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Broken Harbor: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad)…

Broken Harbor: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad) (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Tana French

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Title:Broken Harbor: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad)
Authors:Tana French
Info:Viking Adult (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 464 pages
Collections:Your library

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Broken Harbor by Tana French (2012)

  1. 10
    Mystic River by Dennis Lehane (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Painful childhood memories haunt the detectives of these dark psychological thrillers. Both authors write their respective cities (Boston and Dublin) with realism that augments the flawed, believable characters' struggles. Their secrets and suspicions offer compelling insight into trust in relationships.… (more)

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Though Broken Harbour is a classic police procedural, the quality of Tania French’s writing and her depth of understanding of her characters make it much more than that. I might call it a state of the nation novel. I might call it a wide-ranging human drama. I might call it a psychological study.

But maybe I should just call it a very, very good book.

“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 neighbors, people left their doors unlocked and helped old women with their shopping bags, and the murder rate was scraping zero.

Sometime since then, we started turning feral. Wild got into the air like a virus, and it’s spreading. Watch the packs of kids roaming inner-city estates, mindless and brakeless as baboons, looking for something or someone to wreck. Watch the businessmen shoving past pregnant women for a seat on the train, using their 4x4s to force smaller cars out of their way, purple-faced and outraged when the world dares to contradict them. Watch the teenagers throw screaming stamping tantrums when, for once, they can’t have it the second they want it. Everything that stops us being animals is eroding, washing away like sand, going and gone.”

I have to say that there are times when this book feels very dark and very bleak, but it isn’t ever gratuitous; everything is there for a reason, and this is a story of real lives where terrible things can happen when

Broken Harbour was meant to become Brianstown, an estate of houses by the sea, just outside the city, with all of its own amenities. Building began when the economy was booming, but when the recession began to bite the developers abandoned their project, leaving the handful of buyers who had been enticed by expensive advertising trapped in substandard homes with no way out and without recourse.

The Spains were one of those families, and they were viciously attacked in their new home. The two young children, Emma and Jack, were found dead in their beds. Their parents, Pat and Jenny, were found in the kitchen, in puddles of blood, after being stabbed viciously and repeatedly. Pat was dead, but Jenny was clinging to life by the thinnest of threads.

Mick ‘Scorcher’ Kennedy is the Murder Squad Detective assigned to the case, alongside a new partner, Richie Curran, who was new to the squad.
Kennedy seemed to be the perfect man unravel the story of this seemingly inexplicable crime: his crime solve rate was exceptionally high, he was a model professional, and he took a pride in his work and placed it at the centre of his life.

“One of the reasons I love Murder is that victims are, as a general rule, dead… I don’t make a habit of sharing this, in case people take me fore a sicko or- worse-a wimp, but give me a dead child, any day, over a child sobbing his heart out while you make him tell you what the bad man did next. Dead victims don’t show up outside HQ to beg for answers, you never have to nudge them into reliving every hideous moment, and you never have to worry, and you never have to worry about what it’ll do to their lives if you fuck up. They stay put in the morgue, light-years beyond anything I can do right or wrong, and leave me free to focus on the people who sent them there.”

His narrative voice is perfectly realised, he became a very real man, with just enough foibles to balance his obvious strengths. I was intrigued as I saw the crime scene through his eyes. And it was clear that there was something strange going on in the Spain household: holes carved carefully out of the walls, baby monitors deployed where you would never expect them to be, barbed wire over the loft hatch and a trap in the loft ….

This would be a difficult case for Scorcher: he was trying to support a sister with serious mental issues, he had an inexperienced partner to train guide, and it was at Broken Harbour his family had been scarred by a terrible tragedy, years earlier.

The story moves slowly, because details of people and places, observations of the world, are as important as the painstaking police work that will uncover details of the Spain family’s lives, past and present, and identify suspects.

The characters and the intrigue held me. Though the field of suspects was small I really had no idea who was guilty and what had happened on one terrible night. I really couldn’t see how all of the pieces would fit together, but they did. The resolution was horrifying, but it made a terrible sense.

The balance of all of the elements in this book is close to perfect; there were just a few moments when my interest dipped, when I wished things would move along a little.

My fears that the detective’s backstory would be too prominent, that there would be something too far-fetched in the premise – both of which have problems for me with Tana French’s work in the past – proved to be unfounded.

I read quickly, because I had to keep turning the pages to find out more, and I know that I will go on thinking about what I found out for quite some time

And I definitely think that this is her best book to date ( )
  BeyondEdenRock | Nov 23, 2015 |
I was all set to hate "Scorcher." My dear Frank Mackey found him a pompous nuisance and so would I! But French took this character who could have been an arrogant bastard and turned him into a dedicated, hard working cop, whose self-assuredness and control helped him achieve high success. At times I did still find him challenging to like, but I understood him and where he was coming from.

Out of all the Dublin Murder Squad books thus far, Broken Harbor was the one that gave me nightmares. I don't necessarily think the suspense was that much higher than the other books (this is not to say there wasn't plenty of it), but more so the details of this case touched on my paranoia. (And also, reading it at midnight while by myself didn't help.) There are so many strange events in this book and as everything unravels it creates a fascinating story.

One of the things I love about French's writing (besides her characters and their development...I think I've raved about that enough in the previous books), is how she can weave the detectives personal lives into each of the stories, making the case and their past so intertwined you almost can't separate the two. She basically creates a case which completely breaks her characters psychologically. And I love it.

Broken Harbor was actually the first book in the series I bought. I found it in the bargain section at Barnes and honestly, it was an impulse buy. When I discovered it was part of a (companion) series, I debated buying the other books or just reading this one. I have to say, my decision to start the Dublin Murder Squad Series at the beginning was the best book choice I made all year. ( )
  Kristymk18 | Nov 12, 2015 |

You all know I love French, so I won't bore you with more little love poems to this author, and keep this short and sweet.

Yes, it was typically wonderful in its in-depth character analysis, revealing the important aspects of the protagonist's personality and/or past at the most advantageous moments. However, I found it more procedural than her other ones, and consequently at least half the book is tied up in following police processes and rules, and that couldn't hold my attention. The basic mysteries - who is the actual killer? what the hell is with all the holes in the house? - kept me going forward to find out how French would tie them up.

As usual, she did not tie them up in a nice, neat bow, and the ending leaves you with the same feeling as the previous three - that sad sweet nostalgic feeling that our past is full of mistakes and that moving forward may be painful but there are good reasons to do so. ( )
  khage | Nov 9, 2015 |
This time it's Scorcher Kennedy, Murder D with the highest solve rate, in the spotlight. Coming off a rough patch, he's given a chance to redeem himself by solving the murders of a husband, wife and two kids in what used to be Broken Harbor (now a partially finished/abandoned housing project). An early confession makes it all a little too easy, so he and his rookie partner agree to dig deeper. Another dark one. ( )
  beaujoe | Aug 30, 2015 |
I didn't realize this was book 4 of a series by Tana French but very happy to find this out since I can't wait to read more of her books! This opens up with the murder of a family in an unfinished housing development. You have an excellent, although, damaged detective working the case with a rookie. There's a lot going on in this book and I enjoyed every aspect of it. Sometimes I would have to drive around the block because I was engrossed in the story! ( )
  Dianekeenoy | Jun 9, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tana Frenchprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kolstad, HenningTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Timmermann, KlausÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Velzen, MarjoleinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wasel, UlrikeÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Murder Detective Mick Kennedy is all about control.
Driving the right car. Wearing the right suit. Everything carefully designed to show the world - and most importantly, the killer - that he is in charge of this case.
But Broken Harbour will not be tamed.
This wild, beautiful place holds Mick Kennedy's happiest memories. It also holds his worst.
And now a new horror has happened here, and the cracks are beginning to show.
From the multi-award-winning author of Sunday TImes and New York Times bestseller In the Woods, Broken Harbour is a searing novel of psychological suspense.
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In the aftermath of a brutal attack that left a woman in intensive care and her husband and young children dead, brash cop Scorcher Kennedy and his rookie partner, Richie, struggle with perplexing clues and Scorcher's haunting memories of a shattering incident from his childhood.… (more)

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