Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Review: "Broken Harbor" by Tana French

From Goodreads:  In BROKEN HARBOUR, a ghost estate outside Dublin - half-built, half-inhabited, half-abandoned - two children and their father are dead. The mother is on her way to intensive care. Scorcher Kennedy is given the case because he is the Murder squad’s star detective. At first he and his rookie partner, Richie, think this is a simple one: Pat Spain was a casualty of the recession, so he killed his children, tried to kill his wife Jenny, and finished off with himself. But there are too many inexplicable details and the evidence is pointing in two directions at once.

Scorcher’s personal life is tugging for his attention. Seeing the case on the news has sent 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 Harbour, back when they were children. The neat compartments of his life are breaking down, and the sudden tangle of work and family is putting both at risk . . .

My Thoughts:  I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  I love Tana French's books.  They are so completely different than anything else I read and they are always a good read.  Broken Harbor is her latest book in the Dublin Murder Squad series.  This book features Scorcher Kennedy who made an appearance in her last book, Faithful Place.  I liked Scorcher as a character a lot; he seemed to be an upstanding guy who always did the right thing.  Like all of French's characters, he had some major issues but the reader doesn't find out how damaged he was until the end of the book.  French slowly lets the reader see bits of pieces from Scorcher's childhood but it isn't until the end that we see how deep his childhood trauma went. 

I thought that French did an excellent job of showing how hard the recession hit Ireland and how much it wrecked people's lives. The way she incorporated it into the story made the mystery aspect of the story very thought-provoking.  The mystery kept me guessing for most of the book and I found myself not able to put the book down because I couldn't wait to see what would happen next.  I felt like everytime I got a handle on who the killer might be, something would happen and completely shake everything up.  It definitely was not a cut and dry mystery where there was a clear bad guy.  

I'll just come out and say that I never enjoy the endings in French's books.  I like that she doesn't wrap up everything up in a neat little bow and have everyone live happily ever after but it's still hard when I get to the end of one of her books.  I liked and respected Scorcher Kennedy as a character but I didn't like his actions at the end and was really surprised by them.  I understood why I did the things he did but it just made the end feel like a big kick in the gut.  I kind of hope that in one of her later books, we'll get to see more about what happened to him after this case was over as he was one of my favorite of her characters.  Overall, this is a great book for people who love well-written mystery and great characters.  4 1/2 stars.

Favorite quote:  "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.  Life has more than enough excitement up its sleeve, ready to hit you with as soon as you're not looking, without you adding to the drama."


  1. I'm not sure whether or not I'd like this book. I'm not usually a mystery fan but between your review and the fact that I've heard a lot of good things about French's writing, I'm intrigued.

    1. It's definitely not your average mystery. Hopefully you'll enjoy it!

  2. If you're gonna start reading Tana French you should definitely read IN THE WOODS first, since it is her first, and best, book.

    1. I have read all of her books and "In the Woods" was the first one I read. I really enjoyed it but I think I liked "Broken Harbor" a little better.


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