him: the ghosts I believe in weren’t trapped in the Spains’ bloodstains. They thronged the whole estate, whirling like great moths in and out of the empty doorways and over the expanses of cracked earth, battering against the sparse lighted windows, mouths stretched wide in silent howls: all the people who should have lived here. The young men who had dreamed of carrying their wives over these thresholds, the babies who should have been brought home from the hospital to soft nurseries in these rooms, the teenagers who should have had their first kisses leaning against lampposts that would never be lit.This is the place where the fleetingness of dreams becomes painfully clear, and not only depression but madness is threatening to break through the walls surrounding your home and life. It is the place where desperation lurks just around the corner, traveling along the deserted, ghostly streets. It is the place that epitomizes the rise and fall of the country.
Over time, the ghosts of things that happened start to turn distant; once they’ve cut you a couple of million times, their edges blunt on your scar tissue, they wear thin. The ones that slice like razors forever are the ghosts of things that never got the chance to happen.'
'The smell of the sea swept over the wall and in through all the empty window-holes, wide and wild with a million intoxicating secrets. I don’t trust that smell. It hooks us somewhere deeper than reason or civilization, in the fragments of our cells that rocked in oceans before we had minds, and it pulls till we follow mindlessly as rutting animals. When I was a teenager, that smell used to set me boiling, spark my muscles like electricity, bounce me off the walls of the caravan till my parents sprang me free to obey the call, bounding after whatever tantalizing once-in-a-lifetime it promised. Now I know better.'Mick 'Scorcher' Kennedy is a Murder Squad Detective assigned to the case through which he also needs to take his new partner and rookie Detective, Richie Curran (the partnership that ultimately evokes the memory of the similar strong friendship connection between Rob and Cassie in French's first novel). Kennedy would appear to be the perfect man for this strange case - he's well-known for his sky-high crime solve rate, he always plays by the rules, he values his job above everything else, he focuses on the positive even in the darkest times, and he is a walking embodiment of ethics and rationality.
'Here's what I'm trying to tell you: this case should have gone like clockwork. It should have ended up in the textbooks as a shining example of how to get everything right. By every rule in the book, this should have been the dream case.'But because this is a Tana French novel, we just know that before long we will see the unraveling of even the strongest characters, the breakdown of mental defences, the struggle for sanity - basically a poignant drama shrouded in the cloak of murder mystery. And as we inhabit the head of Mick Kennedy, as we get to hear his masterfully created narrative voice, as we - of course! - come to see the deep secrets that even he is hiding in the deep recesses of his mind, we cannot help but hold our breaths as the novel slowly glides to French's trademark soul-shattering mind-punch of an impact - not of the murder mystery itself but of the deep scars it leaves on everyone involved, the scars on the soul that will never fade.
“It doesn't matter where you come from. There's nothing you can do about it, so don't waste your energy thinking about it. What matters is where you're going. And that, mate, is something you can control.”You see his dedication and loyalty to his family, especially his mentally ill sister,. and the strong work ethics and sense of duty he has. He's a by-the-books detective and for him there is no such thing as the colour grey...it's black and white and he makes sure that his rookie partner knows that from the beginning...
“If you think you’re a success, you will be a success; if you think you deserve nothing but crap, you’ll get nothing but crap. Your inner reality shapes your outer one, every day of your life.”Kennedy, as mentor to the rookie, is a things are black and white detective trying to educate Richie on his personal rules of investigation and interrogation.
“ “I remember this country back when I was growing up. We went to church, we ate family suppers around the table, and it would never even have crossed a kid’s mind to tell an adult to fuck off. There was plenty of bad there, I don’t forget that, but we all knew exactly where we stood and we didn’t break the rules lightly. If that sounds like small stuff to you, if it sounds boring or old-fashioned or uncool, think about this: people smiled at strangers, people said hello to neighbours, people left their doors unlocked and helped old women with their shopping bags, and the murder rate was scraping zero.”A deep exploration of human emotions, loss, sadness, madness, fate..... set in a place that fits in with the crime and mystery....Brianstown is not a pretty place...it is isolated, bleak, barren, desolate where the wind blows relentlessly over the town and roiling waves that crash into the sand.
“I have always been caught by the pull of the unremarkable, by the easily missed, infinitely nourishing beauty of the mundane.”Her prose is brilliant, evocative and her characters and place are so vividly descriptive.
"In that moment I thought of Broken Harbor: of my summer haven, awash with the curves of water and the loops of seabirds and the long falls of silver-gold light through sweet air; of muck and craters and raw-edged walls where human beings had beat their retreat. For the first time in my life, I saw the place for what it was: lethal, shaped and honed for destruction..."
At first glance, Ocean View looked pretty tasty: big detached houses that gave you something substantial for your money, trim strips of green, quaint signposts. Second glance, the grass needed weeding and there were gaps in the footpaths. Third glance, something was wrong.Every master of horror knows that true fear does not originate from a basement, fear crawls up through your spine through the emptiness of a vast, vacant room. Fear comes from isolation, and isolation happens even when you are not physically alone. That is what this book does so well. I never knew that a book---a mystery, not even a horror---could inspire so much tension within me. I never knew a book could create such an atmosphere of claustrophobia.
“The village of the damned.”
“That place was creepy. Those hills, I always felt like they were staring at me, like something crawling on my neck, I kept wanting to—” She smacked the back of her neck, a vicious reflexive slap that made me flinch. “And the noise, Jesus Christ. The sea, the wind, the gulls, all these weird noises that you could never figure out what they were… I had nightmares practically every night that some sea monster thing stuck its tentacles in the caravan window and started strangling me. I bet you anything someone died building that shitty estate, like the Titanic.”Detective Kennedy has been called out to a case in Broken Harbour. A murder. A dead father downstairs, splattered in blood. A mother, barely clinging onto life. And then there are the dead children. Little Jack and Emma.
You would almost have listened to hear him breathing, except something in his face told you. He had the secret calm that only dead children have, paper-thin eyelids sealed tight as unborn babies’, as if when the world goes killer they turn inwards and backwards, back to that first safe place.As the case unfolds, secrets come out. There are cracks everywhere. Cracks within an ideal marriage. Cracks within the foundation of their lives, the desperation that comes with the onset of financial instability.
It can scour away at a lifetime of mild, peaceful decency until all that’s left is teeth and claws and terror. You could almost catch the stench of fear, dank as rotting seaweed, coming up from the dark space at the back of the closet where the Spains had kept their monsters locked down.And then there are the cracks in the wall. The actual, physical cracks in the wall. A hole clearly made by man, smashed in by a hammer. The claws in the wall, so big that they looked like they had been caused by a jaguar. The things, the creatures that are tormenting the family living there. Something that would cause the inhabitants to lose their mind, to seek help online, posting to an internet forum trying to find out what is going on in the attic. Something that has driven an ordinary man, a loving husband, a devoted father, to gradually lose his mind.
Look you pack of wankers I am NOT A FUCKING TROLL OK???? I know you spend all your time on this board but I actually have a fucking LIFE, if I was going to waste my time messing w someones head it wouldnt be you lot of losers, just trying to deal w WHAT IS IN MY ATTIC + if you useless twats cant help me w that then you can FUCK OFF.The Characters: This book is psychologically wracking, emotionally wrenching, it gave me a tremendous amount of apprehension. This is what a crime novel should be. Detective Kennedy has personality. He is not imperfect, he is a grown ass man, one who is damned good at his job, and it shows. He is a good man, he is not perfect. He makes wrong judgments sometimes. This is an enormously straining case, it is a huge murder that has the media up in storms. It is Detective Kennedy's ass on the line if he screws it up. He is under an enormous amount of strain. I found him to be an exceptionally believable, sympathetic, unflinching character. He has a job to do, and damned if he doesn't do it well.
“Murder is nature. Hadn’t you noticed that? People maiming each other, raping each other, killing each other, doing all the stuff that animals do: that’s nature in action. Nature is the devil I’m fighting, chum. Nature is my worst enemy. If it isn’t yours, then you’re in the wrong fucking gig.”In any good crime novel, everyone needs to be realistic. You will not be disappointed by the character development in this book, from the smallest character to the mains, everyone feels real.
I sat on the edge of the bed, pressing circles into my palm with the barrel of the gun and wishing for something I could shoot, listening to the waves sigh like some great sleeping animal and trying to remember turning the strip light on.The mystery of the attic, the unfolding of the crime, the fear of what lies underneath fills me with chills. Broken Harbour leaves me wanting to seek the comfort of my warm bed, and the arms of someone who will tell me that everything will be all right, somehow.
In that moment I thought of Broken Harbor: of my summer haven, awash with the curves of water and the loops of seabirds and the long falls of silver-gold light through sweet air; of muck and craters and raw-edged walls where human beings had beat their retreat. For the first time in my life, I saw the place for what it was: lethal, shaped and honed for destruction as expertly as the trap lurking in the Spains’ attic.