*review copy of e-book received from netgalley and the publisher*
Rating: 5 Stars/Grade A
Scorcher’s personal life is tugging for his attention. Seeing the case on the news has sent his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family, one summer at Broken Harbour, back when they were children. The neat compartments of his life are breaking down, and the sudden tangle of work and family is putting both at risk . . .
Tana French could write an obituary and I would read it. I would, in fact, hunt down the newspaper just so that I could read it. Ms. French’s books are the sum of almost everything I love in fiction — flawed characters, seriously messed up pasts, conflicting moral questions, interesting settings and subtle social commentary. I believe French’s writing could be easily categorized as mystery or thriller, but I think putting French’s books in those boxes is misleading and doesn’t do her books the justice they deserve. Tana French writes about characters, she solidly develops them, lets you peak into their lives and then as you are leaning in to get a good look – you tumble into the characters’ lives and storyline completely. Reading her books is an experience.
Like most fans, I waited excitedly and curiously for over a year for Broken Harbour. The main character in Broken Harbour is “Scorcher” and he was introduced in French’s last book Faithful Place. Just an aside (but an important one!), it is not necessary to read Faithful Place or any other book by French to understand and enjoy Broken Harbour. Scorcher was not an important character in Faithful Place and he seemed, rather distasteful. So I waited to see what Ms. French could do to make me want to read about him. But I never doubted that she would. I was right to not doubt, I could not put Broken Harbour down. I wanted to quit my job and my family and just read and that is the magic of Tana French.
Broken Harbour is darker than the first three books she has written, which I did not think was possible. Like Faithful Place, the book deals with family dynamics, economic struggles, and career pressures. Scorcher is not a likeable guy. He is rigid, he lectures subordinates, and he lives by a very strict way of life — there is no compromise. The upside to his character is that he judges himself as harshly as he judges those around him. He never lets himself take a break from any of his tough rules. Little by little as the murder investigation deepens, the reader learns more about Scorcher’s past. There is very little that is shocking about childhood stories and said tales of painful memories, but Scorcher’s tale is sad. And his method of dealing with his pain is in the end, understandable.
Okay, take a look at the cover of the book — the lone and empty tricycle by the beach. Eerie? Sad? Yes and even scary. Broken Harbour had me spooked in the beginning to go to bed. The story is introduced with a horrific crime that has taken place in a very eerie setting. The setting is that of a building development that was never completed due to the economic turn-down. Only a few families live in the one or two completed homes among a skeleton of abandoned construction along the coast of Ireland. Stresses of job loss, disappearing social status, marital pressure and loss of sanity work to make every layer of this story heartbreaking, exciting and slightly scary. Not scary in the Stephen King or Halloween horror movie sense; but scary in the sense that wow, that family could be mine. I could lose my job tomorrow and where would we be? Tana French brings some very real economic realities to the forefront and weaves them together to create a rich and frightening tale. I highly recommend this book for fans of Tana French, psychological thrillers, mysteries and character driven stories. You will not regret it.
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