TITLE: BROKEN HARBOUR
AUTHOR: TANA FRENCH
Details: no. 4 Dublin Mystery
The scene is gruesome and heartbreaking. Upstairs two young children, a girl and a boy, are found dead, probably smothered. Downstairs is a bloodbath with in the middle the children’s parents, both with multiple stab wounds. The father has also died but the mother is barely alive and rushed to hospital. The case is given to Detective Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy who is teamed up with rookie Detective Richie Curran. Kennedy has something to prove. Although he has an almost perfect record his last case didn’t work out as planned and this case, if he solves it to everybody’s satisfaction, should restore his reputation. And there is no reason why things shouldn’t work out for him. Kennedy is a man who controls his life and himself completely and up to the smallest details.
Except that this is one case he should probably have passed on to somebody else. The scene of the horrendous crime is in a half finished housing estate called Brian’s Town in the middle of nowhere. Years ago, when Scorcher was a teenager, the area was known as Broken Harbour and he and his family used to spend two weeks there, every summer. Those holidays were the happiest times in Scorcher’s life until the day tragedy struck. A tragedy that still haunts Scorcher’s life every single day.
As the two detectives start their investigation the solution appears to be simple enough. After all, all the evidence points towards a tragic but not uncommon domestic tragedy. But things are never that clear cut, and even when Scorcher thinks he has got the case solved his new partner has enough doubts to keep them digging for more evidence. It isn’t long before what started out as a murder investigation turns into a morality tale in which it becomes ever harder to figure out what the right thing to do might be. And with this case hitting so close to home and his private life getting more complicated Scorcher is losing the control he has worked so hard to achieve and maintain.
This is the fourth Dublin mystery by Tana French and like its predecessors it is a masterpiece. Well plotted, exquisitely written and with characters who are realistic and easy to sympathise with she has once again given the reader a book that is fascinating and almost impossible to put down.
French has taken Ireland and Dublin as it is right now. The story puts the reader in the middle of the current recession, in one of the many ghost-estates that litter the country and provide visible proof of past greed and current desperation. She has taken one perfectly normal and hard-working family and shows how events out of their control destroy the lives they worked so hard to create, taking their dreams down as well, until their lives have turned into something they don’t recognise anymore and evil creeps in.
The author leads the reader through an investigation where the twists and turns all make perfect sense. None of the suggested solutions come out of the blue and every suggested scenario makes as much sense as the previous one. When the solution is at last revealed it comes as a shock and a surprise, but not because it is unimaginable. It is all too believable that the all characters in this book would act the way they do and that is the reason that this is not only an imaginative mystery but also a thoroughly heart-breaking tale of the times we live in.
Part of me wishes that Tana French would write faster because I’m always eagerly anticipating her next book. A bigger part of me is glad she doesn’t though; the quality of these books is so high that I have to be grateful that she takes her time to give me an unforgettable story every single time.