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Broken Harbor Hardcover – July 24, 2012
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— The Washington Post
“Ms. French created 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.”
— 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 lists — it’s definitely at the top of mine.”
— The Associated Press
"Broken Harbor is truly a book for, and of, our broken times. It's literature masquerading as a police procedural."
— The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“French has that procedural pro's knack for making mundane police work seem fascinating. And she's 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 [French’s] 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
“The fourth book in Tana French’s brilliant, genre-busting series about the (fictitious) Dublin Murder Squad . . . Invoking atmosphere is one of French’s particular gifts, and in this department, Broken Harbor (the name of the town before the developers got hold of it) is a tour de force.”
— Laura Miller, Salon.com
“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. Sometimes, it's not even clear whodunit. Her novels have been translated into 31 languages, with 1.5 million copies in print . . . Broken Harbor has the hallmarks of a standard police procedural: a cocky homicide detective with a troubled past who educates his younger partner with pat lessons; a shocking crime that seems to defy explanation; a heart-stopping twist at the end. But 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
“Both the characters and the crime command attention, page by page.”
— New York Daily News
“French's flair for setting and its influence on characters, as well as her elegant prose, shine in Broken Harbor. The emptiness of Brianstown becomes the modern equivalent of the spooky mansion, complete with things that go bump in the night . . . French expertly shows the importance of connecting with each other, and how fragile those bonds can be.”
— South Florida Sun-Sentinel
"Salon.com’s Laura Miller has this advice for anyone who has not yet read EVERY Tana French novel, 'Just go out and get them right now.'”
— NPR's Weekend Edition
“Part police procedural, part psychological thriller, all fun.”
— People ("Great Summer Reads")
“French’s eloquently slow-burning fourth Dublin murder squad novel shows her at the top of her game . . . As usual, French excels at drawing out complex character dynamics.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Each of French’s novels (Faithful Place, 2010) offers wonderfully complex and fully realized characters . . . French has never been less than very good, but Broken Harbor is a spellbinder.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“A mystery that is perfectly in tune with the times . . . [French] continues to distinguish herself with this fourth novel, marked by psychological acuteness and thematic depth . . . There are complications, deliberations and a riveting resolution.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
- Publisher : Viking (July 24, 2012)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 450 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0670023655
- ISBN-13 : 978-0670023653
- Item Weight : 1.53 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.25 x 1.5 x 9.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #304,442 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I thought I was going to be a huge Tana French fan at the beginning of the book but now have no desire to read more of her books. Too drawn out. She needs a better editor.
The detectives go through the routine (Scorcher tells the tale in the first person) and turn up a promising suspect. And than the book spirals into the darkness. The descent begins when Richie and Scorcher have different ideas as to who might be guilty.
In addition Scorcher has a bipolar younger sister, Dina. And she triggers Kennedy's and the tale's, descent, as during the course of the book we learn that Scorcher and Dina have a history there. Dina tells Scorcher he never should have taken the case, and as we see, he probably shouldn't have.
The book's showpiece is a chapter-long confession sequence that is not for the weak of heart, or stomach. It's a horror show.
NOTES AND ASIDES: Do I really have to say more? If you don't like unpleasant books and characters, stay well away. If you like brilliantly conceived and written novels, order it. And especially keep in mind this is not a routine mystery. Well not just, anyhow.
The mystery of who killed the Spain family was intense and riveting. I was completely immersed from about page 50 or so, and I could. Not. STOP. I seriously read this entire book in two days because I couldn't put it down. It was incredible.
This is by far the best book of this entire series, in my opinion. The denouement ended the story before I might've liked, but I suppose we can all imagine what happened next. (view spoiler)
I'm already beginning The Secret Place and I don't like it nearly as much so far. I'm listening to the audiobook and I really do not like multiple narrators. Irrelevant to this review, I guess, except to say that Broken Harbor will probably remain my favorite title in this series.
5 full stars and a spot on my favorites shelf. Pretty unusual for a 4th in series AND a murder mystery to land there, so know that this book is something special.
In the first part, we have Patrick and Jenny Spain, along with their two children, striking out to establish the family in a new housing development near Broken Harbor. Jenny is an obsessive-compulsive person who wants everything in their new home to be picture perfect. Patrick prides himself on being the family breadwinner and overall handyman who will provide a tip-top home for his wife and children. Things start to go bad when Patrick loses his job. They get even worse when a real or imaginary animal, like a mink or stoat, gets into the house’s structure and Patrick takes extraordinary measures to trap said creature.
The second part is the murder of Patrick, his two children, and a critical attack on Jenny that sends her to the hospital’s intensive care unit. This is when ace detective Michael “Scorcher” Kennedy picks up the case along with his rookie partner, Richie Curran. (We’ve seen Scorcher in another Tana French novel when Frank Mackey, an undercover detective, outperforms Kennedy on a different case.)
Scorcher and Richie apprehend a fellow named Conor who’s been watching the Spain’s house through binoculars. Turns out Conor is a longtime pal of Patrick and Jenny and still carries a crush for her. When Conor is quite willing to sign a confession for the murders, Kennedy thinks the case is in the bag but Richie has doubts. Complicating Scorcher’s work are distractions caused by the bizarre actions of his sister, Dina, and his own tragic memories of Broken Harbor where he lost his mother.
Both parts of this novel eventually come together near the ending. It’s an enjoyable reading experience but I’d call the exercise more of a detailed character study rather than a riveting detective mystery.
Top reviews from other countries
In terms of the crime and the motivation and the end result - yes, I really enjoyed how that was unravelled though I did feel it could have been shorter. And as before, I loved the settings, the interaction of the environment (physical and economic) with the key players and their motivation. So I'll be coming back for more.
The basic story is of a family of four brutally and violently murdered with just the wife surviving with terrible injuries. The police procedural aspects are detailed to the point that over half the book describes the musings and discussions of the two detectives and their investigation to the point of tedium.
There are really very few characters involved in the story and the solution involves some strange and not very credible behaviour by a few of the characters. However, it is all explained and mused over at such great length as if the author is trying us that by going into great and repetitive detail to explain behaviours and motivations the reader will be persuaded. Unfortunately I wasn't. The main murder plot is really little more than a long drawn out shaggy dog story.
The story is set in post-boom Ireland where unemployment has risen and housing projects started during the boom times remain unfinished. It therefore has a depressing air to it. This together with morals and duties of a detective and the backstory of the main character try to fill the thinness of the plot with atmosphere, past tragedy, and a study of an Ireland in economic decline. To some extent the book is successful in this and redeems itself. However, as a thriller with an exciting and clever plot it utterly fails. If this is what you seek, look elsewhere.