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