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Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Girl's Good. Really, Really Good.

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

If you've read my reviews of In the Woods or The Likeness or Faithful Place, you know I pretty much think that Irish novelist Tana French walks on water.  I mean, the girl's good.  Very, very good.  She's got a potty mouth, but still, I can't get enough of her books.  Every one of them boasts intriguing characters, complex plotting, and the kind of writing that sucks a reader in and doesn't let go.  Her newest, Broken Harbor, is no exception.  I admit it's not my favorite of French's books; even still, it kept me wholly absorbed and totally entertained.  The girl's good, I tell you, really, really good.

Like the other books in French's Dublin Murder Squad series, Broken Harbor takes a minor character from a previous novel and thrusts him into the spotlight.  This time, it's Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy (from Faithful Place).  The 42-year-old's tough-but-fair reputation has made him the squad's top detective, which is why a hot new case lands in his lap.  A family of four has been found dead in their home, a newly-constructed edifice in a half-built "luxury" community by the sea.  To Mick and his very green partner, 31-year-old Richie Curran, it seems like your everyday murder/suicide.  Except that something about the whole thing seems off.  If Patrick and Jennifer Spain were as happy together as everyone says they were, what's with all the holes in the walls of their otherwise well-kept home?  And what about the video cameras and baby monitors everywhere?  The details just don't add up.  Combined with the eeriness of the abandoned community where the Spains lived, the whole thing is just downright ... spooky.

Mick would like to get the case solved and get the heck out of Broken Harbor.  The place gives him the creeps—not just because of what happened to the Spains, but because of his own ties to the seaside spot.  Memories of his own family's Broken Harbor nightmare have already sent his little sister over the edge.  Will Mick be next?  Or will figuring out what happen to the Spains finally put his own ghosts to rest?

Although I had the killer figured out long before Mick did, I still found Broken Harbor compelling.  Not as compelling as the other books in the series, but still absorbing in the way that only a novel by Tana French can be.  I've heard other French fans say that this one felt a little formulaic and I agree, although I don't mind it as much with French as I do with less talented authors.  Still, I'm hoping she'll dazzle me with something new and original for the next book.  I have to admit, though, that I'll keep reading her anyway.  Whatever French writes, I'll devour.  Like I keep saying, the girl's that good.  

(Readalikes:  Reminded me of other novels by Tana French, especially Faithful Place)

Grade:  B

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  R for language, violence and sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find       


  1. I've yet to read any of her books but at least I have some on my shelf. ;) It seems like you've been having good reading luck lately.

  2. Hi Susan - thanks for leaving your comments at my blog about this book. I enjoyed your review very much. I had figured out who it was too before Mick did, as you know. I got the feeling that his history was interfering with him seeing the case clearly, which I enjoyed how she showed it in the book. I think she does characters very well, though I would like to see her do a story that isn't about a main character (the voice of the story, really) lying, or hiding the truth, or untrustworthy in some way. The unreliable narrator is getting a little used, in her stories, I think.

    Still, a very good mystery, and so much to enjoy in it.


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