Skip to main content

Broken Harbor by Tana French

I did a short internet search for an inkling on who her next novel will focus on--none of the narrators from the previous novels made any cameos in this one.  And man, if the next one features that slimy greaseball Quigley I'm jumping ship on this series.  On the surface the Dublin Murder Squad series (as Amazon has started calling it) is a crime mystery series; each book features a different narrator whose life usually goes to hell in a hand basket over the course of one twisty, complicated investigation.  The end of the novel isn't your typical, everything-tied-up-in-a-bow, 'happy' ending either.

In this latest installment, Broken Harbor, Detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, who had a brief appearance in the previous novel, is the narrator.  Broken Harbor is so named for the seaside village Kennedy's family used to vacation in until one summer when tragedy found them there and changed their lives forever.

Kennedy is called to the new development, Brianstown (the seaside shanty formerly known as Broken Harbor), when a young family is massacred in their home there.  He knows before he gets there that it will be a brutal crime scene.  The father, Patrick Spain, is dead; his wife, Jennifer, is near death, while their two children lie dead upstairs in their beds.  When Kennedy arrives with his rookie partner, Richie, and they take a quick walk through the bloody crime scene, the brutal murders take on a bizarre and bewildering overtone.  The home's walls are riddled with holes, their sitting room is a damp, dark wreck, and throughout the house are several baby monitors and cameras trained on several holes in the walls.  It's clear that something strange was haunting this family.

Meanwhile, the Brianstown development is a broken, isolated, desolate place abandoned in the wake of the economic depression.  Homes are empty, others are in various states of arrested construction, and if the Spains' home is indicative of the state of the other occupied homes, well, it's just a matter of time before they start falling in on themselves.  In the wake of the murders breaking in the news, Mick's sister, Dina, for whom life is 'difficult' (a euphemism for 'crazy as a bag of cats'), skids off the rails into one of her annual melt downs, and Mick is forced to juggle both her and the case.

As the investigation progresses, it's revealed that whatever was going on in the Spain home in the months leading up to the massacre was bizarre, strange, and may have led to a breakdown in one or both adults living there.  Whatever happened, the lone survivor is determined to downplay the break-ins, the holes in the walls, the phantom animal her husband was chasing, and the stresses his unemployment placed on them.  In addition Mick struggles with a partner who's keeping something from him while his personal life threatens to spin out of control, thanks to his sister's mental breakdown, to the detriment of himself, the case, his career, and his family.

This is one tension filled, terrifying, suspenseful, perplexing (just what the hell was scrabbling around in the Spains' walls and how does Emma's godfather figure into this tragedy and what has Rich stumbled upon that he's holding back from Mick?) and dark mystery.  French has a penchant for portraying damaged characters with messy personal lives just as a perfect storm of sorts coalesces to rip apart their personal and professional lives.  One knows this story won't end well for anyone involved.  I highly recommend this novel for mystery lovers looking for something a little different from your typical crime mystery, and this one is a must read for any Tana French fan.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


Popular posts from this blog

Broken by Karin Slaughter

Before I begin the formal review there are a few things I need to get off my chest in the wake of finishing this book; I'll do so without giving away too many (or any) spoilers.
The OUTRAGE!: the identity of Detective Lena Adams' new beau; the low depths to which Grant County's interim chief has sunk and brought the police force down with him; agent Will Trent's wife, Angie's, sixth sense/nasty habit of reappearing in his life just when he's slipping away from her. Thank God for small miracles though because while Angie was certainly referred to during the book, the broad didn't make an appearance. One sign that I've become way too invested in these characters is that I'd like to employ John Connolly's odd pair of assassins, Louis and Angel, to contract out a hit on Angie; do you think Karin Slaughter and John Connolly could work out a special cross over?
Hallelujah: Dr. Sara Linton and agent Will Trent are both back. There is no hallelujah for…

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

When the end came, it seemed to do so completely out of the blue, and it wasn't until long afterward that I was able to see that there was a chain of events leading up to it. Some of those events had nothing to do with us, the Morrisons, but were solely the concern of the Pyes, who lived on a farm about a mile away and were our nearest neighbors." from page seven
I must confess that it took me longer than it really needed to in order to finish the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. The entire story is building up to the big catastrophe that forever destroys all the hopes and dreams the Morrison clan ever dared to hope and dream for its future. In the eyes of the narrator, it is even worse than the tragedy of the car crash that claimed both parents' lives one evening on the heels of some good news the family has received and celebrated. Now you can see why I dreaded getting to the end of a book that drips in foreboding like nobody's business. What can be a worse tra…

In The Woods by Tana French

"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with the truth is fundamental, but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies ... and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely ... This is my job ... What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie." opening lines of In The Woods chapter 1, pages 3-4
In The Woods by Tana French, an Irish writer, is an extremely well-written and well-crafted mystery novel. The downside is that this is French's debut novel, and her website (located at does not offer any insi…