Broken Harbor

Broken Harbor
by Tana French
Published by Viking Adult
464 pages
Available on
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview
4 / 5 cupcakes

Pat and Jenny Spain have everything: good looks, well-paying jobs, two beautiful children, and now their dream home. Except that one gruesome night, a horrific tragedy occurs, and Jenny is the only member of her family still alive.

Enter Mick Kennedy, otherwise known as Scorcher, the detective called to the scene of the crime. Mick notices some odd things about the Spain home: the plethora of baby monitors, for one, and the holes in the wall, for another. And what’s with that weird trap in the attic door?

Tana French takes us through a few possible options for “who done it,” each as convincing as the next. Mick has his choice, while his partner Richie believes a different person is guilty. As the two go through the evidence, they alternate between affirming their belief of the guilty party and denying it.

Meanwhile, Mick has to deal with personal issues. Broken Harbor, the area where the Spains lived (and died) has significance for Mick, as it is where his mother took her life. Mental illness is never too far away, because Mick’s younger sister Dina struggles with it; her instability causes him great anxiety and forces him to confront a heartbreaking moment from his childhood.

As far as the mystery is concerned, Tana French keeps us guessing. You will believe Mick, you’ll believe Richie, and you may even form your own opinions. When the truth comes out, you won’t feel cheated, which is the sign of a well conceived whodunit.

There is a lot – and I do mean a LOT – of talking in this book. Mick and Richie have long discussions, Mick and Dina chat for pages, other cops and investigators talk. Yap, yap, yap, yap, yap. Some of those conversations slow the tale’s progression, bogging us down in unnecessary information. On the plus side, each character is fully presented; you will love and hate them in equal measure. Each of us has some guilt and innocence within us, French seems to say, sort of an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. Whether we lean one way or the other depends on our weaknesses. In some cases, that weakness is fragile mental health. In others, it’s pride.

This is a good, engrossing mystery. I hadn’t read any of French’s books previously – Mick was first introduced in Faithful Place – and enjoyed “meeting” her.


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