Tana French's devious, deeply felt psychological chiller…may sound like a routine police procedural. But like Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl…Broken Harbor is something more. It's true that Ms. French takes readers to all the familiar way stations of a murder investigation: the forensics, the autopsies, the serial interrogations and so on. But she has urgent points to make about the social and economic underpinnings of the Spain family murders. And she has irresistibly sly ways of toying with readers' expectations.
Janet Maslin - New York Times
Edgar-winner French’s eloquently slow-burning fourth Dublin murder squad novel shows her at the top of her game. In a half-built luxury development near Dublin, a family of four is attacked and left for dead, with only the mother clinging to life. For Det. Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, introduced in 2010’s Faithful Place, this is a case that makes—or breaks—a career. With his new rookie partner, Det. Richie Curran, Mick arrives soon after Patrick Spain and his two children, six-year-old Emma and three-year-old Jack, are discovered stabbed to death in their home, while mother Jennifer is taken to the hospital. The house, one of the few completed in the Brianstown development, is a bloody mess, and suspicion immediately falls on Patrick, who recently lost his job. The recession figures prominently, as Brianstown—once known as Broken Harbor—was abandoned by contractors when money dried up. Mick’s own childhood memories of Broken Harbor are marred by tragedy and intertwined with watching over his mentally unstable sister, Dina. As usual, French excels at drawing out complex character dynamics.
French's fourth novel about the Dublin Murder Squad (In the Woods; The Likeness; Faithful Place) opens with a gruesome triple homicide in a seaside town outside of Dublin. Patrick Spain and his two children are dead, while Spain's wife, Jennie, lands in intensive care. A by-the-book officer with a hard-nosed reputation who is saddled with a rookie partner, Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy discovers further complications when he finds suspicious surveillance equipment near the Spains' apartment. But that's not all: Mick and his troubled sister, Dina, have a disturbing history with the town of Broken Harbor—dating back to a horrific childhood experience with their mentally unstable mother. Following a pattern established with French's first and second novels, this is another "chain-linked" novel, featuring a secondary character from the previous book (in this case, Faithful Place) as the protagonist. Furthermore, French uses Ireland's current economic recession as an effective backdrop for the escalating tension and calamity within the Spain family. Verdict: French's deft psychological thriller, focusing on parallel stories of mentally ill mothers and the tragedy of depression, offers a nuanced take on family relationships that will satisfy her fans and readers of psychological thrillers and police procedurals. —Rebecca M. Marrall, Western Washington Univ. Libs., Bellingham
A mystery that is perfectly in tune with the times, as the ravages of the recession and the reach of the Internet complicate a murder that defies easy explanation within a seemingly loving household. The Irish author continues to distinguish herself with this fourth novel, marked by psychological acuteness and thematic depth.... The novel rewards the reader's patience: There are complications, deliberations and a riveting resolution.
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