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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-05-28
- Reviewer: Staff
Edgar-winner French’s eloquently slow-burning fourth Dublin murder squad novel shows her at the top of her game. In a half-built luxury development near Dublin, a family of four is attacked and left for dead, with only the mother clinging to life. For Det. Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, introduced in 2010’s Faithful Place, this is a case that makes—or breaks—a career. With his new rookie partner, Det. Richie Curran, Mick arrives soon after Patrick Spain and his two children, six-year-old Emma and three-year-old Jack, are discovered stabbed to death in their home, while mother Jennifer is taken to the hospital. The house, one of the few completed in the Brianstown development, is a bloody mess, and suspicion immediately falls on Patrick, who recently lost his job. The recession figures prominently, as Brianstown—once known as Broken Harbor—was abandoned by contractors when money dried up. Mick’s own childhood memories of Broken Harbor are marred by tragedy and intertwined with watching over his mentally unstable sister, Dina. As usual, French excels at drawing out complex character dynamics. 5-city author tour. Agent: Darley Anderson, Darley Anderson Literary, TV & Film Agency. (July)
The Murder Squad returns
Half the fun of waiting for the next Tana French book comes from trying to predict who will be its star. Unlike many popular mystery series in which the same detective is featured time and again, French shakes things up with each book, promoting a previous supporting character to the lead role. Her fourth novel offers Faithful Place antagonist Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy a shot at redemption.
Broken Harbor revolves around the triple homicide of a father and two children who have been living on an all but abandoned development in the Brianstown area of Dublin—one of the many projects that were begun during the real estate boom and not completed when the market dropped. Mother and wife Jenny Spain survived the attack, but is barely hanging on in intensive care. Solving this kind of headline-grabbing case would make Mick untouchable on the squad, so even though Mick has personal reasons for giving wide berth to Brianstown—a place that is the source of his very worst memories—he partners with rookie detective Richie Curran and prepares to bag the biggest case of the year. It’s not until he and Richie are in too deep that Mick realizes he’s dealing with one of the creepiest cases of his career.
It may be hyperbolic to claim that French has reinvented the police procedural, but there’s no denying that her Dublin Murder Squad series has breathed fresh life into the genre, throwing the standard mystery tropes out the window. Rife with the ambiguity and uncertainty that reign supreme in real life, French’s novels are deliciously addictive, even though her protagonists—no matter how beloved or long-suffering—are not guaranteed a happy ending. Whether you are a fan of mysteries or not, Broken Harbor is complex storytelling at its most masterful and should not be missed.