Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad Series #4)

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The mesmerizing fourth novel of the Dublin murder squad by New York Times bestselling author Tana French

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 ...

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Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad Series #4)

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The mesmerizing fourth novel of the Dublin murder squad by New York Times bestselling author Tana French

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.

With her signature blend of police procedural and psychological thriller, French’s new novel goes full throttle with a heinous crime, creating her most complicated detective character and her best book yet.

Winner of the 2012 L.A. Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Mikey "Scorcher" Kennedy doesn't have an ally or even a friend in the whole wide world, but when it comes to solving difficult cases, this driven, no-nonsense detective has no equal. Only his latest case, a ghoulish triple homicide in an Irish seaside community holds the potential to shake his seemingly imperturbable nature. Tana French's fourth Dublin Murder squad novel spices itself suspenseful mystery with resonant atmospherics involving crumbling economic dreams and the burdens of family mental illness. Now in trade paperback and NOOK Book.

Publishers Weekly
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 Washington Post
"One of the most talented crime writers alive."
The Associated Press
“So much of the pleasure inherent in reading these novels is in trying to figure out where things are going and being constantly surprised, not to mention thoroughly spooked. I predict Broken Harbor will be on more than one Best of 2012 lists — it’s definitely at the top of mine.”
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Broken Harbor is truly a book for, and of, our broken times. It's literature masquerading as a police procedural."
The Washington Times
“These four novels have instated Ms. French as one of crime fiction’s reigning grand dames — a Celtic tigress . . . It’s not the fashion in literary fiction these days to address such things as the psychological devastation that a fallout of the middle class can wreak on those who have never known anything else, and Ms. French does it with aplomb — and a headless sparrow and dozens of infrared baby monitors."
The Wall Street Journal
“Ms. French has come to be regarded as one of the most distinct and exciting new voices in crime writing. She constructs her plots in a dreamlike, meandering fashion that seems at odds with genre's fixed narrative conventions. Sometimes, it's not even clear whodunit. Her novels have been translated into 31 languages, with 1.5 million copies in print . . . Broken Harbor has the hallmarks of a standard police procedural: a cocky homicide detective with a troubled past who educates his younger partner with pat lessons; a shocking crime that seems to defy explanation; a heart-stopping twist at the end. But Ms. French undercuts expectations at every turn. The victims begin to look less like victims; the case starts to unravel and the lead detective makes compromises that could ruin him.”
New York Daily News
“Both the characters and the crime command attention, page by page.”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“French's flair for setting and its influence on characters, as well as her elegant prose, shine in Broken Harbor. The emptiness of Brianstown becomes the modern equivalent of the spooky mansion, complete with things that go bump in the night . . . French expertly shows the importance of connecting with each other, and how fragile those bonds can be.”
NPR's Weekend Edition
"’s Laura Miller has this advice for anyone who has not yet read EVERY Tana French novel, 'Just go out and get them right now.'”
People ("Great Summer Reads")

“Part police procedural, part psychological thriller, all fun.”
“Each of French’s novels (Faithful Place, 2010) offers wonderfully complex and fully realized characters . . . French has never been less than very good, but Broken Harbor is a spellbinder.”
Entertainment Weekly
“French has that procedural pro's knack for making mundane police work seem fascinating. And she's drawn not just to the who but also to the why — those bigger mysteries about the human weaknesses that drive somebody to such inhuman brutality. What really gives BrokenHarbor its nerve-rattling force is her [French’s] exploration of events leading up to the murders, rendered just as vividly as the detectives' scramble to solve them."
Booklist (starred review)
“Each of French’s novels (Faithful Place, 2010) offers wonderfully complex and fully realized characters . . . French has never been less than very good, but Broken Harbor is a spellbinder.”
“Part police procedural, part psychological thriller, all fun.”
“Part police procedural, part psychological thriller, all fun.”
Janet Maslin
“Ms. French created haunting, damaged characters who have been hit hard by some cataclysm . . . This may sound like a routine police procedural. But like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, this summer’s other dagger-sharp display of mind games, Broken Harbor is something more.”
Laura Miller
“The fourth book in Tana French’s brilliant, genre-busting series about the (fictitious) Dublin Murder Squad . . . Invoking atmosphere is one of French’s particular gifts, and in this department, Broken Harbor (the name of the town before the developers got hold of it) is a tour de force.”
Library Journal
Each of French’s four Dublin Murder Squad novels features a different narrator, a detective engaged in the most difficult or personal case of his or her career. In this expertly plotted police procedural that examines the human cost of large-scale economic failures, Scorcher Kennedy is tasked with solving the brutal murders of a family, as well as deciphering the odd, creepy circumstances in which they’re found. His efforts are complicated by his personal connection to the area where their half-built luxury development is located and that his emotionally fragile sister is coming apart at the seams. (LJ 5/1/12)—­Stephanie Klose

(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal
French's fourth novel about the Dublin Murder Squad (In the Woods; The Likeness; Faithful Place) opens with a gruesome triple homicide in a seaside town outside of Dublin. Patrick Spain and his two children are dead, while Spain's wife, Jennie, lands in intensive care. A by-the-book officer with a hard-nosed reputation who is saddled with a rookie partner, Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy discovers further complications when he finds suspicious surveillance equipment near the Spains' apartment. But that's not all: Mick and his troubled sister, Dina, have a disturbing history with the town of Broken Harbor—dating back to a horrific childhood experience with their mentally unstable mother. Following a pattern established with French's first and second novels, this is another "chain-linked" novel, featuring a secondary character from the previous book (in this case, Faithful Place) as the protagonist. Furthermore, French uses Ireland's current economic recession as an effective backdrop for the escalating tension and calamity within the Spain family. VERDICT French's deft psychological thriller, focusing on parallel stories of mentally ill mothers and the tragedy of depression, offers a nuanced take on family relationships that will satisfy her fans and readers of psychological thrillers and police procedurals. [See Prepub Alert, 1/8/12.]—Rebecca M. Marrall, Western Washington Univ. Libs., Bellingham
Library Journal
Remember French's top cop, Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy? He's back, puzzling over the murder of Patrick Spain and his two children, found at one of those half-built luxury developments riddling now-broke Ireland; Patrick's wife, Jenny, languishes in intensive care. Weirdly, the baby cams are all turned to holes bludgeoned in the house's walls, and Jenny recalls an intruder who got past every lock. Worse, the case upends Scorcher's sister, Dina, recalling a trauma from their childhood. With Deborah Harkness's Shadow of Night, among the publisher's biggest fiction of the year; get multiples.
Kirkus Reviews
A mystery that is perfectly in tune with the times, as the ravages of the recession and the reach of the Internet complicate a murder that defies easy explanation within a seemingly loving household. The Irish author continues to distinguish herself with this fourth novel, marked by psychological acuteness and thematic depth. As has previously been the case, a supporting character from a prior work (Faithful Place, 2010, her third and best) takes center stage, as Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy attempts to penetrate the mystery of what transpired during a night that left a husband and two children dead and a wife barely clinging to life, with injuries that couldn't have been self-inflicted. Or could they? This is the most claustrophobic of French's novels, because the secrets seemingly lie within that household and with those who were either murdered or attacked within it. The setting is an upscale property development at what had once been Broken Harbor, where Kennedy's family had itself suffered a fatal trauma decades earlier. The property development has been left unfinished due to the economic downturn, which had also cost Patrick Spain his job. He and his wife, Jenny, had done their best to keep up appearances, with their marriage seemingly in harmony. Then came the attack that left Patrick and their two children dead and Jenny in intensive care. The investigative net cast by Kennedy and his younger partner encompasses Jenny's sister and some of their longtime friends, but the focus remains on the insular family. Had Patrick gone insane? Had Jenny? Was this a horrific murder-suicide or had someone targeted a family that had no apparent enemies? Says Scorcher, "In every way there is, murder is chaos. Our job is simple, when you get down to it: we stand against that, for order." Yet Scorcher's own sanity, or at least his rigid notions of right and wrong, will fall into question in a novel that turns the conventional notions of criminals and victims topsy-turvy. The novel rewards the reader's patience: There are complications, deliberations and a riveting resolution.
The New York Times Book Review
In most crime novels, good cops and decent people court tragedy by disobeying the rules of society. But the stories French tells reflect our own savage times: the real trouble starts when you play fair and do exactly as you're told.
—Marilyn Stasio
The New York Times
Tana French's devious, deeply felt psychological chiller…may sound like a routine police procedural. But like Gillian Flynn's Gone GirlBroken Harbor is something more. It's true that Ms. French takes readers to all the familiar way stations of a murder investigation: the forensics, the autopsies, the serial interrogations and so on. But she has urgent points to make about the social and economic underpinnings of the Spain family murders. And she has irresistibly sly ways of toying with readers' expectations.
—Janet Maslin
The Washington Post
…begins as a police procedural and evolves into a psychological thriller of exceptional complexity and depth…Broken Harbor provides a fascinating and suspenseful plot, believable characters and writing that is precise, knowing and lyrical. Underlying it all is a formidable intelligence, one that moves relentlessly from a family tragedy to the ugly side of police work to the sorrows of a generation…proves anew that [French] is one of the most talented crime writers alive.
—Patrick Anderson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670023653
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/24/2012
  • Series: Dublin Murder Squad Series , #4
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 375,905
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Tana French

Tana French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi, and has lived in Dublin since 1990. She trained as a professional actress at Trinity College, Dublin, and has worked in theatre, film and voiceover. she is the author of Faithful Place, The Likeness, and In the Woods, which won Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for first novel. She lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter.

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Read an Excerpt

I used to know Broken Harbor like the back of my hand, when I was a skinny little guy with home-cut hair and mended jeans. Kids nowadays grew up on sun holidays during the boom, two weeks in the Costa del Sol is their bare minimum. But I’m forty-two and our generation had low expectations. A few days by the Irish Sea in a rented caravan put you ahead of the pack.

Broken Harbor was nowhere, back then. A dozen scattered houses full of families named Whelan or Lynch who’d been there since evolution began, a shop called Lynch’s and a pub called Whelan’s, and a handful of caravan spaces, just a fast barefoot run over slipping sand dunes and between tufts of marram grass to the cream-colored sweep of beach. We got two weeks there every June, in a rusty four-bunker that my dad booked a year in advance.

The three of us were up and out at daybreak with a slice of bread and sugar in each hand. We had all-day games of pirates with the kids from the other caravans, went freckly and peeling from salt and windburn and the odd hour of sunshine. For tea my mother would fry up eggs and sausages on a camping stove, and afterwards my father would send us to Lynch’s for ice creams. We’d come back to find my mum sitting on his lap, leaning her head into the curve of his neck and smiling dreamily out at the water; he’d wind her hair around his free hand, so the sea breeze wouldn’t whip it into her ice cream. I waited all year to see them look like that.

Once I got the Beemer off the main roads I started remembering the route, like I had known I would, just a faded sketch at the back of my head: past this clump of trees—taller, now—left at that kink in the stone wall. Right where the water should have risen into view over a low green hill, though, the estate came charging up out of nowhere and blocked our way like a barricade: rows of slate roofs and white gables stretching for what looked like miles in either direction, behind a high breeze-block wall. The signboard at the entrance said, in flamboyant curly lettering the size of my head, WELCOME TO OCEAN VIEW, BRIANSTOWN. A NEW REVELATION IN PREMIER LIVING. LUXURY HOUSES AND APARTMENTS NOW VIEWING. Someone had spray painted a big red cock and balls over it.

At first glance, Ocean View looked pretty tasty: big detached houses that gave you something substantial for your money, trim strips of green, quaint signposts pointing you towards LITTLE GEMS CHILDCARE and DIAMONDCUT LEISURE CENTER. Second glance, the grass needed weeding and there were gaps in the footpaths. Third glance, something was wrong.

The houses were too much alike. Even on the ones where a triumphant red-and-blue sign yelled SOLD, no one had painted the front door a crap color, put flowerpots on the windowsills or tossed plastic kiddie toys on the lawn. There was a scattering of parked cars, but most of the driveways were empty, and not in a way that said everyone was out powering the economy. You could look straight through three out of four houses, to bare rear windows and gray patches of sky. A heavyset girl in a red anorak was shoving a buggy along a footpath, wind grabbing at her hair. She and her moon-faced kid could have been the only people within miles.

“Jaysus,” Richie said; in the silence his voice was loud enough that both of us jumped. “The village of the damned.”

• *

The door of the house was a few inches open, swaying gently when the breeze caught it. When it was in one piece it had looked like solid oak, but where the uniforms had splintered it away from the lock you could see the powdery reconstituted crap underneath. It had probably taken them one shove. Through the crack: a geometric black-and-white rug, high-trend with a high price tag to match.

I said to Richie, “This is just a preliminary walk-through. The serious stuff can wait till the Bureau lads have the scene on record. For now, we don’t touch anything, we try not to stand on anything, we try not to breathe on anything, we get a basic sense of what we’re dealing with and we get out. Ready?”

He nodded. I pushed the door open with one fingertip on the splintered edge.

My first thought was that if this was what Garda Whatever called disorder, he had OCD issues. The hallway was dim and perfect: sparkling mirror, organized coatrack, smell of lemon room freshener. The walls were clean. On one of them was a watercolor, something green and peaceful with cows.

My second thought: the Spains had had an alarm system. The panel was a fancy modern one, discreetly tucked away behind the door. The OFF light was a steady yellow.

Then I saw the hole in the wall. Someone had moved the phone table in front of it, but it was big enough that a jagged half-moon still poked out. That was when I felt it: that needle-fine vibration, starting in my temples and moving down the bones into my eardrums. Some detectives feel it in the backs of their necks, some get it in the hair on their arms—I know one poor sap who gets it in the bladder, which can be inconvenient—but all the good ones feel it somewhere. It gets me in the skull bones. Call it what you want—social deviance, psychological disturbance, the animal within, evil if you believe in that: it’s the thing we spend our lives chasing. All the training in the world won’t give you that warning when it comes close. You get it or you don’t.

I took a quick look at Richie: grimacing and licking his lips, like an animal that’s tasted something putrid. He got it in his mouth, which he would need to learn to hide, but at least he got it.

Off to our left was a half-open door: sitting room. Straight ahead, the stairs and the kitchen.

Someone had put time into doing up the sitting room. Brown leather sofas, sleek chrome-and-glass coffee table, one wall painted butter yellow for one of those reasons that only women and interior designers understand. For the lived-in look, there was a good big telly, a Wii, a scattering of glossy gadgets, a little shelf for paperbacks and another one for DVDs and games, candles and blond photos on the mantelpiece of the gas fire. It should have felt welcoming, but damp had buckled the flooring and blotched a wall, and the low ceiling and the just-wrong proportions were stubborn. They outweighed all that loving care and turned the room cramped and dim, a place where no one could feel comfortable for long.

Curtains almost drawn, just the crack that the uniforms had looked through. Standing lamps on. Whatever had happened, it had happened at night, or someone wanted me to think it had.

Above the gas fire was another hole in the wall, about the size of a dinner plate. There was a bigger one by the sofa. Pipes and straggling wires half showed from the dark inside.

Beside me Richie was trying to keep the fidgeting down to a minimum, but I could feel one knee jiggling. He wanted the bad moments over and done with. I said, “Kitchen.”

It was hard to believe that the same guy who had designed the sitting room had come up with this. It was a kitchen-cum-dining-room-cum-playroom, running the whole length of the back of the house, and it was mostly made of glass. Outside the day was still gray, but the light in that room was full and dazzling enough to make you blink, with a lift and a clarity that told you the sea was very near. I’ve never been able to see why it’s supposed to be a plus if your neighbors can check out what you’re having for breakfast—give me net-curtain privacy any day, trendy or not—but that light almost made me understand.

The room was an estate agent’s dream, except that it was impossible to imagine anyone living there, ever again. Some frantic struggle had thrown the table over, slamming one corner into a window and cracking a great star across the glass. More holes in the walls: one high above the table, a big one behind an overturned Lego castle. A beanbag had burst open and spilled tiny white pellets everywhere; a trail of cookbooks fanned out across the floor, shards of glass glinted where a picture frame had smashed. The blood was everywhere: fans of spatter flying up the walls, crazy trails of drips and footprints crisscrossing the tile floor, wide smears on the windows, thick clumps soaked into the yellow fabric of the chairs. A few inches from my feet was one ripped half of a height chart, big beanstalk leaves and a climbing cartoon kid, Emma 17/06/09 almost obliterated by clotting red.

Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from Broken Harbor by Tana French. Copyright © 2012 by Tana French. Available July 24, 2012 wherever books are sold.

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Interviews & Essays

Ghost Estates — Ireland after the Bubble: Barnes & Noble Review Interview with Tana French

The first time I interviewed Tana French, two weeks before the U.S. release of her debut novel, In the Woods, she was careful to clarify that, although she did have a background as an actress, she was not to be confused with Tana French, the actress who played a nude model chased by a gorilla in the 1962 B-movie The Wild and the Naked (Tana French, the author, was born in 1973). The other Tana French wasn't exactly world famous, but back in the spring of 2007, she was the highest-ranked Tana French in U.S. Google results.

Five years later that B-movie actress is likely explaining to someone that she is not the Dublin-based author of four acclaimed, psychologically incisive literary mysteries. ("Who knows?" says French. "Maybe she's saying, 'Hang, on. I have more sense than to do that for a living.' ") Although Tana French, the author, spent a decade working as a theater actress before taking a break to write her first novel, the novels have long since won out as her day job and become bestsellers. All four take place among the fictional detectives of the Dublin Murder Squad, and technically they are all police procedurals: As she says, "Somebody gets killed; somebody else finds out who did it; and along the way, they use the tools available."

But while French writes great murder mysteries (her very first novel won the Edgar Award), her novels hold up equally well as literary fiction and are regularly recognized as such by critics. Part of her strength in constructing believable characters comes, no doubt, from her theatrical training: she has an impeccable and uncanny ear for dialogue; delves deeply into each character's motivation; and choreographs intricate scenes of psychological tension, personal drama, hilarity, and grief. When it comes to creating an original, authentic narrative voice, she's easily one of the most accomplished writers working today.

With each novel, those voices get more astonishing. Rob, who narrated In the Woods, and his partner, Cassie, who narrated the second book, The Likeness, may well have fit right in with French and her scraping-by actor friends at the Dublin pubs where she spent her twenties and early thirties. Each, however, spoke in a voice entirely distinct from the others. (French likes to take a secondary character from one novel and make him or her the narrator of the next.) For her third novel, Faithful Place, she created the character of Frank Mackey, a loner undercover divorced detective in his forties who escapes his dead- end working-class block and manipulative family, only to come back when he realizes his first girlfriend was murdered. That novel obsessively depicted the subtlest markers of class and character, from accents to TVs and trainers.

French's Broken Harbor takes an even bigger risk: Her narrator, Scorcher Kennedy, is the guy who spent the entirety of Faithful Place being mocked by Frank Mackey for being uptight, unimaginative, and — worst of all for any character one with whom one plans to spend several hundred pages — boring.

But in French's hands, even the boring guy gets his turn. Says Scorcher: "Only teenagers think boring is bad. Adults, grown men and women who've been around the block a few times know that boring is a gift straight from God." The case he's on is a family homicide — father and two kids killed; mother barely hanging on — in a suburban estate built during the boom years but now, post mortgage crisis, rapidly sliding into a scary no-man's-land or "ghost estate," to use French's evocative term. Like Scorcher himself, Pat and Jenny Spain were the kind of people who "want what they are supposed to want," who do things in the right order and the right way. The novel ends up being a timely, empathetic deeply philosophical morality play on wealth, art, conformity, economics and class; fiction as instructional and probing as any essay. I spoke to Tana French from her home in Dublin. —Amy Benfer

The Barnes & Noble Review: Your narrator is Detective Scorcher Kennedy, who spent all of your last novel, Faithful Place, portrayed through the eyes of undercover cop Frank Mackey as an insufferable prig: He spoke entirely in platitudes, he was loathsome, competitive, and small-minded. When I first heard the book was told from his perspective, I found it entirely perverse of you to choose this guy. But then you managed to pull it off. He is that man, and yet you somehow managed to make him somehow sympathetic.

Tana French: Thank, God. I was terrified. In Faithful Place, he's this pompous, up-his-own-arse little git, but that's partly because that's what Frank needs to see. Frank just found out that his first love was murdered. He's looking for an enemy to fight against. Until he finds the person who killed her, Scorcher will do just fine.

I had originally planned to make Stephen Moran, the young upcoming sidekick from Faithful Place, the narrator. But then the more I thought about these ghost estates, the more I realized that the people who are stuck on these ghost estates are the people who followed the rules, and the rules let them down. I thought, Well, that doesn't gel with Stephen. Trying to do your best, to follow the rules, to be what you are supposed to be: That's Scorcher, not Stephen. Even his language, as you said, is based on platitudes. It's structured entirely around the way you are supposed to say things. And so obviously this is his book. And I thought, Oh God. I don't know if I want to spend two years in his head.

BNR: When I used to write on the Nancy Drew mysteries, I would joke about how in those novels, class was often presented as a clue. For example, the poor girl would show up at the fanciest dress shop in town, which Nancy cleverly discerned she couldn't possibly afford, or the disheveled housekeeper did it, or the villains were swarthy in some vaguely ethnic way. It was this very clumsy — and often bigoted — take on class. But your last two novels — Faithful Place and now in Broken Harbor — the mysteries themselves seem to rely on a very sophisticated understanding the tics and prejudices and blind spots that go on in every social class.

TF: Ireland is such a young society. The British were the ruling class up until they left about a hundred years ago, and we've been trying to work out what our class hierarchy is ever since. There's a much more secure sense of identity in the working classes. Whereas the middle classes and the upper classes we've got — I'm not sure we've got any — are struggling for identity, because they didn't really exist in the same way until relatively recently. People are within a few generations of being broke and working-class, so they still kind of struggle for definition.

I think you see that especially in Broken Harbor. You see people who aren't coming from that very securely rooted kind of place where they know who they are and everyone in sight knows who you are and has known who you are for generations. During the boom, people suddenly had money, and that was taken as being the definer of class in a very definite, inarguable way. Therefore, because you were in such need of defining yourself, of finding your place within the social hierarchy, you had to buy as many status indicators as you possibly can. OK, I know where I am; you know where I am. I'm driving this particular SUV, therefore I have this particular identity.

BNR: So that brings us straight to the Spains, members of the striver class, who are found murdered with their two children in their pretty suburban home. It's both funny and tragic that, this novel begins in a falling-down subdivision — a place that looks great on the outside but is literally hollow on the inside and will not stand the test of time.

TF: I don't think you get any more symbolic than these places. I don't know if it happened the same way in America, these "ghost estates." During the boom, because of this horrible web of corruption between government and property developers, the developers started building stuff that frankly nobody needed or wanted. Our generation, the thirty-somethings, were the ones who were being told, Look, this is your only chance to get on the property ladder. Property values are skyrocketing. You buy something off the plans, in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely no infrastructure. Well, of course you don't want it. But within five years, it will have doubled in value, and you'll be able to sell it off and buy something in town that you do want, and everything will be wonderful forever.

And then the crash came and the property developers just left. A huge chunk of our generation are stranded there and they can't get out now. How much more symbolic can it get? This thing that was presented as this gateway to a dream is now just disintegrating around them. You get kids joyriding and squatters. They don't have street lights, they don't have proper sewage removal, they're just there in the middle of the chaos that they thought they were avoiding forever.

BNR: Which is ironic, because that's where people moved to have a "safe family home" away from the perceived danger and lawlessness of the cities.

TF: Exactly. That's the whole irony. The ones who moved there are the ones who really wanted to do the right thing. They really wanted to have their nice family life, your picket fence, your 2.4 children, and a Labrador. It's all turning inside out, basically. And Richie [Scorcher's partner] ended up being all right, because he's from an inner-city neighborhood. He actually does know who he is. Whereas the Spains have been uprooted from who and what they are and been stripped bare in the middle of nothing, with no rootedness left.

BNR: There's a certain justice to that. There is an odd sort of inversion between this book and Faithful Place. In that book, when Frank gets out of his working-class neighborhood, he seems to become more confident, and more himself. But what you are saying about Richie, then, is nearly the opposite: Richie is coming from the kind of neighborhood that Frank left behind, yet coming from that neighborhood is what makes someone like Richie more substantial than someone like Scorcher and the Spains, strivers who are always afraid that with one wrong move, their identity can be taken away at any time.

TF: Frank, much as he thought that escaping was his only option, is still defined very much by that neighborhood he got away from. As far as you go, you still carry it with you. You can cut yourself off from it, but you still have the shape of it printed on you. That defines him even as he's fighting against it. But Richie doesn't have that conflicted thing that Frank has. He's got no beef with being working-class and from being from the neighborhood he is from. And the implication is that he's from a worse one than Frank: Rather than being from a working-class neighborhood, he's from a non-working-class neighborhood. Scorcher doesn't trust his own mind and his own instincts to lead him right. He needs guidance from the outside. He needs the rules, he needs a manual. He believes that his own mind is unreliable. Whereas Richie, again, for better or worse, considers his own mind to be his most reliable guidance.

BNR: One of the things that is so exhilarating to see in Broken Harbor is that the return of the intellectual and emotional interplay between squad partners that we haven't seen since Cassie and Rob in In the Woods. In this case, Richie and Scorcher have a cross-age and cross-class romance, and there is not the possibility of them literally romancing each other as Cassie and Rob may have done. But there's many moments when Scorcher gets as swoony as a girl picking out her wedding dress, imagining the two of them, five, ten, fifteen years down the road. It's very funny, given that this is a guy who doesn't want to want anything, and when he does, he wants something very specific: Even women are supposed to look exactly like what women are supposed to look like. He doesn't do quirky. And yet here's Richie, this guy who is from the wrong neighborhood, the wrong accent, the wrong class, and you just stand back and watch as Scorcher falls in love with him....

TF: That's exactly what I was thinking about it as. He's thinking, Well, maybe we can have a future together! He's somehow gone slightly infatuated on a professional level. I do think there's something slightly — funny? pathetic? — about him fastening on to this thing. I think that's what happens when you spend so much time trying to maintain control. You just can't forever be like that "I am in total control of my life! I am an android! I am a bionic man!" You're going to need a hand sooner or later. And I think that's where Scorcher's head is at with Richie. In some ways, he would be the perfect partner for him. They have very differing takes on things and they balance each other very well.

BNR: You used to hear the phrase "lace curtain Irish." How would that compare to the new "young professional couple in the subdivisions Irish"? It seems like both are accused of putting on airs, or pretending to be better than others.

TF: Both are defined by the idea that you are what others see. The "lace curtain Irish" would say, It doesn't matter if inside everyone is drunk and chaotic and throwing stuff and you don't have a penny to your name, as long as the lace curtains are nice and clean and you go to Sunday Mass and everyone outside the house sees everything in place. That's been a part of Irish society forever.

But the value system on which it's based has changed. "Lace curtain Irish" to me implies that they are Catholic. Going to Mass would be a large part of it, and everything being clean and tidy. Whereas the striver generation like the Spains, the value system is less on Catholicism and more on money and status symbols. So it's not whether you show up for Mass, it's where you went on holiday for your honeymoon. That's become the equivalent indicator of virtue. It's switched from showing up at Mass and having the finest Communion dress on the block to going on holiday and having the right car. But it's very much the same thing. It's that reliance on symbol and surface as indicators of moral value.

BNR: In this book, you contrast between the people who define their moral worth by having the right things and doing things in the right order — Scorcher, the Spains — and with characters like Jenny Spain's sister, Fiona, a photographer, who wants something a little more complicated. It must make it so much easier to be goal-oriented and thus, to "win," if you know what the hell the goal is. But as the novel makes it clear, it also makes it so much easier to know when you lose.

TF: These are people who, again, have relied on indicators outside themselves. When those indicators all go haywire, they don't have an inner map, because they never had to build one. The Spains did everything right. They followed the formula. They stuck to the manual word for word. And all of the sudden, everything has just fallen all around them.

Whereas someone like Fiona has never had the luxury of believing that she is following a path that is simple and clearly illuminated. When a recession turns up, and everything goes upside down for her, and she's not getting photography work, she has inner touchstones. She can say, OK, I didn't get that exhibition or I didn't get that gig, but I know, because I've spent ages developing my own eye for this, that my recent work is better than my work from two years ago, therefore I know that I am moving somewhere.

It's much easier in good times to want you are supposed to want. I think that's really what defines life: Whether you want what you're supposed to want, or whether you want things you are not supposed to want. In good times, it's much, much easier if you want what you are supposed to want, but in bad times, I really don't think it is.

BNR: So for people like the Spains, to whom material wealth represents morality, even religion, to be unable to afford their previous lifestyle — say, losing their SUV — represents a moral failure.

TF: Yes. If you can't maintain your financial lifestyle, then you have somehow become tainted, brought down on the moral ranking. I've got this theory that human beings are innately religious; we have a belief system. It doesn't have to be a theist form, necessarily. But we need a belief system, some framework on which to hang our behavior. The influence of the Catholic Church eroded very quickly in Ireland, which I don't think is a bad thing. But it left a vacuum. And people filled that vacuum with a money-based belief system. Money and health. It's not just a health choice: it's somehow a more morally worthy choice to not smoke, not drink, to eat your organic vegetables.

BNR: It's not giving much of the plot away to say that when a family is killed at home, the first suspect is often the father. From early on, readers are asked to consider the possibility that Pat Spain couldn't handle the financial and emotional chaos of being out of work and offed his family. I wrote a piece on these so-called Father Knows Best killings about a decade ago [Note: For readers interested in these kind of killings, Julie Salomon's Facing the Wind is a fascinating nonfiction look at one such case]. As I remember, people who believe to their core that patriarchy and the traditional family are the only way to live can come to believe that their family is actually better off dead than going on living in reduced circumstances.

TF: I've read up on these killings, too, these family annihilator killings. And in these cases, the father is someone who is very used to being in control of everything. When that control goes, he feels like the threat of chaos is so enormous that it's actually worse than death. Whatever it is — financial, psychological chaos - - is so much worse that he just prevents it by killing the whole family.

BNR: In their own head, it's seen as a mercy killing. Because who would want to live without the security of a traditional, affluent family?

TF: Oh yes. Totally.

BNR: So the family is God?

TF: Yes, it's very much that. Everything is spiraling toward hell and the best thing you can do is just wipe the slate clean.

BNR: Recently, the American press has been floating the idea that many people with money have less empathy; that money makes people mean. That's also an idea that you introduce in the book. At one point, Fiona, the artist, talks about how bitchy Jenny and her publicist friends are to each other — the kind of mean girls that will mock each other for going a few days without topping up their fake tans. When things go down for the Spains, they are hunkered down in this house that literally has glass walls where the neighbors can witness their decline. According to their own belief system, their financial decline is also a moral decline, and they expect to be mocked and judged for it. Do you think there's something to this idea that money makes you mean?

TF: During the boom years, you did get people being very vicious toward each other for not having quite the right status symbols. Again, my friends have always been a whole bunch of broke actors, where you never knew if you would have enough money to pay the phone bill and buy milk. During the boom years, that made us feel a little bit — alienated is probably too strong a word, but marginalized. There would be all these news articles about how everybody is doing so wonderfully, the nation is doing so brilliantly, and here's all of us going, "We're not. When you talk about the nation, when you talk about the economy, you clearly don't mean us. We're not mentioned. We don't have any role in the national narrative anymore." It was a very strange time.

BNR: And yet while your earliest narrators — Rob from Into the Woods and Cassie from The Likeness — seemed like they would have fit right in with you and your broke actor friends, I find it interesting and admirable that you managed to create sympathetic characters out of the kind of people with whom you wouldn't seem to have much in common.

TF: These people, the equivalent of the Spains, were the kind of people who weren't particularly nice to me and my friends during the boom. They explicitly and by implication looked down on us and thought that we were worth less than them because we had less money. But I thought, I can't write these characters with the author's judgment being implied. I can't be going, "Who do you think you are?" or "I think this is shallow" or "I think this is superficial" or "You've got no morals." All of that is irrelevant because for these characters, that's not who they are. No one thinks they are shallow, superficial people with no moral center. They are doing these things for excellent reasons. It's my job to get to that reason and give that reason with all the power and punch I could.

The same applies to Scorcher. In his own mind, Scorcher is desperately killing himself to do things right. I thought, if I can get that, that he's not just this pompous git, that he has a reason for being what he is, and he puts passion into it, just as the Spains put passion into being who they are. Even though it may look as if they are just this wad of fake tan and Hugo Boss, they are putting the same passion and determination into that that Fiona is putting into the struggle of living on small wages and desperately trying to get a photography exhibition up and running. It just comes out differently.

If you are going to be on the artist's side of the fence, your job is to place a bit token in the jar of empathy. You don't get to abdicate that purely because you are dealing with people who in real life you find completely uninteresting. If I was going to write this book — and the idea was there; it's not like I had another one — it's my job to make sure that these characters had the space to make their argument. And I figured, if they did, if I did that with the respect that it deserves, that with any luck — please God and touch wood! — Scorcher would not turn out to be an obnoxious person to spend several hundred pages with and the Spains would not turn out to be unsympathetic victims. I have to say I have no clue if it worked.

BNR: Not unlike Fiona, you spent all your twenties and your early thirties just scraping by working as in the theater, then writing your first novel. And yet, you are now the bestselling author of four novels; one does assume that you have had a larger measure of critical and material success than you probably planned for. Do you have any reflection on how it feels to stumble into material success through artistic success, especially having just written a book about people who strive for material success and are more or less ruined by it?

TF: I think it would have been very different if it had happened ten years earlier. I was thirty-three when all this started happening. By then, you have a very clear idea of who you are. It's not like at twenty-three I had written something that became very successful. I think that would have changed my perception of who I was and where I fit into this world. I think I'm always going to think of myself as the same broke actor bouncing along from week to week and hoping there's enough for a few pints. Because even though it's not true anymore, that's who I was during all the time your identity gets shaped. I'm never going to think of myself as "Bestselling writer Tana French," because by the time that happened, my sense of identity was already very much shaped.

BNR: But of course, you once thought acting was your art. Does that transformation feel natural now? Do you miss acting? Are you going to go back to acting in your forties?

TF: I do miss it. It's so social. I'm so used to the idea that you all work together all day, and then you all go to the pub together. And yes, I really miss the stage. I think if I had been a film actor, it might have been quite easy to go to an agent and say, "Look, I can't do a big gig, but can you set me up for something that's maybe five days' work?" But in the theater, there's no such thing. There's maybe four weeks rehearsal, then four weeks on the show. That's two months out of a writing schedule. My publishers get to poke me with sticks if I do something like that.

I love writing. I feel ridiculously lucky that this is what I get to do all day. I love acting, too, but this is the one that was working out. This is the one that not only pays the mortgage but also lets me work every day. With acting, you have to depend on somebody else to decide if you are allowed to work. You can spend weeks and months when you are not acting at all. With this, not only, my God, do I get paid to work every day, but even when I was not, I could still work every day. No one could stop me. I've got a pen, I've got a notebook, I'm good to go. That's a marvelous thing.

July 24, 2012

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 135 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2012

    Sadly--a real mixed bag

    I LOVE Tana French and have long felt she has only gotten better with each "Dublin Squad" novel--"Faithful Place" is outstanding and one of the best books I've read in the last decade. I waited very impatiently for two years for the new installment--but I cannot rate "Harbor" above three stars.

    On the PLUS side:

    ***An incredibly creepy crime and once the novel reveals the reasons behind it--OMG; I'm reeling.

    ***French's uncanny knack for language and dialogue--she is superb in making her characters HEARD. She is cinematic in her use of language.

    The DOWN side:

    ***While I have always loved French's technique of centering a novel around a character previously introduced in a previous novel--Scorcher may have not been the best choice. He's so patently unlikeable, so smug, pretentious and judgemental that [SPOILER-ISH]even when he does get his comeuppance--it wasn't enough. While "Faithful's" Frank is a hard man to like, his charm and inner vulnerablity carry him; even Rob from the first novel is more grabbing than Scorcher. NO character caught me; NO character made me care enough...the Spain family, yes...but not the major characters. PLEASE bring back Cassie or Frank!

    ***Scorcher's crazy sister is so horrible I couldn't get past her but even she didn't make me care enough about Scorcher. I wanted her GONE.

    ***TOO much repetitive conversation with the partner, witnesses--it just drags; by page 200 you've read the same speculation and theories to the point of screaming; unlike the other novels, the dysfunctional family backstory just is not intriguing. I could not care about Kennedy's family (although it explained a lot about him) and felt it simply took away from the main crime. Editing? Probably needs more.

    I LOVE Tana French--just not this book--but I will wait, impatiently, for book four--like I said--can we find out what Cassie and/or Frank are doing??

    16 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 24, 2012

    With 'Broken Harbor', Tana French has once again brought us a th

    With 'Broken Harbor', Tana French has once again brought us a thrilling police procedural with lots of 'crazy' psychological turns and twists. Veteran detective , 'Scorcher' and his new rookie detective, Richie, explore means and methods of working togetherness to solve a terrible tragedy.

    The 'perfect' couple, with their 6 year old Emma, and 3 year old Jack, have been living in the partially developed 'Broken Harbor' by the sea for about a year when their tragedies strikes them. At first it's builders going broke after just starting a new community development. Most of their houses are empty or not completed. All the extras---shops, parks, community centers---have not even begun to be built. But the Spaines and their two children find themselves living there in their new 'dream house' that is anything but a dream. Eventually more tragedy strikes and our story begins with two dead children in their beds, and a bloody mess in the kitchen, where Patrick lies dead with his barely alive wife curled up beside him.

    Tana French expertly uses today's headlines to develop her psychological story line. Builders going broke, homes empty, job loses becoming more prevalent amongst the 'climbing' middle classes, and message boards on computers becoming the primary source for information, communications, and the hope of helpful comforting solutions to life's problems.

    Mix this case in with a developing working relationship with a veteran and rookie cop, add in a less than admirable fellow officer, plus a large dose of our veteran cop's nearly psychotic sister, and top it off with a stalking 'best friend'. What do you have? Another winning read from Tana French!! Be prepared to keep reading till you complete this book once you open the first pages. I was on page 100 before I realized that we'd not even left the scene of the crime yet, and I was loving it!!

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 29, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Really great book. Kept me entertained all the way.

    Really great book. Kept me entertained all the way.

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 21, 2012

    I would give five stars to each of the three previous Tana Frenc

    I would give five stars to each of the three previous Tana French books
    and really looked forward to Broken Harbor. It was a disappointment, a
    waste of money and precious time. I only kept going because it was Tana
    French, after all. I skimmed over pages and pages of dialogue that
    didn't go anywhere and more pages and pages of the animal in the attic

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2012

    A cut above the usual in this genre.

    Like Denise Mina, French creates incredibly real characters, pokes at big questions about life and human nature, includes intense psychological drama in an enthralling story. A complete book. Very good literature first and then a crime novel. I have read all her books. I recommend every one. I could hardly wait for this book which is as great as the rest.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2012

    I couldn't put this book down...just brilliant!

    I couldn't put this book down...just brilliant!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2013

    So repetitive with boring plot!

    Love a good mystery anytime and the subject matter seemed interesting but in the end it was dissatisfying and a let down. The plot kept building but it never fulfilled its promise. Very disappointing and not sure what the whole point was. Don't waste your time.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2012

    Bored bored bored

    Ive read ms. French's previous books and loved them. I was very bored with broken harbor. Couldnt wait til the end so it'd be over.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy is the top detective in the Mu

    Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy is the top detective in the Murder
    Squad. He is now partnered with rookie Richie Curran, just out of
    uniform. Kennedy has dropped down to #2 in solve rates in his
    department. Then he is handed what should be a dream case. Patrick
    Spain and his two children are found dead in one of the half-built/half
    abandoned "luxury developments" in a place called Brainstown.
    His wife Jenny is in intensive care. What was first thought to be an
    easy case turns out to be a lot harder when too many clues can't be
    explained. The neighborhood used to be called Broken Harbor and
    Kennedy's family has a little history with the place. His sister Dina
    freaks out when she sees the case on the news. She is remembering
    something about the summer they spent there as kids. Something
    "Scorcher" thought was deeply buried. Kennedy has his hands
    full as he tries to solve the case and keep his sister safe and out of
    trouble. I was so looking forward to reading this book. It really had
    me well past halfway but then it just seemed to fall apart. This book
    is a police procedural type story which I usually find very interesting.
    This one started really good but after the middle is really started to
    drag and got boring. Yes, boring. I found myself barely skimming through
    the pages just to get to the end. I had figured out who-dun-it very
    early on and all the dialogue, tons of dialogue was just filling pages
    to tell readers what we already knew. Then at the end there were still
    so many questioned answered. Almost 500 pages and we are left to wonder
    about so much. What really upset me was when the lead character started
    to make some choices a man in his position would never make. A law and
    order guy would not risk his career this way. As far as the other
    characters, his other sister Geri just seems to be too lackadaisical
    about their sister, Dina, with the mental heath issues. Dina was just
    plain annoying. My verdict is still out on the rookie Curran, he could
    develop into a solid character in a future installment. I have enjoyed
    other French novels and by the end of this one I was even questioning if
    she had really written this story. I got to the end and realized I
    really knew nothing about Mike Kennedy. The man had absolutely no real
    back story. His life was his job occasionally uninterrupted by his crazy
    sister. I know Tana French is a much better writer than this and I hope
    her next book is shorter and full of the dynamic characters and the
    thrills I know she can deliver.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    L Not Tana French's best just ok

    Her writing is amazing but the only part i really felt sucked me in was when the wife was describing how her and her husband reached that final point. I got it.

    Still looking forward to her next novel. Still a huge fan.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2012

    A real disappointment after Faithful Place

    So Tana French spoiled all of us with Faithful Place, which was outstanding in every way. I expected Broken Harbor to meet or exceed her work in Faithful Place, but what a disappointment. She is undoubtedly an excellent writer, and has that rare ability to catch, hold and keep the reader page after page after page. Unfortunately, that didn't happen here. The story line was muddled and key characters not well developed. I felt like I read the entire book through a smudged window. All that said, I do look forward to her next book. (I thought Faithful Place was that good.)

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2015

    Got this book at the thrift store for $1......I was ripped off!

    Got this book at the thrift store for $1......I was ripped off! I've read her others and liked them but this one was a waste of my time and I'm retired!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 28, 2014

    French is an excellent writer.  Perfect ear fro dialogue, intere

    French is an excellent writer.  Perfect ear fro dialogue, interesting plot.  She kept me to the end on a rainy afternoon.  But, like Donna Tartt, French needs an editor with more control over the material.  I figured out who dunnit  way sooner than I should have, and some situations were enlarged upon to the point of agony for the reader.  The wild animal, the details of Conor's infatuation,s, every detail was  worked to death.  This could have been a much stronger book with proper tightening.  But for  French's organizational sense, her sharp ear for dialogue, and her general all around talent, Broken Harbor gets three stars from me.  

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2014

    Tana French is brilliant

    Fourth in the series, she evojes a tremendous sense of place, of longing and into her charachters souls,

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 22, 2014

    Broken Harbor follows murder squad detective Mick "Scorcher

    Broken Harbor follows murder squad detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy who was the detective investigating Rosie and Kevin's murders
    in the previous book in this series, Faithful Place.

    So in Faithful Place we first met Scorcher but to tell you the truth I did not particularly care for him, some characters you like some you
    don't, but anyway I wasn't to keen when I first started reading Broken Harbor because I held onto a little prejudice against him from the
    previous book. However, I soon changed my mind about old Scorcher once I got to know him past the egotistical attitude that he uses
    as a shield to keep the dark things from his past from devouring him.

    This was a hard read not just because of Scorcher, but because two of the victims are children, young children. So you have been
    warned don't read further if you cannot stand it.

    Patrick Spain, wife Jenny and their two children, Emma and Jack, seemed to be a wonderful family. Even though they were going through
    some money issues since Patrick got laid off from his job they still appeared happy, appeared being the word here. But underneath
    Patrick and Jenny were both becoming unstable and both of the children were in danger. 

    This story has many supporting characters and a web of lies and deceit that are to complicated to try and summarize in the book review
    so this is going to be short and more of a teaser than most of my reviews.

    Scorcher gets assigned to the case at Broken Harbor, Patrick is dead as is Emma and Jack, and Jenny is badly injured and on her way
    to the hospital not sure if she will make it or not. High-profile does not even begin to describe a case where children have been murdered
    and Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, are going to have to get this one right or else. 

    There is a back story to the setting of Broken Harbor and how it relates to those dark things from Scorcher's past, for before it was a
    development it use to be the beach where his family would go during the summer to stay and it is also where Scorcher's mother walked
    into the ocean one day and killed herself. The really sad part is she had tried to walk into the ocean with Scorcher's youngest sister, Dina,
    but she survived whereas her mother did not. Their whole world turned upside down, mother dead, father overcome with grief that he just
    shut down, and Scorcher with sister Geri pretty much raised Dina who is bogged down with a lot of mental issues stemming from
    her experience that night on the beach with her mother. So Dina flip flops out of Scorcher's life right when he needs to be completely
    on the job but he constantly is worried about his sister while trying to track down the murderer.

    Scorcher and Richie finally have a suspect in custody, Conor Brennan, Pat and Jenny's friend from when they were kids, he was even
    Emma's godfather, but due to some spat they had a falling out and Conor was no longer involved in their lives. Well they were wrong,
    for Conor had set up in one of the abandoned homes in the development and was watching the Spain's house. Creepy right!

    Scorcher thinks they got their man but Richie is not so sure and keeps putting pressure on Scorcher to keep checking out Pat, Scorcher
    agrees even though his is so sure Conor was the doer. What Scorcher doesn't know though is that Richie pocketed evidence that directly
    implicates someone else, neither Conor nor Pat, and if it wasn't for Dina, his sister, than Scorcher may have never known of its existence.

    An unreal confession comes out from the evidence and the whole case turns into a huge mess. Richie will never work murder again he is
    lucky to have even kept his badge but can Scorcher fix up this mess so that justice is served.

    Blow's my mind is the perfect way to describe how I feel after I finish one of Tana French's books and even though I didn't care for this
    one as much as I have some of her others it is still a spectacular story of the messed up lives of ordinary people, I think that is why her
    books are so relatable I mean the Spain's could be my next door neighbors for crying out loud. A scary look into the mind of Conor just
    adds to it even though he thought what he was doing was harmless it was still super duper creepy. You'll be putting your blinds down
    for good after you read this one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2014


    +.).+.+./%' ~

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Maria Book provided by the publisher for review Revi

    Reviewed by Maria
    Book provided by the publisher for review
    Review originally posted at Romancing the Book

    This book absorbed me and literally claimed my attention until the last satisfying word. Murder Detective Mick ‘Scorcher’ Kennedy is what you might call (in Dublin at least) a sound man. He has it all covered from every angle. As he says himself, if he’s working on a case, it’s getting done right. He’s brash, confident and focused. But the case of a young family, found slaughtered in a house in a ghostly, half abandoned housing estate which came up in Dublin during the boom a few years back affects him deep down in places he thought were sealed and locked forever.

    What happened to Pat and Jenny Spain on that fateful night? They’d more or less kept out of touch and kept their contact with friends and relatives more or less to the minimum after Pat lost his job. What brought about the undoing of a couple so much in love with two beautiful kids? As Scorcher embarks on a journey of discovery, he comes up against his own painful experiences with Broken Harbor, the place where this murder happened, many years before.

    I particularly loved the dialogue in the novel. The Irish have a sense of humor that can laugh in the face of death and it comes out beautifully here. The conversation between Scorcher and the technical expert who comes to examine the scene of the crime is hilarious. Scorcher tells the man: ‘We’ve got enough blood spatter to keep you happy for weeks.’ ‘Oh, lovely,’ comes the reply. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? But methinks deep down, that’s the kind of humor which helps a person to keep their sanity, especially when they’re staring death in the face every other day. ‘One more bedsit overdose and I think I’d have died of boredom.’ That’s the technical expert again. But as Scorcher unravels the story of the crime, slowly and painstakingly, we realize it’s going to take a lot more than a black sense of humor to get him through.

    Crime thriller though it is, it’s very much a comment on the scene in a country reeling from the effects of a recession. The gloom, the soul destroying hopelessness in what was, a few short years ago, a land of plenty and prosperity. Tana French’s books tend to leave you with much to think about. My prayer for Ireland during this time would be that the recession will heal and people will get their lives back again. My wish for Scorcher, were he real and not a figment of an author’s imagination would be that he and his family get some closure and healing for their past tragedies and that Scorcher can meet the right woman, preferably someone who already has grown up kids (as his marriage broke up because he didn’t want any) who can give him the back rubs and the listening ear he so badly needs when he comes home from saving the world.

    Favorite Quote:  “Let’s get one thing straight; I was the perfect man for this case.”
    “Let’s get another thing clear, while we’re at it; I am bloody good at my job. I still believe that. I’ve been on the Murder Squad for ten years, and for seven of those, ever since I found my feel, I’ve had the highest solve rate in the place. This year I’m down to second, but the top guy got a run of slam-dunks, domestics where the suspect practically slapped the cuffs on his own wrists and served himself up on a plate with applesauce.”

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  • Posted January 25, 2014

    This book was a big disappointment after Faithful Place.  I even

    This book was a big disappointment after Faithful Place.  I even enjoyed The Likeness, with all its improbabilities, more.  Most mystery readers will guess what happened and why early on, and will be greatly irritated by the constant repetitions of clues and their possible meanings.  Parts of the book read like a TV show in which characters keep telling each other what they already know, supposedly to elucidate the situation for the audience.  French may intend the crazy sister and Scorcher's devotion to be affecting, but most readers will probably find them either boring or aggravating.  The book is so padded with unnecessary verbiage one wonders whether Ms. French was paid by the paragraph.  Anyone who enjoyed Ms. French's previous books must hope she recovers her skills with the next one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Realistically creepy.

    This was my first Tana French novel, and I'm craving more. The creepiness of the setting is so vivid and so plausible that it is enough to drive the story. Enough said.

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  • Posted December 30, 2013

    This fourth installment about the Dublin Murder Squad focuses on

    This fourth installment about the Dublin Murder Squad focuses on Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, who was introduced in the prior novel Faithful Place. All of the aspects that made the preceding books great are here: tight plotting, fully-fleshed character development, interesting and informative subplots, insight into police procedures without slowing the story, realistic Irish language/dialect, and twists and surprises that constantly thrill the reader and enrich the story. Toward the end there is perhaps a wee excess of introspection, but if you've liked the other three novels (which do not have to be read to enjoy this one) you'll find this a solid entry in the series.

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