Broken Harbor

Broken Harbor

Mick “Scorcherˮ Kennedy is the star of the Dublin Murder Squad. He plays by the books and plays hard, and thatʼs how the biggest case of the year ends up in his hands. On one of the half-abandoned “luxuryˮ developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children have been murdered. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care. At first, Scorcher thinks itʼs goin...

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Title:Broken Harbor
Author:Tana French
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Edition Language:English

Broken Harbor Reviews

  • Regina

    Tana French could write an obituary and I would read it. I would, in fact, hunt down the newspaper just so that I could read it. Ms. French's books are the sum of almost everything I love in fiction -- flawed characters, seriously messed up pasts, conflicting moral questions, interesting settings and subtle social commentary. I believe French's writing could be easily categorized as mystery or thriller, but I think putting French's books in those boxes is misleading and doesn't do her books the

    Tana French could write an obituary and I would read it. I would, in fact, hunt down the newspaper just so that I could read it. Ms. French's books are the sum of almost everything I love in fiction -- flawed characters, seriously messed up pasts, conflicting moral questions, interesting settings and subtle social commentary. I believe French's writing could be easily categorized as mystery or thriller, but I think putting French's books in those boxes is misleading and doesn't do her books the justice they deserve. Tana French writes about characters, she solidly develops them, lets you peak into their lives and then as you are leaning in to get a good look - you tumble into the characters' lives and storyline completely. Reading her books is an experience.

    Like most fans, I waited excitedly and curiously for over a year for Broken Harbour. The main character in Broken Harbour is "Scorcher" and he was introduced in French's last book Faithful Place. Just an aside (but an important one!), it is not necessary to read Faithful Place or any other book by French to understand and enjoy Broken Harbour. Scorcher was not an important character in Faithful Place and he seemed, rather distasteful. So I waited to see what Ms. French could do to make me want to read about him. But I never doubted that she would. I was right to not doubt, I could not put Broken Harbour down. I wanted to quit my job and my family and just read and that is the magic of Tana French.

    Broken Harbour is darker than the first three books she has written, which I did not think was possible. Like Faithful Place, the book deals with family dynamics, economic struggles, and career pressures. Scorcher is not a likeable guy. He is rigid, he lectures subordinates, and he lives by a very strict way of life -- there is no compromise. The upside to his character is that he judges himself as harshly as he judges those around him. He never lets himself take a break from any of his tough rules. Little by little as the murder investigation deepens, the reader learns more about Scorcher's past. There is very little that is shocking about childhood stories and said tales of painful memories, but Scorcher's tale is sad. And his method of dealing with his pain is in the end, understandable.

    Okay, take a look at the cover of the book -- the lone and empty tricycle by the beach. Eerie? Sad? Yes and even scary. Broken Harbour had me spooked in the beginning to go to bed. The story is introduced with a horrific crime that has taken place in a very eerie setting. The setting is that of a building development that was never completed due to the economic turn-down. Only a few families live in the one or two completed homes among a skeleton of abandoned construction along the coast of Ireland. Stresses of job loss, disappearing social status, marital pressure and loss of sanity work to make every layer of this story heartbreaking, exciting and slightly scary. Not scary in the Stephen King or Halloween horror movie sense; but scary in the sense that wow, that family could be mine. I could lose my job tomorrow and where would we be? Tana French brings some very real economic realities to the forefront and weaves them together to create a rich and frightening tale. I highly recommend this book for fans of Tana French, psychological thrillers, mysteries and character driven stories. You will not regret it.

    To read this review and others like it check out:

  • Emily May

    is yet another gripping psychological mystery from one of my favourite authors. I love how Ms French can always be relied on to deliver something brilliant that is far more about people and their mentalities than it is about simply solving cases. She has a real talent for creating personalities that seem to jump off the page and Scorcher Kennedy is no exception.

    Though all her novels offer an in-depth exploration of the human mind, I think

    is perhaps the one that b

    is yet another gripping psychological mystery from one of my favourite authors. I love how Ms French can always be relied on to deliver something brilliant that is far more about people and their mentalities than it is about simply solving cases. She has a real talent for creating personalities that seem to jump off the page and Scorcher Kennedy is no exception.

    Though all her novels offer an in-depth exploration of the human mind, I think

    is perhaps the one that best explores insanity... that fine line so easily crossed in times of desperation and hardship. I questioned the mental state of almost every character I came across in this novel, all of them had some serious issues and obsessions that drove them to new extremes. Is Pat Spain an overly cautious man looking out for his family, or have their recent financial worries driven him over the edge?

    But it's not just this novel's victims that seem prone to madness, there's a big question mark over Scorcher Kennedy himself and whether or not his childhood experiences at Broken Harbour are influencing his decisions on the case and making him irrational. And, of course, Scorcher's indisputably mad sister who turns up and causes havoc at the worst possible times. There's just an uncertainty hanging over everything in this novel, all the characters' motivations come under the microscope.

    Once again, this is more psychology than mystery, with the murders forming the platform on which minds can be explored. It's a good job, really, seeing as the murderer is fairly easy to guess. Oddly, though, French's novels do not suffer when you discover the culprit early, I think mainly because her stories are more about the reasons why people were led to murder and the reasons why the people around them behaved the way they did. It's this psychological analysis that keeps me hooked to her books, plus my need to discover where the detectives will finally end up.

    P.S. I'm still waiting to hear about Rob. I know I sound like a broken record, but can't we just get a glimpse into his life now? Please?

  • karen

    there is no better quote to encapsulate this book. because wild doesn't always

    to stay out, and tana french keeps finding

    there is no better quote to encapsulate this book. because wild doesn't always

    to stay out, and tana french keeps finding the cracks in civilized lives and gleefully pointing them out, shoving wild through, and seeing what happens.

    this is a story about a triple homicide, but it is also a story of blistering loneliness.

    we have a housing development gone belly-up halfway through its construction, in the middle of nowhere, half-full of people who thought they were making good on their dreams; owning a house, raising a family, taking advantage of the financial stability they had achieved. and then the economy tanked, the developers pulled out, and the owners had no recourse to law or reimbursement and are trapped on a half-built development where the vacant houses are inhabited by squatters, teenage hooligans run wild, and abandoned bulldozers and plastic-covered windows flap in the breeze. the whole thing reads desolation, isolation, shattered hopes.

    stage set.

    in one of these houses, a family is attacked: two young children and the father murdered, while the mother remains in a coma, fighting for her life.

    enter scorcher kennedy, a detective who is himself a paradigm of studied loneliness. his youngest sister has some sort of amalgamation of schizophrenia with synesthesia-elements, his wife has moved on, and he has no close friends. all his has is his job. and he is very very good at his job. scorcher represents that last of the good detectives - he is unwavering to his own code of ethics, and a very clinical detective who can handle watching the postmortems of young children without flinching, does not mind a little verbal bullying of witnesses, all in the game, and silently disdains the shortcut actions of other detectives, proud of his spotlessness in his own set of personal ethics.

    enter the wild.

    hubris is adorable, right?

    with tana french, it is never as interesting to find out

    did it as much as

    and

    . and every reveal is so skilfully written, you will feel a little glint in your brain as the clues stack up:

    when those things are revealed, or when the import of them is revealed, each time, i got a little chill, and even as i was reading, thinking i knew who did it, and then second-guessing myself only to third-guess myself and go back to my original suspicion, then french would sidetrack me with these distractions, "wait, there are headless squirrel skeletons lined up in the attic???" WHAT??

    and the slow unearthing of the lives of the victims, the life of scorcher, the relationship between himself and his rookie partner

    and when it came down the the ending, and all the characters were worse off then when they began, i just had to applaud, slowly and sadly. i felt horribly alone. i felt as though i had endured something more than just the reading of a book. all of these characters left their mark on me, and because of the nature of this "series," i know i will never see them again, and the next book will just be about some tangential character, to whom i will probably become very emotionally attached and then abandoned.again.

    from anyone else, this would be a five-star book, but i loved

    so much, i really had to leave some sort of distance between it and this one. but that is just my own personal code of rating ethics, and if hubris comes for me, i can handle it.

    famous last words.

    oh, and p.s. -if this doesn't scare you now, it will:

    trust me.

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  • Nataliya

    This may be my favorite of Tana French's novels, just barely overtaking

    , and I loved it immensely.

    ***

    At its heart, it's a book about the terror of madness, the dreams gone awry, the slow spiral that gets you to your breaking point, and

    The setting of this novel scares me in the way it's grounded in reality. This is no longer Ireland of

    , Celtic Tiger rushing o

    This may be my favorite of Tana French's novels, just barely overtaking

    , and I loved it immensely.

    ***

    At its heart, it's a book about the terror of madness, the dreams gone awry, the slow spiral that gets you to your breaking point, and

    The setting of this novel scares me in the way it's grounded in reality. This is no longer Ireland of

    , Celtic Tiger rushing onto the world's economy stage, a country high on the economic boom. No, this is a land hit hard by the recession, with people losing the spring in their step as disillusionment sets in after the economic high has dissipated,

    Broken Harbour is the place that was supposed to become a seaside community of Brianstown, an estate of 250 homes filled with families enjoying the amenities, building lives, raising children while enjoying the seaside view. As it's not rare in the times of economic highs, it was quickly being put together to cash in on the promise of housing boom, with houses being sold even before they were built.

    , with scarcely a fifth of houses occupied, with the rest in various stages of unfinished construction declining into disrepair, far from anything, with mostly empty streets and windowless unfinished future homes that will likely never be filled with life that isn't rodents or occasional squatters.

    It is the place where desperation lurks just around the corner, traveling along the deserted, ghostly streets. It is the place that epitomizes the rise and fall of the country.

    This is also the place where, in one of the formerly dream homes, the bodies of the four members of Spain family were found - Pat and Jenny in puddles of blood downstairs, stabbed viciously and repeatedly, and their small children Emma and Jack strangled upstairs, looking almost like they are peacefully sleeping. It appears to be a senseless tragedy, and only one of the Spains seems to have survived it - Jenny is hanging on to life by a thread in the hospital, in no condition to talk.

    And to add to the senseless gruesomeness of the murder,

    - the empty windows of the surrounding empty houses staring down into Jenny and Pat's yard and home - the perfect hiding places in addition to their unintended creepiness, the puzzling holes in the walls of the house, the skeletons of small animals, the baby monitors serving a purpose much different than that intended, the hints of life Pat and Jenny may have been hiding from the eyes of others, the bear trap in the attic, the online forum messages that become more and more desperately unhinged, and the unrelenting sound of sea waves in this ghost estate. All the little things that when added together can do more than just cause tiny little ominous cracks in the already stretched thin and desperate minds.

    is a Murder Squad Detective assigned to the case through which he also needs to take his new partner and rookie Detective, Richie Curran (the partnership that ultimately evokes the memory of the similar strong friendship connection between Rob and Cassie in French's first novel). Kennedy would appear to be the perfect man for this strange case - he's well-known for his sky-high crime solve rate, he always plays by the rules, he values his job above everything else, he focuses on the positive even in the darkest times, and he is a walking embodiment of ethics and rationality.

    And as we inhabit the head of Mick Kennedy, as we get to hear his masterfully created narrative voice, as we - of course! - come to see the deep secrets that even he is hiding in the deep recesses of his mind, we cannot help but hold our breaths as the novel slowly glides to French's trademark soul-shattering mind-punch of an impact - not of the murder mystery itself but of the deep scars it leaves on everyone involved, the scars on the soul that will never fade.

    I stayed up late into the night reading this book, fighting against the sinking feeling in my stomach telling me that I'm not prepared for the emotions that are to come, and loving every page despite the inevitable soul-crushing that I knew was coming. I would recommend it to anyone - and, since French's 'Dublin Murder Squad' series is really a bunch of unconnected novels, there is no reason not to start with this one.

    - and a flash of terror every time I think I may hear something scratching in the attic.

    ------

    ------

    My reviews of the previous books in the 'Dublin Murder Squad' series are here:

    (the first book),

    (the second book),

    (the third book), and

    .

  • Lost_In_Kudzu

    I miss Rob and Cassie. Wish she'd get back to their story :/

  • Arah-Lynda

    Tana French delivers again.

    Murder detective Mick ( Scorcher) Kennedy is on a high profile case located in what was formerly known as Broken Harbour, now Brianstown, where his family used to vacation. He has a rookie, Richie, under his wing but it is Mick who tells us this story.

    Brianstown is a relatively new community development that promised would be residents an idyllic seaside community, a safe place to raise your family, build a life, pursue your dreams, then the economy plummeted leaving B

    Tana French delivers again.

    Murder detective Mick ( Scorcher) Kennedy is on a high profile case located in what was formerly known as Broken Harbour, now Brianstown, where his family used to vacation. He has a rookie, Richie, under his wing but it is Mick who tells us this story.

    Brianstown is a relatively new community development that promised would be residents an idyllic seaside community, a safe place to raise your family, build a life, pursue your dreams, then the economy plummeted leaving Brianstown unfinished; barren, desolate, with the few scattered residents sharing their space with teenagers run wild and other unwelcomes that squat in nearby abandoned houses. Their calls remain unanswered, their future bleak, all promises forgotten.

    Pat and Jenny Spain and their two children are among those scattered residents: their future looks grim, Pat has lost his job and theirs is a financially unstable, lonely place – I’m talking bone cracking, dungeon deep, no holds barred, totally isolated, no where to turn, not even each other- alone. It is here that Mick and Richie are headed.

    French’s characters are finely etched, deeply nuanced people, with basic human flaws, reflected at their worst and best moments; they smell real to me.

    Mick is a stand up guy who lives by a strict moral code of control that has helped to make him near top dog on the murder squad, he has his own demons sure and they have cost him the top spot, but he is eager to reaffirm his bosses view of his former abilities, bad days behind.

    Tana French has got it going on folks. Trust me, you will not be able to read just one. :)

  • Lyn

    The devil is in the details.

    To me, the 100% spectrum of life is divided up between two tiny slivers of white and black, the great mass of the 99.999% between is a wall of grey, lighter at one end and darker at the other, but grey. For some people, this is heresy or foolishness, life is divided evenly between white and black; order and chaos, good and bad, us and them.

    When I was on active duty in the US Army, there was a sergeant who loved to argue with me. He was a black and white guy, rules an

    The devil is in the details.

    To me, the 100% spectrum of life is divided up between two tiny slivers of white and black, the great mass of the 99.999% between is a wall of grey, lighter at one end and darker at the other, but grey. For some people, this is heresy or foolishness, life is divided evenly between white and black; order and chaos, good and bad, us and them.

    When I was on active duty in the US Army, there was a sergeant who loved to argue with me. He was a black and white guy, rules and order against the dark side of rule breakers and pandemonium. To him, rules defined life; without rules, we were lost in a sea of hopelessness. He could not figure me out, I was at the time also a law student and to him I should be squarely on the side of order. In D&D alignment terms, I should have been Lawful Good. I, on the other hand, could understand him. His father had been in the Army and he had enlisted the Monday after HS graduation. He had gone from a household ruled by order to a life defined with boundaries of standard operating procedures and commander’s intent. I on the other hand, was raised at least to some degree to question authority. Not necessarily to identify with anarchy but to simply want to know why. I tend to take issue with everything, ask difficult questions, take the devils’ advocate stance, argue both sides of a political debate and then acknowledge that I champion neither. (I define myself in D&D alignment terms as Neutral Good btw).

    Tana French’s 2012 addition to her magnificent Dublin Murder Squad series is in many ways about the differences in these two opposing worldviews.

    As readers of the series know, each book is told from the first person perspective of a different protagonist. The succeeding hero or heroine was introduced in the latter, and so the audience knows this new narrator from the last book. I love that she is doing this. Our hero in Broken Harbor was surprising: Scorcher Kennedy. We were introduced to Detective Sergeant Kennedy in French’s 2010

    and he was described as a letter of the law RULES man, a bright and shining paladin of justice whose worldview ran countercurrent with that book’s protagonist, all Irish hero Frank Mackey.

    In Broken Harbor, French’s seemingly unlikely hero Kennedy is actually a brilliant selection for this story. There is really not a lot going on: a brutal murder and the arrest and interrogation of the suspect. But here is where French’s great talent leads us down into the murky GREY corridors of our lives. Kennedy, whose life is not quite as orderly as he would like to imagine, is confronted with a fog of uncertainty and moral compromise.

    What is the right thing to do? Are there good guys and bad guys, us and them? Really? Quite often the good guy does some bad things and the supposed villain has some redeeming qualities, sometimes quite noble.

    As in her other books, French also uses Broken Harbor as a vehicle to discuss the socio-economic dynamic culture of Ireland and the Irish people. French describes a generation coming along “with notions”, whose suburban and comfortable existence is snappy and carefree compared to the only recent ancestry of poverty and hardscrabble. French asks some difficult questions: who are the modern Irish, and how sturdy is this new bubble of prosperity built upon generations who’ve gone without?

    Broken Harbor is a well told and thoughtfully crafted modern tale of difficult choices amidst a swirling eddy of grey ambiguity.

  • Alex is The Romance Fox

    After playing a minor role in Faithful Place, Mike 'Scorcher' Kennedy is able to steal the spotlight and prove readers why he is the Squad's star detective. Assigned to work with, Kennedy picks up a brutal assault/murder over in Brianstown, colloquially known as Broken Harbour.

    In Broken Harbour, Tana French's 4th novel in her Dublin Murder Squad Series, Mike ("Scorcher") Kennedy, who played a minor role in the previous book, Faithful Place,

    has been assi

    After playing a minor role in Faithful Place, Mike 'Scorcher' Kennedy is able to steal the spotlight and prove readers why he is the Squad's star detective. Assigned to work with, Kennedy picks up a brutal assault/murder over in Brianstown, colloquially known as Broken Harbour.

    In Broken Harbour, Tana French's 4th novel in her Dublin Murder Squad Series, Mike ("Scorcher") Kennedy, who played a minor role in the previous book, Faithful Place,

    has been assigned a new partner, rookie Detective Richie Curran and given a new case to solve.

    Patrick & Jenny Spain and their two small children had been brutally attacked in their home, in a decaying and unfinished housing development in Brianstown, formerly known as Broken Harbor, just outside Dublin The husband had been stabbed to death and the two children suffocated whilst the wife left barely alive.

    There are two storylines - the present murder and the connection to Sorcher. It was the place that he use to spend his family holidays in the past and where his mother had committed suicide when he was a teenager.

    Kennedy is a complex and complicated character. At first, I just couldn't connect with this guy. But as the story develops, you get to see under his "skin"....how his childhood shaped the person he became.

    You see his dedication and loyalty to his family, especially his mentally ill sister,. and the strong work ethics and sense of duty he has. He's a by-the-books detective and for him there is no such thing as the colour grey...it's black and white and he makes sure that his rookie partner knows that from the beginning...

    Kennedy, as mentor to the rookie, is a things are black and white detective trying to educate Richie on his personal rules of investigation and interrogation.

    by the end of the book, I actually liked him....felt as if I knew him really well...well, I thought I did until the author surprises me with a twisty cliff-hanger!!!

    This is a character driven story, where the police procedures, the forensics, the investigation helps the character development. It's a story of family relationships, the yearning to belong.

    A deep exploration of human emotions, loss, sadness, madness, fate..... set in a place that fits in with the crime and mystery....Brianstown is not a pretty place...it is isolated, bleak, barren, desolate where the wind blows relentlessly over the town and roiling waves that crash into the sand.

    There is no sunshine or light here....the resolution to the murder mystery is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.

    After the disappointment in her previous book, Faithful Place, I was unsure if I wanted to continue with the series...but I am glad I did....because this was really a good addition.

    And after 4 books, I have reached this conclusion.......Tana French's writing is absolutely brilliant....

    Her prose is brilliant, evocative and her characters and place are so vividly descriptive.

    I am definetly going to continue with this series.

  • Jayson

    | More than Satisfactory

    Serviceable mystery, but the b-story lacks teeth and it's too reliant on interrogation for tension and plot development.

  • Elaine

    Next time I pick up a Tana French book, someone beat me please. The spark that animated the first two books, and compensated for their structural weaknesses, has turned sour.

    This book just drags. While the premise -- that Ireland's recession and housing crash can literally drive you crazy or kill you - was intiriguing, the book was just bloated and in need of a good editor. The plot bogs down for about 300 pages in the middle -- I was so bored that I convinced myself into thinking the end would

    Next time I pick up a Tana French book, someone beat me please. The spark that animated the first two books, and compensated for their structural weaknesses, has turned sour.

    This book just drags. While the premise -- that Ireland's recession and housing crash can literally drive you crazy or kill you - was intiriguing, the book was just bloated and in need of a good editor. The plot bogs down for about 300 pages in the middle -- I was so bored that I convinced myself into thinking the end would be an action packed series of twists and turns, but no such luck. The ending is not as surprising as French might wish, and none of the psychobabble that supposedly justifies the characters' concluding actions rings true. The book ends not with a bang, but a "Huh?"

    Particularly disappointing was the abrubt exit from the scene of Richie, the most interesting and sympathetic character in the book, leaving us alone with the much less interesting (and far more grating) Scorcher. The sparks of warmth between the two detectives, and Richie's basic humanity, were the only bright spots in a parade of fundamentally unlikable people. Particularly grating was Dina, Scorcher's mentally ill younger sister, who shrieks and destroys and demands attention attention attention. It's as if no one in the book has ever heard of treatment or medication.

    The most intriguing plot points are unresolved. Which is typical. Also typical is the improbable past connection between detective and crime. At this point, French's formula has turned bitter and repetitive (the characters in Faithful Place were also highly unlikeable). I probably won't do this again.

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