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Broken Harbor by Tana French

This novel is one of Tana French's Dublin murder squad books. I think that she has two (that I'm sure of) and possibly another additional one out there. I liked both of the ones that I read so when I saw that she had a new one, I started salivating over it and here we are. In this novel, Mick "Scorcher" Kenned - a supporting actor from her novel, Faithful Place, published in 2010, - takes center stage in this novel. His goal is to attempt to figure out what happened in the early morning hours and which resulted in the death of two children and their father and left their mother barely alive and clinging to life. The setting is a development that was obviously intended to be upscale - the homes were designed to be beautiful and are overlooking the sea of a former resort town (that ironically, Mick used to visit with his family). The development hasn't been completed : there are shells of homes and half built homes and empty homes all over the place because the recession has hit hard and people aren't buying homes anymore. It also cost the father of the family his job and the family was struggling to hold it together.

The investigation appears to encompass all of the contacts that the family has - at various points, a close friend and the mother's sister are suspected of the brutal attack - and yet many questions focus on the insular family as well. Had the father gone insane and become dangerously obsessive with providing for his family? Was it random or were they targeted by a person who was surveilling them?

What I loved about this book was that it wasn't just another murder mystery. I felt like French was delving into complex psychological issues. She took on the issue of good people that play by the rules being ruined by things that may be beyond their control. She deals with the tenuous position that family members deal with in having family members that suffer from a significant mental illness and who are not treated, whether by choice or circumstances. Mick's sister deals with what I think might by schizophrenia - at various points she talks about hallucinations - and it's painful to watch him have to go through deciding what to do when their other sibling can't help with her and yet, he has to go work. It also takes on the dire straits that Ireland's economy is in and what happens to the people that live there.

French has created a suspenseful plot while also developing believable and flawed characters. She deals with everything from the ugliness that can be police work to the everyday struggles that people have to deal with in difficult times. And she does it in a way that is lyrical, simple and yet so moving and beautiful. A must read.


  1. It wasn't a page turner like French's Faithful Places but kept my interest. The main characters are well developed. Some twists and turns. I felt a little let down with the ending.

    Marlene Detierro (Eureka Joe's)


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