Broken Harbor

Broken Harbor

by Tana French

Arlene Almas (07/28/13): I enjoyed “Broken Harbor” even more than the last book I read by Tana French. Like “Faithful Place,” this is a murder mystery set in Ireland with Detective Inspector Kennedy as the protagonist, but much more horrific: it involves the stabbing deaths of Patrick Spain and his two children, Emma and Jack; only Jenny, the mother, survives, though just barely. The Spains lived in a shoddily built, never-completed development called Brianstown, in a location formerly known as Broken Harbor, remote from any populated city or town. The desolateness of the place, due partly to its isolation and partly to its air of abandonment, heightens the unnerving feeling Kennedy and his partner Richie experience when they explore the Spains’ house and discover a series of bizarre anomalies. Their investigation does produce a lead and a prime suspect, but the narrative tugs us back and forth between two possible solutions to this horrendous crime. French’s evocative descriptions of Brianstown, the Spains’ house, and the beach at Broken Harbor in the days when Kennedy and his family used to vacation there when he was young bring us right into the scene, and her ability to bring to life not only the major characters but others as well (Jenny’s and Kennedy’s sisters, the Spains’ Brianstown neighbors and friends from their youth) broaden and enliven the story. This is a winner, suspenseful and well written.

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