Book Review: "Broken Harbor" by Tana French

book cover image of Broken Harbor by Tana French

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!

Just to add a thought, I hope Tana French continues this series…  but I’m undecided who I’d like to narrate the next book.  Quigley is the obvious choice (and is possibly set up here to do so easily), but I’d like to put a vote in for Superintendent O’Kelly.  I think it might be interesting to see his take on things… maybe visit one of his cases from back in the day?
Broken Harbor
by Tana French
Viking, 2012
450 pages
Series:  Dublin Murder Squad #4
Source:  Publicist for honest review
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4 thoughts on “Book Review: "Broken Harbor" by Tana French

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  1. I'm so glad I came across this review today! I've been hearing so much about this book and usually skip right over the reviews because I'm not much for mysteries and figured I'd never read it. But now I think I should at least give it a try; I've never read anything by Tana French. Then I saw it was a series and just asked on Twitter if I had to read the other books. Your review answered my question and now I'm eager to pick it up!


  2. I actually reviewed this today as well! Your synopsis blows my outta the water!! But I would also agree that readers don't have to read these in order because I couldn't even remember the references to Faithful Place. I've read that the next narrator is going to be Moran from Faithful Place, although I don't remember him at all. So.
    I know you've read all, so which would you consider your favorite?
    I would say that this was much more realistic, if that makes sense than the other 3.


  3. Moran? hmm… I don't really remember him either. May have to go through that book again. It is hard to choose a favorite, but I think I'd have to go with Faithful Place. I really liked Frank. But then there was Cassie….


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