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
List of favorite books: Woodcutter - Reginald Hill, Consent to Kill, First Deadly Sin - Lawrence Sanders, Sniper Elite - Scott McEwen
I don't know what is going on with Tana French. She is a terrific writer - That has fallen off a cliff at the end of her last two books. The narrator was awesome!! I feel like she is on a deadline and throws the ending together at the last second. It is almost baffling. I won't ruin the ending - So I'll put this together without giving anything away. This is the second book that has tried to make the killer into a victim. What was even more depressing - Getting into the main detective's head and empathizing with his character - Only to listen to him compromise himself. This same hard nosed cop that was straight for 20 + Years. Upheld the rules. Came down on anyone who broke them -Fell apart at the end. Also - The way he planned to compromise himself - Was done in an unintelligent way. He had a dozen other choices - He picked the dumbest. He was willing to throw his career in the toilet - For someone who didn't deserve it. I really don't get it. You know what they say - If the ending sucks - The whole book sucks...... It's a real shame. I swear - I was almost three quarters of the way in & loving every second of it. Then.................
For what it's worth................ J
I don't know about you, but why are there so so so many 5 star reviews. I LOVE books, but so few are 5 star.
Another great listen from Tana. I remembered Scorcher from the first French novel I read then had to listened to, Faithful Place. French's character development is great, fresh and edgy without being bleak just for the sake of being dark. The characters are utterly human.
Some of Ms. French's work has failed to "light my fire." Some of it has been quite good. All showed me potential. Here, Ms. French and her narrator, Stephen Hogan, clearly demonstrate that my belief in her abilities was not misplaced. I have not read all her work, but so far this is the one I'd pick as a show case of her talent.
When it's all said and done, Tana French's weakest novel - whichever one that turns out to be - will still be a lot better than just about any other writer's novels. In her first three books, she set such a high standard that although Broken Harbour is excellent, the plot has a problematic weakness.
It's nearly impossible to discuss this weakness without spoiling the story, so I won't. The weakness involves the downfall of a character, who has always been well able to handle life, but slides into utter ruin after a rough patch. French unsuccessfully attempts to provide a foundation for such a slide, but it's thin and in my mind, doesn't hold up well. The same scenario is played out in nearly every community every day, but without such disastrous results.
Nearly every other element of the book, however, is extremely well done. French excels at writing about less-than-perfect human beings dealing with very human problems, with the usual results. That she has done it so well in the past, and does it here with other characters, makes it even more puzzling that the cause-and-effect of the main plot doesn't seem to add up well. Others, in other reviews, don't seem to be bothered by it, but I work in an area that deals with families and their dysfunction, so maybe that's why it doesn't work as well for me. I see these things every day, and almost never does a rough patch in life lead where this one leads without an underlying issue such as alcoholism or drug addiction.
I still highly recommend the book, and if you're new to the series, I suggest you start with the first novel and work your way through them in order. Although the novels are connected, each is constructed to stand alone, so it won't cause a lot of confusion if you don't. French is a masterful writer, who unwinds her stories in a manner that makes the reader feel as if layers of character's lives are being peeled back, revealing ever more fascinating details as the character becomes more and more interesting and understandable. Like her other novels, this is a don't-miss read!
Born with earbuds.
This novel keeps you guessing as to "who" and "why" as it explores possible explanations for the murders of several members of a once idyllic family. It's more of a WhyDoneIt than a WhoDoneIt in the end. Tana French does an artistic job of showing the psychology of all the characters on a continuum with no one perfectly sane and several not far from losing touch with reality or already over-the-edge. This exploration of the gray areas of psychology is much more true-to-life than the black and white "crazy or normal" stereotypes used in many books and in everyday life.
Those who have read French's other books may find this one more satisfying in some ways and and less so in others. It has some of the sense of place that Faithful Place possessed and some of the character driven excitement of In the Woods. If there is a criticism of the book, it is that it struggles and drifts in the middle trying to decide just where it is going. I still found it easy enough to listen to even during this meandering. Perhaps the author was struggling to satisfy both the literary and mystery aspects of the novel. Some might find the police procedural style at the beginning more interesting than the later psychological aspects of the book while others will feel the reverse. However, if you have read other French books, you know that she does both of these well and will find them satisfying.
Thankfully, in a real sense, this novel does not delve directly into the questions of how people could do such terribly things as murdering children. That is to say, possibilities are explored, but the author does not insult the reader by insisting that there is only one answer and she knows it. Some people see such acts as pure evil, others as desperation, and still others as insanity--and most of us aren't likely to change our minds. Whatever, the cause, French seems to say, "These things do happen."
Some themes of the book are:
The simplest answer is usually the correct one
Places and the past are strongly intertwined
People often invite misfortune into their lives
Once you compromise your principles, you can't go back
People doing what they think is right can wreak terrible havoc
Some questions won't ever be answered to your satisfaction
There are aspects of Janeology, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Devotion of Suspect X. Janeology for the subject matter and the inheritance aspects of psychiatric issues,
Her Fearful Symmetry for parallels of both wanting the best and worst for a sibling.
The Devotion of Suspect X explores issues of self-sacrifice.
There is also resonance with works of Ian Rankin & Harlan Coben. Rankin & French are so good at realism that you seldom doubt there stories. Coben & French both expose the degree to which past is truly prologue.
The narration is perfect for both male and female voices. Hogan is brilliant and neither over or under-emotes.
When everyone's a victim, who do you arrest?
Don't miss the Bino Phillips series by AW Gray. They are largely unknown, but as good as any ive read!
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.
I do like the Tana French novels I've listened to, and I particularly like her character development -- each one of the Dublin Murder Squad books (so far) seems to take a murder detective and use a case to delved deep into the character and the effect of the case on that character. This one is no exception, however I found that the main character here is more deeply flawed than most and balancing carefully on the edge of breaking apart. I was hoping that would become more of the focus and progression of the story, but that never seemed to happen. It left me feeling dissatisfied with the ending, even though i enjoyed the trip along the way. As in the others, the plot plays second fiddle to the characters, but that can still make for a good book. Too many authors put all their effort into a fabulous plot, but have cardboard characters with stilted dialogue, but I prefer a balance tilted more towards characterization.
The first Dublin Murder Squad book I picked up was 'The Likeness' and I liked it, but after I read 'Faithful Place' I've been on an obsessive Tana French kick. Broken Harbour follows Michael Kennedy nicknamed "Scorcher." This little gem of a book follows this Murder Squad detective who meticulously follows up on all the details and rules of an investigation. He ensure his murderer is locked away nice and tight without any hope of getting off on a technicality. He doesn't close a case until after the trial. He wants no loose ends. We met Scorcher in 'Faithful Place' and our boy Frank left Scorcher hanging. You could say the investigation at Faithful Place started the unraveling of Mr. Kennedy.
Kennedy, like most detective,s and all French's characters has a scarred childhood. He, however, went to therapy after his divorce and dealt with his issues. He believes he is firmly in control of his own destiny and if you look at life in a positive manner positive things will come to you. The book is about his first big case after Faithful Place and he has no intention of screwing up after working his way back up through the junkie murders. A lot of detectives don't like the big cases or has an issue with murders involving children. For Scorcher, he believes, if you couldn't handle it why do you want to work murder in the first place. He takes a new rookie, Richie, through the paces and chose to keep him on the new big case where an entire family is murdered including two young children. The family, the Spain's, were living in a half finished housing development that got shut down by the economic crash in Dublin. They were in the middle of nowhere and where there are so few neighbors no one may have heard anything.
Kennedy doesn't get close to people. He prefers rookies because they don't ask personal questions. No one on the squad who has known him for years knows that he has a sister who is extremely mentally unstable or that his mother committed suicide. She committed suicide in Broken Harbor, the same place as the Spain's, on a family vacation to the sea when he was a child. There is something strange at Broken Harbor. Nothing seems right. Mental instability is a vein through the entire book and the desperate need for people to control their situation and surrounding.
Tana French did a wonderful job. She ties the story together and while the solution may seem obvious she takes you tracking down many red herrings. As per French's usual not all our questions are answered and that is part of its beauty. This is a dark tale that spirals out of control and Kennedy doesn't come out smelling like a fresh lily. Anyone who likes Tana French will be happy. The audible version is narrated by Stephen Hogan. He does a great job. His female voices aren't perfect but I have listened to far worse. As far as his interpretation of Kennedy or Richie he does a fabulous job. I enjoy listening to her books so I can hear the Irish accent since I won't create it in my head. If you haven't read her I recommend you do. This is the fourth installment of the series but there is no need to read the books in order. You won't miss any crucial background story. Each book is a separate mystery about a separate character on the Dublin Murder Squad. Pick the one you feel most interested in and start there. If you want to start with her latest release, 'The Secret Place,' it won't cause a problem. Just make sure you start reading the Dublin Murder Squad.
There are few things in life better than losing yourself completely in a really exceptional story. I enjoy reading others' reviews.
This is Book 4 in the Dublin Murder Squad series, and in my opinion, the absolute best of the lot. But if you've not read books 1-3 (and you really should just because they're so wonderful), no worries. As it's not a continuing saga in the traditional sense, you won't be at all lost or confused not having read any that came before. In fact, you could start with Book 4, then read Book 2 or 1 or 3, in no particular order, each being an entirely separate and unique storyline independent of each other.
While as I said, the others were wonderful, Broken Harbor is truly something special. It starts out strong, then continues to build all the way through, never faltering, never slowing. The storyline is unique and inspired. It was maddening to have to put it down for awhile when real life intruded! The writing is masterful, and the scenes are heartbreakingly vivid and tender. The characters are superbly developed and given flesh, each with their own talents and frailties, secrets and aspirations.
If you've never had the pleasure of reading Tana French before, you're in for quite a treat. And if I were you, I'd start with Broken Harbor. But then again, I always start every meal with dessert!
The story had in depth characters and beautiful writing, but the plot just didn't make sense and the story was too long. Just because you can make up a reason why murder takes place doesn't mean you should use it.
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