Just north of Dublin, a family is found brutally attacked within their home. The father and two children are already dead; the mother clinging to life with all she’s got. Detective Scorcher Kennedy and his new partner, rookie Detective Curran get the case. Signs of a physical struggle are everywhere on the first floor, and you can see a blood trail where the perpetrator left… but no signs of a forced entry. The Spains are not only victims in the attack, but also of the quick economic downturn and recession. They are flat broke, the noose of bankruptcy becoming tighter and tighter. Did they get mixed up in some illegal activity to try and stay afloat, but it didn’t turn out so well? Or is this something else all together?
Tana French crafts such a wonderfully dark and twisted mystery tale. I just love her and her books. This is the fourth book in her “Dublin Murder Squad” series, but consider the term “series” very loosely in this instance. It is more like the books are linked together, but are absolutely not dependent upon each other. This very easily stands on its own merit. In fact, I think there were possibly two or three paragraphs in this entire 450 page book that only vaguely referenced the previous book… so vague that I think if you went and read Faithful Place after this book, you would still have no idea what was to happen in that murder case.
Back to Broken Harbor. The setting for this case is perfect. Broken Harbor is the old name for a town where Scorcher vacationed as a child with his family. The economic boom in the early 2000’s created mass housing development projects and the town was renamed Brianstown to seem more appealing. But the properties were shoddily constructed, went mostly unsold, and the builders left the mess behind without a second thought. This is where the Spains lived. They were trying to live their perfect life in their perfect new home, when Patrick Spain was laid off without any prospects. From there, everything went down hill for them… and then this tragedy happened. The narrative takes us through the investigation step by step, methodically following leads and clues. Kennedy is taking young Curran under his wing, and bringing the reader along too. As soon as you start to feel comfortable that the clues are pointing at one suspect, something else comes up and you end up just as twisted in the head as our fair detectives. The final solution is such a twist that I was just stunned. And the way it ultimately came pouring out by the one who knew the whole truth…. I was glued to my seat, pages turning faster than ever. Broken Harbor is a must read for fans of murder mysteries!