Published by: Viking
Published on: July 24, 2012
Page Count: 464
My Reading Format: Review copy sent to me by the publisher for consideration.
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
A beautiful young family is almost completely wiped out in an all but abandoned housing development in what used to be called Broken Harbor. Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead when the police arrive. Jennifer Spain was hanging on by a thread and was rushed to the hospital. Despite a recent ding in his record, the Dublin Murder squad sends Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy and his trainee Richie out to close the case. Scorcher is confident that he’ll both teach Richie the ropes of a tough murder case and solve the crime in excellent time to repair his reputation. What Scorcher and Richie find is that nothing is as it seems out in Broken Harbor. Scorcher should know. It’s where his family fell apart.
I finished Faithful Place not ten days before beginning Broken Harbor. I so loved Frank’s story that I was prepared not to enjoy Scorcher’s as much. It’s not that I doubted that Tana French could write another book just as good or even better. It’s just that Scorcher’s character in Faithful Place didn’t exactly excite me. He was a hindrance to Frank. While Frank might not be perfect and may skirt a few rules, I was feeling protective of him. Never mind that all the while I was writing in my review of Faithful Place how I took so long to read it because I basically felt the same way about Frank in The Likeness. Perhaps one day I’ll learn not to underestimate the storytelling prowess of Tana French.
From the very first pages I was intrigued both by the murder and by Richie, Scorcher’s assistant. I loved him and watching him grow as a detective made me one happy reader. Scorcher was a good teacher and he took the back seat for a little while. I was merrily reading the book until I was almost caught off guard at what happened next. I was so engrossed in the characters that when a huge mistake was made, I felt betrayed – in a good way if that makes any sense. For a moment I closed the book and shook it in my clenched hands. My husband took that moment to walk into the living room and he got a lecture about the whole situation. He may regret it, but he helped me out. I had to talk what happened through before I continued. From that moment on, I could not tear myself away from the story.
What I’ve come to love the most about Tana French is her beautiful and distinctive writing and her ability to transform characters. She has the most exquisite turns of phrase that make her writing so distinct that I would like to believe I could read a paragraph out of context and know it was hers because I would feel at home. I say this about an author who also writes some of the most intense scenes you will read in modern fiction. It is beautiful writing about twisted people and situations. I simply love it. Then there are the characters. Tana French’s pattern has been to take a secondary character from the previous novel and made him or her the main character in the next. The reader gets an outside view of them before getting into their heads and hearts. This is the first way in which the characters are shifted. I found this especially dramatic for Scorcher. Frank didn’t think highly of him to say the least. In fact, he was the one who coined the nickname “Scorcher.” When I got to know him personally, I could see Frank’s bias for what it was. Then the real change began when he was put to the test in Broken Harbor. It was a painful joy to witness.
Broken Harbor was an intense and satisfying read. I am so thankful that there are authors like Tana French out in this world to enrich the lives of readers. Each of her books has been a treasure. Scorcher may not have the same emotional hooks as Frank Mackey, but his slow burn is just as effective. You feel safe with him in that little house of horror in Broken Harbor because he’s cool and follows procedure. Before you realized what’s happened, you’re already gone and the heartbreak is bittersweet. I loved Broken Harbor and it is my sincere hope that Tana French never stops writing.