New York Times best-selling author and Edgar Award winner Tana French grabs listeners with her chilling Dublin murder squad novels. In Broken Harbor, all but one member of the Spain family lies dead, and it’s up to Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy to find out why. Mick must piece together why their house is full of cameras pointed at holes in the walls and how a nighttime intruder bypassed all the locks. Meanwhile, the town of Broken Harbor holds something else for Mick: disturbing memories of a childhood summer gone terribly wrong.
©2012 Tana French (P)2012 Recorded Books
This listen has left me stunned. It is such a powerful, insightful and brilliantly woven story that I can't even bear to begin another book for fear of losing the magic of Tana French. This is one of those books you wish you had never listened to, so that you could go back and experience it again and again for the first time.
While those who have read Faithful Place were introduced to Frank “Skorcher” Kennedy, we obviously didn’t scratch the surface. He starts Broken Harbor in about the same place French last left him spouting cop jargon and bragging about solve rates. Though the events from the Faithful Place novel have left his reputation a little tarnished. In a bid for redemption, Frank takes a case involving the attack on a family after which only the mom survived. He’s also showing a relative newbie the murder squad ropes, the uncannily perceptive Ritchie. He’s also dealing with a mentally ill sister who has shown up just in time to upend his life. When the case ends up more complicated than he could have imagined, Frank’s path to the killer requires him to question everything he was certain he knew.
First, I’m a fan of the entire Dublin Murder squad series. I find that Tana French ups her skill with every subsequent book. Broken Harbor has officially replaced Faithful Place as my favorite. Second, everything I love about the series is here: complex mysteries with genuine surprises, a fascinating and layered view of modern Dublin, and some of the best interrogation scenes I have ever read. French also tackles another “partner” relationship which she hasn’t touched much since Rob and Cassie in her debut, In the Woods. One of the things that stand out the most in Harbor is French’s vivid portrayal of the victim’s marriage and family life. Through some clever plot situations we get layered depictions of this family which makes their story fascinating. Frank’s character development is also entirely honest which by the end of the book makes the reader a genuine fan. Broken Harbor is a gift for mystery fans. And while each book in the series stands alone, once you read one, you will want to read all four. I for one cannot wait for the next installment.
I listened to the audio version performed by Stephen Hogan. About 90% of Steven Hogan’s reading is wonderful. However, he does a really screechy impression of Frank’s sister which unfortunately puts the listener off.
This story grabbed me from the start and never let me go. I was glued to my Ipod for the last three days. Ms French is so very good at character development. The narrator sounds plausibly Irish to my American ears. (He may well be an Irishman but if not, he does a great job with the accent) I highly recommend this entire series.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
This book held my interest throughout. The setting in an unfinished housing development by the ocean sets the mood for things to come. A"perfect little family of four" begins to unravel when Father loses his job. Unrequited love appears, psychological problems arise, unexplained noises in the attic and walls of the couple's poorly built house, creepy neighbor boy, voyeurism... what's not to like? I didn't want to put the book down, I had to know what was happening next. All this makes for a really terrific listen. I have read another book from this author that I liked, now I will definitively read more.
I have never read a novel of this genre, nor of this magnitude that is this nuanced, layered, and so real it gets under your skin, even though the work of P.D. James comes close. In fact I spent an entire day in Paris in my hotel room reading most of it, aided by the grey, wintery, snowy weather that boosted the eerie tone of the book, and kept me inside.
There are not many books in this, what, all-encompassing genre that we call "mystery", the books that include police procedurals, psychological thrillers, courtroom dramas, lawyer capers, that have this level of depth, and add an additional character: the geographical setting, a setting in this case intended as a joyful, benign refuge, a harbor to all who lived there, but was "broken" on so many levels, to its very core.
Tana French has a background in theater, and that came through loud and clear. There are are some of the best interrogation scenes I have ever read. I truly felt these people, I felt the strategies, the emotions, the investigational blind alleys of the two cops and the suspect, and I felt the narrator's subtleties as strongly as if I had seen this on the big screen. Stephen Hogan was truly channeling Tana French and her star gumshoe, Mike "Scorcher" Kennedy.
The set design was masterful, as was the quality of description. This reader/listener feels the presence of a harbor that is truly "broken" on all levels.
Not to detract from Hogan's performance, I did find myself hearing the voices of both Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne. Perhaps either one of those actors would be a good choice for another book in the Dublin Murder Squad series.
"Broken Harbor" is intimidating, frightening, and strikes a deep chord of vulnerability. But there is no question that within all the frailties and failings of the characters and their crumbling senses of safety and life-altering violation of their comfort zones, this is a novel of overpowering beauty.
I've read all of Tana French's books. This one started strong, but the plot got lost about 2/3 into the book and was preachy at the end. Could have used tighter editing.
Dept Q, Harry Hole... where are you?
Well written, excellent character building. The thread of mental illness weaves it's way throughout this tale.
Detective Mick Kennedy's hard edge is softened by his care for his mentally ill younger sister. But I find mental illness extremely painful to read about, especially with characters I like. I am very familiar with dealing with mental illness in real life. My wife is a counselor and like many others, we have crazy on both sides of our family. So the mental illness angle, for me, is more palatable when presented with humor.
There were times the detective work was highly interesting. Where I found this tale lacking was in the mystery itself. Much like Ms French's work in The Likeness, there is a stunning lack of suspense. I won't go into detail for fear of spoiling the mystery, but for a myriad of reasons I found the story too far fetched.
Constantly in search of the perfect listen.
Brianstown, formally Broken Harbor resort, is a modern housing development on the outskirts of Dublin that should have been the ideal location for up-and-coming young professionals to set roots in. However, shoddy construction and the collapse of the economic boom left it, and the people living there, exposed, isolated and vulnerable. The loss of security and fall from assumed safety culminates in an unimaginable murder. “Who-done-it?” almost becomes a secondary concern to “Why?” and “How?” The evil seems mysteriously connected to this place itself.
One thing I appreciate about Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad is that each title can be considered a stand-alone yet there are also enough common threads to draw me back to the series again-and-again. She certainly creates memorable characters, but it is French’s brilliant ability to develop a distinct mood and atmosphere that makes her stories unforgettable and each book a fresh listening experience.
Long after turning off the audiobook, Broken Harbor stays with me: I can smell the sea air, see the overgrown yards, and image the empty houses continue to be taken back by nature to eventually disappear completely.
I agree with most other reviews with respect to comments like, "Absorbing", "Can't Put Down", Holds my Interest", "Riveting", etc. The character development was good and the book was VERY well written. The author, Tana French, definitely has some skills in the area of developing good mystery and intrigue.
The only problem I saw was there are a few holes in the story in the areas of motive and opportunity that are never resolved and the ending only introduces additional holes.
Even though the story doesn't hold water in a lot of places - and I won't ruin it by going into specifics apart from simply stating that story dragged along at times solely for the purpose of creating suspense and mystery - which in the end creates some of the holes.
Nonetheless, it was entertaining and the narration was good.
Overall, I do recommend the book.
I love espionage, legal, and detective thrillers but listen to most genres. Very frequent reviews. No plot spoilers! Please excuse my typos!
With this novel Tana French puts herself into the same league as Adrian McKinty as a great Irish detective thriller writer. Stephen Hogan is a superb narrator. I especially like the Scorcher Kennedy character.
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