Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad Series #4)

Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad Series #4)

3.9 135
by Tana French

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An addictive thriller from New York Times bestseller and the acclaimed author of In the Woods and Faithful Place

Tana French’s rise can only be called meteoric. Starting with her award-winning debut, French has scored four consecutive New York Times bestsellers and established herself as one of the top names in the

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An addictive thriller from New York Times bestseller and the acclaimed author of In the Woods and Faithful Place

Tana French’s rise can only be called meteoric. Starting with her award-winning debut, French has scored four consecutive New York Times bestsellers and established herself as one of the top names in the genre. Broken Harbor is quintessential French—a damaged hero, an unspeakable crime, and an intricately plotted mystery—nestled in a timely examination of lives shattered by the global economic downturn.

Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy always brings in the killer. Always. That’s why he’s landed this high-profile triple homicide. At first, he thinks it’s going to be simple, but the murder scene holds terrifying memories for Scorcher. Memories of something that happened there back when he was a boy.

Tana French's newest novel, The Secret Place, will be published by Viking on September 2nd, 2014.

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Editorial Reviews

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.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Dublin Murder Squad Series , #4
Sold by:
Penguin Group
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File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
18 Years

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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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What People are saying about this

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.”

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Broken Harbor: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 135 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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??
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
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!!
booksonmynook More than 1 year ago
Really great book. Kept me entertained all the way.
MargiOR More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down...just brilliant!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
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.
SUEHAV More than 1 year ago
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!!!
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joansie More than 1 year ago
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.  
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Fourth in the series, she evojes a tremendous sense of place, of longing and into her charachters souls,
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