Customer Review

23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Multiple murders, multiple confessions and too long for what you actually get, 5 May 2012
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This review is from: Broken Harbour (Hardcover)
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Based in current-day Ireland, this is a story about an investigation into multiple murders within the house of one family, with issues such as redundancy and the recession very much part of the overall atmosphere. Spread over a week or so, it's narrated in the first-person by top detective Mike 'Scorcher' Kennedy, who is aided for the first time by a new young partner in Detective Richie Curran. The media coverage is intense thus putting additional pressure on Kennedy to bring the perpetrator to justice as quickly as possible.

Tana French is a very good story-teller, and while this won't do her reputation any harm, it's not quite as special as I had hoped. From an early stage I was hoping for a devastating twist that would smash all that had gone before to pieces, sadly it never came and the tale faded away into a rather unexciting conclusion. The benefits are in the details, the imagery, the character development and of course the dialogue (always a French strength) - but the finished product fails to really satisfy because of its excessive length and its failure to deliver the dynamic ending it needed. It shares some similarities with her previous novel Faithful Place, but for me it simply wasn't as good. The big question of 'who did it' was dragged out to the end but the revelation wasn't a surprise, partly because the list of suspects was so short. In fact there aren't really many characters in the story at all, and aside from the murder investigation the only sub-plot (or side-issue) was the introduction of Kennedy's emotionally unbalanced sister Dina. She's an interesting character and explored in some depth, oddly though she all but disappeared near the end and I was left wondering why she was there in the first place. In fairness though she did one thing that was very influential to the criminal investigation.

There were a lot of tantalising hints of supernatural forces of some kind, which used up a fat chunk of the story, and I feel that this is worth mentioning because the word-count is in the region of 200,000 or roughly double the norm for a crime fiction novel. With only 19 chapters, so each chapter averages 28 long and word-heavy pages; personally I would have preferred a few more breaks than that and often had to leave the book in mid-chapter. Of more importance though is that, in my opinion, every chapter is half-a-dozen pages too long and really this story could have been better for having been 100 or so pages shorter. It's quite good, and while it's not as good as her earlier novels it's still worth reading. I nearly gave it four stars but I think three is a better reflection of how I feel about it.
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Tracked by 1 customer

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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 26 Aug 2012 00:11:40 BDT
Higgins says:
Long yes but as I didn't want it to end I was happy. Ms French writes wonderfully -- the only other author I read every word of is James L Burke.
Great book with strong characterisation.

Highly recommend it

Posted on 10 Aug 2013 15:53:05 BDT
davidp2957 says:
I agree the book could have been 100 pages shorter without detracting from the plot or characterisation. It is a good story, but not great and attempting to turn it into such a long book seemed to me to lead to it losing focus an on occasions rambling.

The issue that caused me some concern about the book was the attitude of characters throughout to mental health issues. The only response to anyone displaying any possible signs of mental health problems was for it to be kept quiet in case the person was taken away and locked up. I was left unsure whether this was simply a clumsy plot device or whether in fact such 19th Century attitudes are still prevalent in Ireland.

Posted on 10 Aug 2013 15:55:34 BDT
davidp2957 says:
I agree the book could have been 100 pages shorter without detracting from the plot or characterisation. It is a good story, but not great and attempting to turn it into such a long book seemed to me to lead to it losing focus an on occasions rambling.

The issue that caused me some concern about the book was the attitude of characters throughout to mental health issues. The only response to anyone displaying any possible signs of mental health problems was for it to be kept quiet in case the person was taken away and locked up. I was left unsure whether this was simply a clumsy plot device or whether in fact such 19th Century attitudes are still prevalent in Ireland.
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Review Details

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4.1 out of 5 stars (115 customer reviews)
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