Saturday, February 4, 2017

BROKEN HARBOR by Tana French (fic)

Another brilliant psychological thriller from Tana French, it was published about the same time as "Gone Girl," but is a much superior book.  In the early years of this century, Ireland was riding an impressive economic boom which all came crashing down after the bank failures in '08.  Brianstown , a seaside development became a victim of the recession.  The adverts which lured young families to invest in their first home painted an attractive picture of manicured lawns leading to the sea and happy families frolicking on the beach.  The dream turned into a half developed ghost town with only a fraction of the 250 homes which were to be built.  Jenny and Pat Spain with their two children bought into the dream with devastating results when Pat lost his job.  One fine summer day, they were brutally murdered, with only Jenny escaping but barely alive and in a coma when the story opens.

Detective Scorcher Kennedy (who played a minor role in "Faithful Place") and his young partner were assigned the case, with Kennedy acting as narrator.  As in all French's books, the detectives are as flawed as the victims they are investigating.  Scorcher is no different.  He is a man with a past, not the least of which were childhood holidays spent at this very spot which was once called Broken Harbor.  It was here that his family suffered their own tragedy.  Like his counterparts in previous books, Kennedy's story is as important as that of the characters in the case he is working on. Complicating his life is his high strung sister, Dina, who most likely is bi-polar.

The victims in the case, the Spains, were a picture-book family.  Their home was squeaky clean and their personal effects showed that they were used to the best and most up-to-date clothing, appliances, and gadgets.  But, what is the meaning of the numerous holes randomly punched into the walls of their home?  As Kennedy and Curran dig deeper into the background of the family, complications and moral issues arise, making this novel more than just a mystery story.  As she always does, French gets to the nub of humanity through her studied portraits of her characters with their authentic voices and accents.

You don't have to read Tana French's books in order.  They are all enjoyable as stand alone novels.  As always I highly recommend her work as the best kind of genre writing.  They just happen to be page turners as well.

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