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Broken Harbor: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad) Paperback – April 30, 2013
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2012: In Tana French’s fourth novel, detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy and his partner are sent to the abandoned, half-constructed housing development Broken Harbor to investigate the brutal murder of the Spain family. What Scorcher thinks is an open and shut case is quickly complicated when Jenny Spain is found barely alive, and the family’s circumstances are brought to light: hidden baby monitors, a strained mortgage brought on by the housing crisis, and the increasingly erratic signs of a family in crisis. French fans will appreciate this new look at Scorcher, who was a minor character in Faithful Place; he shines as the successful but jaded detective with a troubled past. French delivers a layered psychological thriller and satisfying ‘who dunnit,’ masterfully spinning a plot packed with tension and a haunting mood that rivals the best of the gothic writers. --Heather Dileepan
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“I’ve been enthusiastically telling everyone who will listen to read Tana French. She is, without a doubt, my favorite new mystery writer. Her novels are poignant, compelling, beautifully written, and wonderfully atmospheric. Just start reading the first page. You’ll see what I mean.”
—Harlan Coben, New York Times bestselling author
“Broken Harbor proves anew that [Tana French] is one of the most talented crime writers alive.”
—The Washington Post
“Ms. French has come to be regarded as one of the most distinct and exciting new voices in crime writing. She constructs her plots in a dreamlike, meandering fashion that seems at odds with genre's fixed narrative conventions...Ms. French undercuts expectations at every turn. The victims begin to look less like victims; the case starts to unravel and the lead detective makes compromises that could ruin him.”
--The Wall Street Journal
“Ms. French creates haunting, damaged characters who have been hit hard by some cataclysm...This may sound like a routine police procedural. But like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, this summer’s other dagger-sharp display of mind games, Broken Harbor is something more... she has irresistibly sly ways of toying with readers’ expectations”
--Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“So much of the pleasure inherent in reading these novels is in trying to figure out where things are going and being constantly surprised, not to mention thoroughly spooked. I predict Broken Harbor will be on more than one Best of 2012 list—it’s definitely at the top of mine.”
“a tour de force.”
--Laura Miller, Salon.com
“In most crime novels, cood cops and decent people court tragedy by disobeying the rules of society. But the stories French tells reflect our own savage times: the real trouble starts when you play fair and do exactly as you’re told.”
--Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
“French's psychologically rich novels are so much more satisfying than your standard issue police procedural...French brilliantly evokes the isolation of a Gothic landscape out of the Brontes and transposes it to a luxury suburban development gone bust. The cause, of course, is Ireland's economic free fall — the Celtic Tiger turned needy cub — and, like all superior detective fiction, French's novels are as much social criticism as they are whodunit.”
–Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“French ...[is] drawn not just to the who but also to the why — those bigger mysteries about the human weaknesses that drive somebody to such inhuman brutality. What really gives Broken Harbor its nerve-rattling force is her exploration of events leading up to the murders, rendered just as vividly as the detectives’ scramble to solve them.”
--Entertainment Weekly (A- rating)
“These four novels have instated Ms. French as one of crime fiction’s reigning grand dames — a Celtic tigress... It’s not the fashion in literary fiction these days to address such things as the psychological devastation that a fallout of the middle class can wreak on those who have never known anything else, and Ms. French does it with aplomb — and a headless sparrow and dozens of infrared baby monitors.”
--The Washington Times
“Broken Harbour is a novel, of course, but it's also a headline...it's good to see contemporary literature engaging a crisis that has had such an impact on the lives of so many. This is, in fact, what good literature does. It makes us look at our world and perhaps forces us to see what we have chosen to ignore.”
--Los Angeles Times
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Top Customer Reviews
The book begins with a heinous crime. Two children, ages four and six, are smothered in their beds. Their father, Pat Spain, is stabbed to death. Their mother, Jenny, is repeatedly stabbed, and clings to life. All of this takes place in the space of a few minutes. Three (or is it four?) prime suspects emerge.
It's set in a new house close by the Irish Sea. This sentence might conjure up images quite different from the structure in this book. The Spain house is part of a huge development sloppily thrown up in great haste to make quick bucks just before the mortgage bubble burst a few years ago. When the economy went south the developer abandoned the project, leaving a wasteland of partially finished homes to rot away. Occupied houses, like the Spains', were significantly flawed.
Several months before the murders Pat loses his job, becoming "redundant." (The first time I saw this word describing those fired because of the recession.) The Spains are running out of money, so the pressure mounts. They are in immminent danger of losing their cherished (despite its faults) home. Pat spends a lot of time sitting at home, thinking, brooding, imagining... Jenny stays busy taking care of her children, but she sorely misses her earlier, cash-lubricated, comfortable life.
There is a swarm of subplots. Mick Kennedy is the narrator. We learn a lot about him just by the way he spins the story. He's a veteran detective with the Garda, the Irish national police. He views himself as a "straight arrow" who never breaks the rules. He has a strong conviction record, but he craves a solve in the Spain murders because it's the kind of high-profile crime that will give him star status and likely overshadow a big case that he fumbled a couple of years earlier. (A loathsome jerk detective likes to remind him of this earlier incident.)
Mick's partner working the Spain murders is young Richie Curran. This is Richie's first work as a detective, and he desperately does not want to go back to uniform. Much of the novel is about Mick's interaction with Richie. Mick views himself as Richie's mentor, and Mick is very serious about wanting to teach Richie how to be a good detective. And, not at all surprisingly, given author Tana French's style, Richie is a complex being, not always willing to conform to Mick's plan.
Then there's Dina, Mick's sister, perhaps in her late twenties. She drifts in and out of psychotic states characterized by self-destructive behavior. Dina is given to tantrums of the sort thrown by preschoolers. She is incredibly demanding and mean-spirited. She chooses to bother Mick with her problems, although she knows he is in the midst of a crucial investigation that is exhausting him. For various reasons, well-examined by author French, Mick is usually the only one available to help Dina.
Throw in a man who is obsessed with Jenny and envies every moment of happiness that Pat has with her. There is also a phantom creature that invades the Spain home.
There are several other characters, all richly developed. (French could probably craft a great novel about the despicable neighbors, the Gogans.)
French is a master wordsmith with a profound grasp of human nature.
The location of this case is one that really brings the past close to Scorcher's present day like no other and you see the stress get to our control driven detective as in no other cases.A very strange case to begin with in dealing with an ideal family , a strange wild animal attack or a stalker murder ? The murder scene leaves much blood and two dead children with their parents left alone with a trap large enough to catch the beast or man yet the doors are all locked and the alarm is on suggesting an inside job? ?? Has someone in the house gone insane ? Is the house or the whole area of Broken Harbor haunted?
Tana French addresses the need for motive in any murder cases that do not seem to make any sense. The actual beliefs of why justice must be served by the decent people such as Detective Kennedy , " ... Sometimes bad things just happen , " he said ..... You're right : every now and then , life isn't fair. That's where we come in . That's what we're for. We get in there and we fix it . If it can't be fixed ... At least we can make sure that the right people get a chance to move on . At least we can manage that much . I know we're not saving the world . But we're making it better ." P. 160-161
One reason I like Tana French mysteries are these characters with strong moral beliefs and qualities in their personalities that also show they are also human . They are flawed but work around their flaws to make justice work because it matters . Anyone who believes in no one can be perfect , but they can try their best without harming anyone kind of justice , which I believe happens often , will like the Murder Squad series . I am ready for #5 ! I generally read literature for study ! My just deserts I devour and love are these complicated mystery / thrillers that I solve along the way . Enjoy them with me !