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on 2 April 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Broken Harbour is a nice simple case - 4 members of one family, only one remaining alive, are in a locked house. The detective assigned to the case, Mike Kennedy has a good track record in the Murder squad - what can possibly go wrong? OK - so he has a rookie as his partner and there is some family background in the place that was called Broken Harbour and is now called Brianstown but it can't affect the case can it?

The unfolding of the case caught me from the start. "Obvious" theories looked at and discarded or placed on the back burner at least. The few main characters in the book are gradually, and well, developed. A lot of extra hours are worked and people get tired and I felt for them. The "obvious" becomes much less so as the initial investigation bears some fruit. As time goes by there are some "obvious" pointers. This much of the book is very good indeed. However the last third or so is exceptionally powerful and emotional. Tana French pulls out all the stops and plays with a number of aspects of the characters emotions to great effect. It really was one of those books where the next meal had to wait in the end - I was not going to put the book down much though I regretted it ending.

I read and enjoyed Faithful Place so was glad to have the opportunity to read another Tana French book. There is no question that I will look forward to and read more of her work. This is a very good well written crime thriller that I am happy to recommend.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Pat and Jenny Spain are the perfect golden couple - until one morning they are discovered attacked in their kitchen with their children dead upstairs...

I love Tana French and rate her In the Woods as one of my all-time favourite novels - and Broken Harbour is very nearly as good. This is complex, well-written, and emotionally-edgy fiction which just happens to be organised around a crime. The book is dense and detailed, with nothing appearing either hurried or slip-shod, and the creepy sense of disquieting menace grows slowly but surely. French is especially good at conveying a haunting sense of the potential evil of places - the woods in her first book, Broken Harbour here.

French has resisted falling into a crime series and though her books have all taken place in the Dublin murder or undercover squad, they each have a different narrator, with a voice of their own. Mike `Scorcher' Kennedy is a man who prides himself on his control but, like French's previous narrators, he has a dark and troubled past which cannot help but affect his present.

The narrative twists and turns and I don't want to give anything away about the plot which will spoil this for other readers (the Amazon blurb sets the scene well) - it is worth knowing, though, that this is brutal and distressing in parts, and is a book which doesn't shy away from anguish and pain.

This is a wonderfully authentic and atmospheric read and one which I found utterly gripping - highly recommended.
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on 20 December 2015
In every novel, the author makes a point of including one detestable character whom the author decides we should sympathise with. I have no idea why.

This book would have made a grand short story. Broken Harbour is long-winded and tedious. Any decent editor would have cut back every single scene in half, if not more. But it seems the author has no decent editor, so she is given carte blance to blather interminably. You will miss nothing if you read every third page.
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on 25 January 2016
Totally not believable. Unanswered questions all the way through, remaining unanswered at the end. Really cloying, moralistic elucubrations about everything that happens. Long confessions from people under interrogation that just aren't credible: more like intimate personal stories.

If this whole novel had been tightened up and cut short to half the length it is, it might have worked because some of the elements are promising but basically, the main story is over by the time you're halfway through the book and the rest is a kind of "sequel".

I expected a lot of Tana French, who gets lots of favourable publicity but based on this very poor effort, I don't think I'll bother any more.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 February 2015
Tana French has this one by the balls and she doesn’t let it go for a second. Tough talking DI Kennedy and his rookie partner Ritchie are in for a ride that barely lets us catch our breath. His boss, O’Kelly, calls him in to give him the case. It’s a bad one. “Husband, wife, two kids, stabbed in their own home. The wife’s headed for hospital. It’s touch and go. The rest are dead.” We get the full details of the scene of crime, text-book isn’t in it, and when young Ritchie can’t face the Post-Mortem, Kennedy makes sure he faces it full on. They have a good routine as far as it goes, but this case is like no other.

Around midway it gets a bit more unguessable, and there are two distinct suspects. Kennedy fancies the father of the children for the crime, though the crime scene is ambiguous and there are various other matters that don’t fall as they should. Ritchie. The other suspect is the prime favourite, except that doesn’t pan out as they hope. When Kennedy’s teenaged sister comes on the scene, we get some insight into Kennedy’s past. She’s unstable to say the least and he spends some time worrying about her when other matters should be occupying his mind.

There’s also the matter of some kind of rogue animal that may or may not be trapped in the walls of the crime scene house and the nature of the surroundings which are far from ideal. They coppers work well as a team, but this is a hefty book at 533pp, and I felt some parts were overcomplicated, stringing certain matters out unnecessarily. The characterisation is good on the whole and I feel French has a good knowledge of the realistic side of policing. It’s a good read, with plenty of creepy moments and dangerous complications. I liked it.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 7 February 2015
Last year I was lucky enough to win a copy of The Secret Place in a Goodreads giveaway and I really enjoyed it. Since then I picked up Broken Harbour in the same series, hung on to it for a while thinking I really should read the first three books in the series first, but finally settled in for a darn good read. The wonderful thing is it doesn’t seem to matter which order you read the books in as each focuses on a different detective in the Dublin Murder Squad with no references to past cases or drama that has been carried over. In Broken Harbour, Detective Mick Kennedy, along with his rookie partner Richie Curran are called to investigate when the murdered bodies of a family are found in their home with just one survivor – mother of the family,Jenny Spain.

At over 500 pages this is quite a long read, rich in detail and description not only of the investigation but also of the setting. A modern housing estate by the sea at Brianstown which should have been the Spain family’s dream home has been left abandoned during the recession, it is now very much a ghost town with half the homes unsold and only half built. Brianstown used to be called Broken Harbour, a place Mick knows well from his childhood and which holds bittersweet memories for him. It isn’t until you get to the very last page of the book that you realise just how close to the bone this investigation is for him.

I loved the way the author showed the relationship between Mick and Richie – how it evolves through the story in a way which is quite unusual and refreshingly original for someone who reads a lot of this genre to read about. As well as guiding Richie through the pitfalls of being a detective, Mick also has to care for and keep watch over his younger sister Dina – a fey character with a very fragile grip on reality whose problems threaten to tear Mick away from the investigation.

As the story develops to the point where we finally find out exactly what happened to the Spain family and why, I was totally mesmerised, especially when I was reading the section of the book that relived the night they were killed. The author put me right there on the Spain’s sofa living through their ordeal with them, feeling every emotion they felt. I really felt quite wrung out afterwards. It was chilling, atmospheric and haunting stuff and I loved every single page of it.
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A 500-odd page novel set in the Irish recession isn't a description which attracts me, I must admit. I only tried this on the recommendation of a friend and I am extremely glad I did. I thought it was an exceptionally good book - well written, completely gripping and very intelligent. It is told in the first person by the detective investigating an attack on a family which leaves the father and two young children dead and the mother seriously injured. The investigation of the crime itself is very well done but it is the depth of Dana French's characters and the sharpness and humanity of her insights which marks this out as an exceptionally good book.

The narrative voice is terrifically believable and readable. The narrator, Detective Mike Kennedy is, for all his flaws, a very sympathetic character and the revelations about his personal life and past are delicately and insightfully done. The story unfolds at a very measured pace but is utterly gripping throughout and is genuine it's-very-late-but-just-one-more-chapter stuff. We get a real feel for the lives of both narrator and the victims, a heart-wrenching portrait of what the boom-and-bust economy in Ireland has really done to some of its people, and varied, poignant portraits of what it means when certainty and control of one's life begin to unravel and when well-intentioned actions go wrong.

I thought this was a terrific book. An unequivocal five stars and very warmly recommended.
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on 8 November 2012
This is the first crime story set in Ireland that I have read - I tend to go for Scottish ones usually. For the first few pages I wasn't sure if it was set in Ireland or an Irish area of the US!
A family has been found in a house on a new estate by the sea, 40 minutes from Dublin. The setting is very vividly described - a development conceived in the boom years of escalating house prices and unrealistic dreams, now already falling into decay and partly abandoned. Three family members are dead, the survivor seriously injured.
This immediately becomes a murder investigation, headed by experienced detective Mick Kennedy. Chosen to be his partner is young Richie Curran. As the investigation gets under way, personal relationships become an important part of the story: the relationship between 'Scorcher' Kennedy and rookie Curran, and Kennedy's unstable, volatile younger sister Dina; the changing relationship of the married couple involved in the tragic events, with each other, their children and their old friends. The nature of past events and their effects on the present are also explored here.
This story has been criticised for being too long - I find it hard to judge length when reading on a kindle - but I would have liked chapters to be a bit shorter.

However - I enjoyed this book and will definitely read her earlier novels - once I have devoured the latest Rebus from Ian Rankin!
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on 27 November 2014
The author seems to enjoy a lot of blood and guts in the novel. An unbelieveable storyline. In amongst this there is a competent novelist who writes with a good descriptive style but who should think up a story with a bit more sense to it.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Detective Scorcher Kennedy makes things clear from the start. He gets given high profile cases because he is the best - and this case is very high profile, a family slaughter on the outskirts of Dublin with one survivor in a coma. Kennedy is given a new partner, rookie Richie Curran and he gives us a master class of good detective practice through showing Richie how it's done. I mean that literally, Kennedy addresses us personally throughout the book. His voice is very strong, so strong that I know exactly what he looks like, even though at no point are we given a physical description of him.

We learn how the master detective keeps cool, detached, professional and above all in control. He does not break the rules, because you can lose convictions that way. He does not let his personal life intrude, even if his sister is having one of her periodic manic spells. If personal stuff can't be avoided, he makes effective provision for cover which he can monitor at all times, even if at a distance. The master detective is a champion of order. That is what he does.

The murder is gruesome. Pat and Jenny Spain are the perfect couple with the perfect children. They are a golden family. Their is house beautiful, even if the new estate on which it is built is proving to be a gerry-built affair. This impression of the family stands up to very close scrutiny. They are loved and admired by all who know them, so it is hard to fit the obvious solution that Pat, losing it after being made redundant, has battered his family to death. Kennedy and Curran work the case diligently, setting all the correct machinery in place. Hard work provides an alternative answer that fits the bill, even if it doesn't answer all the questions. (Why was the family computer wiped clean? Why are there five baby monitors? Why, in such an immaculately kept house are there holes in the walls?)

Kennedy keeps it all together coping with rivalries at work, despite his sister's shenanigans and mixed memories of camping holidays near the murder site. He is confident enough in his methods to test Curran's doubts about the guilt of their suspect, seeing it as part of his learning and sure that it will just strengthen the case they have against the suspect in custody.

This is a very long, dense book that is completely absorbing. I found my engagement with Kennedy was total. His beady eye hooked me and hypnotised me and didn't let me go until he had finished. The story is his and we see what he sees and we know what he wants us to know, and although he is reticent about some things, he is mostly straight with us. The ending came as a surprise but it shouldn't have. This is an excellent thriller, but not a quick read. Don't rush it.
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