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

by Tana French

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1,3271065,861 (3.98)235
Member:Shelfishness
Title:Broken Harbor: A Novel (Dublin Murder Squad)
Authors:Tana French
Info:Viking Adult (2012), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 464 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Broken Harbor by Tana French (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 100 (next | show all)
So far there isn't one Tana French novel I haven't loved. This one features a police detective with deep psychological scars who comes up against a case that makes him borderline unstable. Wait, that's every book. Let me be more specific.

This book features detective Scorcher Kennedy, a rule-bound, no-nonsense detective with the best solve-rate in the squad. He is asked to investigate a horrific assault against a family living in a housing development by the Irish sea, where most of the houses are empty after the 2008 economic crash. The problem for Kennedy is that the area where the murders took place
is where he vacationed as a boy, and he harbors some horrific memories of his own.

It's hard to talk more about the story line without spoilers. The appeal lies in the interaction between Kennedy and his brand-new partner, the very vivid setting, the convincingly drawn secondary characters, and the Irish social problems that loom so large over the story. Who done it? The crash done it, and the predatory lenders (that's not a spoiler; it's a metaphor).

If Tana French has a formula going, it's okay by me. Her books are un-put-downable. ( )
  CasualFriday | May 18, 2015 |
Sometimes there is no safe place. So begins the blurb for Tana French's fourth novel, 'Broken Harbour', in which it gradually becomes clear that a family's house and their relationship with it has played a significant role in their murders.

What's it about?

A family of four have been found slain in their own home. Mike Kennedy, the murder squad detective in charge, is suitably cynical after ten years in the job and is soon ready to call the deaths an inside job, one way or another. However, his new trainee, Richie, refuses to believe such a perfect seeming family could have played any role in their own deaths and posits an outsider, a madman fixated on the Spains. As the evidence mounts, whose theory will win out? And by the time this case is unravelled, what else will unravel with it?

What's it like?

Extremely engaging from the outset. Narrated in the first person by Kennedy, readers are immediately enmeshed in office politics and learning about this detective's house style. "Long before I say Word One to a witness, or a suspect, he needs to know that Mick Kennedy is in the house and that I've got this case by the balls." If you're not put off by this macho bravado, you'll soon be intrigued by the case and the relationship developing between the two murder squad detectives. Kennedy doesn't have a partner; he prefers to work with trainees as they're less trouble and will do what they're told, but Richie insists on questioning him and could be the partner he didn't even know he wanted. This angle is nicely handled, (you feel yourself really wanting their partnership to work,) but there's still plenty of focus on the case itself, which is a strange one.

Why are there holes bashed in the walls of the Spain's perfect house? Why are there multiple baby monitors pointed at the holes? And why were the family no longer receiving visitors? There's a nice mixture of CSI style investigation and good old-fashioned police interview technique as the case unfolds almost in real-time. We're treated to a post-mortem, 'floaters' being assigned duties and night-time stakeouts - then everything changes and suddenly it's all about the psychology. If this character did it - why? There's still a focus on the evidence but there's more focus on unpicking the Spain's history and trying to chart their last few months in detail.

Will I like it?

The pace seems to slow down about half-way through and the book itself weighs in at 533 pages, so if you're not sufficiently invested in the characters then you could find your motivation to see the crime solved fading - especially if you've reached a plausible conclusion and are just waiting to see it realised. However, the criminal investigation is embedded in a deeply atmospheric novel and French makes effective use of humour throughout, so it's well worth reading to the end, even if you think you know who and - crucially - why dunnit.

I particularly enjoyed the very entertaining conversations between Kennedy and Dr Cooper, a pathologist who dislikes the lead detective sufficiently to pepper him with putdowns throughout their conversations. For instance: "Far too many variables are involved to permit an intelligent guess and, regardless of what you might do in my place, I refuse to make an unintelligent one." Ouch.

I also appreciated the evocative descriptive touches deployed throughout: there was "Silence, so packed with stubborn that you could feel it elbowing you." and "A couple of med students who should have known better had brought their eyebags and stubble outside for a cigarette." Of course, one man's rubbish is another man's treasure and vice versa... French could lose some readers through a lack of concision.

Final thoughts

'Broken Harbour' is an intriguing and atmospheric crime novel, but it's also much more. It's a moving account of the effects of the recession on the unemployed; it's a frightening look at how minds can become untethered from reality; and it's an exploration of what it means to uphold the law and to dispense justice.

The whole fits together beautifully and I will certainly be looking for Tana French's previous novels, all of which are narrated by members of the same fictional Dublin Murder Squad. (There's an interesting interview with French about this particular novel and its links to its predecessors here.) The only question is where to begin, at the beginning ('In the Woods') or with the most compelling plot outline ('The Likeness')? Decisions, decisions. ( )
  brokenangelkisses | May 1, 2015 |
Mike "Scorcher" Kennedy is called to the scene of a brutal crime in which two children and their father lost their lives, and the mother was severely injured and left unconscious. As she is whisked off to hospital, Kennedy and his new partner Richie Curran begin the investigation. Kennedy is legendary on the Dublin force for his ability to solve murders quickly; Curran is new to the murder squad and eager to learn. It doesn't take long for them to identify a suspect and bring him in for questioning.

But wait ... this happens only 1/3 of the way through the book. It can't be that easy, and of course it isn't. Kennedy works tirelessly to collect sufficient evidence to charge the suspect, and Curran proves his worth through his ability to extract information from people associated with the suspect or the victims. At the same time, Kennedy is distracted and troubled by his sister Dina, whose mental instability flares up most inconveniently.

And that's what I love about this series: the detective's personal drama running in parallel to the crime-solving. In this case, the crime occurred on a housing estate that was once a seaside resort where Kennedy spent his childhood summers. A family tragedy put an end to those idyllic holidays, and may or may not have exacerbated Dina's mental illness. Kennedy keeps all of this locked up inside, desperately trying not to let it interfere with his work. And it turns out Curran has something to hide as well, and after some huge foreshadowing Tana French sets this part of the story on a slow drip that keeps the reader guessing about its impact on the case.

At this time there is only one more book in this series, and I don't plan to let too much time pass before reading it. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Apr 26, 2015 |
Broken Harbour by Tana French was another excellent addition to her Dublin Murder Squad series. This is an author who consistently produces intelligent, complex, interesting crime stories that keep the reader on tenderhooks throughout the entire book.

Entirely capturing the dynamics of a family on the brink of disaster, throwing in the creepiness of a stalker, and adding a heart rendering and totally chilling murder, this was not a story for the faint of heart. I felt a definite sadness and despair as I read about the dreams that fell apart and the lives that were spinning out of control. Her pacing, plotting and writing are all designed to give the reader the best mystery experience with many twists and turns along the way.

Broken Harbour is the fourth book in this series that just keeps on getting better. This particular book is a layered, atmospheric narrative that shows how quickly lives can fall apart when trouble comes calling. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Apr 1, 2015 |
Another great novel from Tana French. Almost from the very first page of her books I am sucked into the story and I hate to put it down. This time there is a multiple murder in a once up & coming subdivision. A happy family is destroyed. Are they truly happy? Once again this novel in the Dublin series does not disappoint. ( )
  kp9949 | Mar 12, 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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For Darley, magician and gentleman
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Let's get one thing straight: I was the perfect man for this case.
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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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