Friday, August 24, 2012

Broken Harbor

by Tana French, Viking Adult July 2012

... an excellent psychological mystery!

Tana French, queen of the psychological thriller is back with more from the Dublin Murder Squad.  This time we meet Scorcher Kennedy, a minor character in one of French’s earlier novels (The Likeness) is a 40 something veteran homicide detective who takes his profession very seriously.  Scorcher follows all of the rules and exercises supreme control of himself and his emotions as he solves cases.  Like all of French’s characters Kennedy has a back-story that will influence this story.  He has a sister Dina, who drifts in and out of psychotic episodes and depends on Scorcher for support. 
The setting for this tale is Ireland in the middle of the cruel economic recession.  The Spain family, Pat and Jenny and two young children Emma and Jack are the victims.  The children have been smothered in their beds, Pat has been stabbed to death and Jenny clings to life in a coma.  Their lives had been in a downward spiral after Pat lost his job.  The author painfully recounts the stresses both financial and emotional that affect families where unemployment has struck.  The list of potential killers includes Connor Brennan a childhood friend of Jenny and Pat who is obsessed with the happiness of the Spain family.  Fiona, Jenny’s sister has something to gain from these murders and becomes a suspect. Throw into the mix the neighbors, the Gogans and you have a rich group of characters. 
Scorcher is assigned the case and given a talented rookie partner Richie Curran who is learning the trade from him.  Scorcher takes his mentoring role very seriously and works to make Richie a good detective.  The investigation proceeds and a number of potential killers are identified and the pair carefully works through the evidence in their effort to solve the crime.  This author is particularly good with explaining the ins and outs of police work.  The writing has a real authenticity to it. 
While in the end I was reasonably sure of who committed these murders, the elegance of French’s novels is not the complexity of the mystery but the journey that her characters make themselves.  What fine fully developed characters these are!  The challenges that Kennedy faces in keeping his balance as disappointment and disillusion abound are very genuine.    This is a harrowing tale that really does not leave anyone including the reader untouched by the end.
 This author would be successful in any genre she chooses; we are lucky to have her writing mysteries!  No disappointment for fans in this offering, it is excellent!

I read a copy of this novel provided by the publisher.


Harvee said...

I was impressed by the police procedures outlined in the novel too, and by the characters. Good book, nice review.

Zibilee said...

I NEED to read French! I have 2 of her books, but have not yet gotten the chance to read them. I have heard that the second is better than the first, but that they are all really good. I am glad that you enjoyed this one. Its apt to land on my shelf very soon!