Thursday, August 9, 2012

Alice's Review: Broken Harbor

Summary: Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the brash cop from Tana French’s bestselling Faithful Place, plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder squad’s top detective—and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands. On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care. At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks. And Broken Harbor holds memories for Scorcher. Seeing the case on the news sends his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family one summer at Broken Harbor, back when they were children. ~ amazon.com


Review:  The first thing you should know about Tana French is every novel she writes is better than the last.  I don’t usually read suspense/mysteries and I adore her work.  The focus of this novel is Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, the Murder Squad’s resident jerk.  He has the highest solve rate, he’s the top detective and he knows it.  Picture your classic arrogant, egotistical, narcissistic police detective and you have Scorcher.  But like all of Ms. French’s characters, what we see on the surface is far from what we get.

Below the surface is a man with two passions, his work and his family.  He keeps these separate from the other.   He’s single, a loner among the Murder Ds.  He values his work and wants to be perfect 100% of the time.  He compartmentalizes his feeling and emotions, that is, until the Broken Harbor case.  Now called Brianstown, Broken Harbor was a seaside escape, a place he would visit with his family, and the only place they all felt truly happy. 

With a new partner (Richie Curran) in tow, he works to reveal this case piece by piece.  Nothing is cut and dry in Broken Harbor.  Ms. French reveals the mystery to us through the detectives course work.  The more we get to know about the Spains, the more bizarre their story becomes.  Life isn’t so perfect for this seemingly perfect family.  A beautiful home riddled with holes in the walls and chicken wire blocking the attic hatch has the detectives and readers shaking our heads.  They discover that along with the violent death of Pat Spain, his two young children are dead also.  The only witness being Jenny Spain, hanging on to life by a thread. 

The greatest compliment that I can give Ms. French is that she pulls her readers in and holds us there.  I was determined to find a resolution with as much passion as Mick and Richie.  The one thing that drives me mad about her is Tana French leaves some things left unsaid.  Typical of her, she leaves some mystery that keeps her readers wondering.  We keep playing detective long after the novel is over.  I feel like I still need a resolution, an answer to a question she doesn’t reveal.  That sense of something left unfinished is what attracts me to her novels.

The highlight in this novel for me is Richie Curran, Mick’s partner.  Richie tackles police work the same way I tackle reading, from the heart.  He is ruled by an ingrain sense of justice that probably stems for his roots growing up on the “wrong” side of town.  Whether or not that works in his favor is something you have to find out for yourself.  Believe me, Broken Harbor is worth it.

Although each novel is stand alone, Ms. French does carry characters from one novel to the next.  In The Woods introduced us to Rob Ryan and Cassie Maddox.  The Likeness brings Cassie to the forefront and establishes Frank Mackey as a key character.  In Faithful Place, we discover more about Frank’s past and meet the Murder D’s top detective Scorcher.  I definitely recommend all her novels.  As I said earlier, each one is better than the last and because of that, you should start with In The Woods and work your way down the line.

Final Take: 5/5
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