Broken Harbor by Tana French

Detective Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy has a spotless record of solves, but when he’s partnered with a street smart rookie on the murder of a family in a boom economy development turned recession slum outside of Dublin, the ghosts from his past threaten his ability to play by the straight and narrow.

I am a huge fan of Tana French and Broken Harbor definitely lived up to my expectations. First of all, her sense of mood and place is just brilliant. She sets the story squarely within the recession (similar to the recent Gone Girl), and uses the murder investigation to thoroughly examine how the economic roller coaster of the last five years affected some very ordinary people. In many ways it was hard to read about regular people trapped by their dreams.

But it’s Detective Kennedy who killed me in this one. As much as I love Cassie Maddox, I fell head over heels for Scorcher to the point where it physically hurt to watch him suffer. French gives him such exquisite depth and complexity that I didn’t want his story to end–especially the way that it does.

As a mystery, Broken Harbor doesn’t aim for the complexity of French’s other books, but that’s not a problem for me. Its relative simplicity ends up showing Scorcher’s talent as an investigator more than if he had followed a twisty rabbit hole of crazy. Instead, Scorcher has to dive deep into an emotional quagmire that matches his own.

And I have to mention Richie–oh, Richie! A rookie sent out on his first case with Scorcher, the two quickly discover their compatibility as partners. On the surface, this would seem like a good thing, but Scorcher has his reservations, and they don’t really make sense. The journey of their relationship is as satisfying as anything else in the story.

On a last note, I really wish I could get away with using some of the Irish phrasing that French gives her characters. But I’m afraid my Irish friends would be after taking the piss if I used the word “banjaxed” to describe my laptop after having a can of seltzer poured on it by my two-year-old. She’s only small, what does she know?

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