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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
Rating:****1/2
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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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English (103)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (108)
Showing 1-5 of 103 (next | show all)
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 |
No se que voy a hacer con mi vida mientras espero que salga el próximo . ( )
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
Book 4, in the Dublin Murder Squad series

Each time I read review I learn something new I never paid enough attention to notice that Ms. French uses a nifty trick of extracting a secondary character from her previous book to put him as the narrator and test him by events she had in store for her current endeavor. I admit not to be a faithful fan and having taken a long break before picking up “Broken Harbor”. This hiatus was exactly what I needed to enjoy and be deeply engaged by the story.

Detective Michael Kennedy (Scorcher from the previous novel) and his newbie partner Richie Curran are handed a horrific case out in one of Dublin’s dying estates built during the housing boom: the Spain family has been slaughtered. It is up to our loveable detectives to delve right in and piece everything together …. Or so we think…

The plot is exciting and a well-crafted detective story. The first part of the book is the set up. We follow the police procedures and slowly the buildup comes along and we have some interesting observations about murder and how people behave. The interrogation phase unfolds at a leisurely pace and plays a good part in this mystery. Then we move into a full page-turner mode and everything gets more puzzling with each new twist. Scorcher’s voice is outstanding and the prose is vividly brilliant. This novel is not only a complex mystery it is also an interesting and chilling metaphor for mental illness and depression. The protagonist’s past (a sub-plot) is quite effective. I also would say that Ms. French vision of Ireland in post economic collapse is fascinating.

Enough said ( )
  Tigerpaw70 | Jun 1, 2015 |
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 |
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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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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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