Broken Harbour by Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad #4)

Another Piece of Tana French Magic – 4 Stars 

cover“The nice guys are all over there, in seventh place.”  Leo Durocher, Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers

Just to be clear, Broken Harbour has nothing to do with Baseball.  Leo Durocher gave us this great quote that was ultimately condensed to Good Guys Finish Last.  Broken Harbour explores a character that does everything right.  He believes that you only get what is coming to you.  If you are a good person, work hard and do the right things that you will have happiness.  Essentially, bad things happen to bad people.  The story develops a character that is bound by his rules and structure and operates with a profound sense of duty to his job and his family.  Personal happiness is sacrificed to further these goals.

Overall, the story is classic Tana French with beautiful prose and imagery.  As an example when describing one of the main characters and crime victims she writes, “It wasn’t a remarkable face in any way, but it had a clean-lined sweetness that brought up summer barbecues, golden retrievers, soccer games on new-mown grass, and I have always been caught by the pull of the unremarkable by the easily missed, infinitely nourishing beauty of the mundane.”  I have said it before and will say it again, I simply loving reading whatever Tana French writes.

As always, the story develops in such a way that the Main Character feels the pull to cut corners, takes risks or make decisions seemingly out of their character, or more properly stated, decision that stem previously unaddressed flaws in their character.

Broken Harbour may be my least favorite of the series.  This is not a knock on the novel but simply as a result of finding the nice guy, “Scorcher” Kennedy to be the least interesting in the series.  I guess this means nice guys finish last in my book.

Plot summary

Scorcher Kennedy, the top detective on the murder squad and the investigating officer from Faithful Place is called to investigate a high profile but seemingly straight forward murder of a man and his two children.  A fourth victim, the wife and mother of the murder victims is found barely clinging to life at the crime scene.  Was this a murder by a stranger, a murder by an angry father and husband or a crime by someone close to the family.  The character driven story explores the life of the victim family and explore mental illness and the devastating effects it can have when untreated.

The Good

Tana French writes beautifully.  I say this with every book and Broken Harbour is no exception.  She masterfully develops the character of Scorcher Kennedy and while bringing this strong and determined character to his breaking point.  The story develops a different type of character than in her other books.  Unlike the other characters, Scorcher isn’t quick to bend the rules or betray his values.

The Bad

Being a good guy, Scorcher Kennedy was less interesting than the other characters in the series.  Tana’s characters tend to be obviously broken in some way.  This always leads to plot developments.  While it ultimately becomes clear in what way Scorcher is broken, it develops slowly and is less interesting.

Audiobook Notes

I listened to about 80% of the audiobook until I ultimately finished by reading.  This was not a knock on the audiobook.  I simply want to get the conclusion and it is quicker to read.  While the narration was good, it wasn’t to standard of the previous 3.  I would give it a 4 of 5.

Content Advisories

It is difficult to find commentary on the sex/violence/language content of book if you are interested.  I make an effort to give you the information so you can make an informed decision before reading. *Disclaimer* I do not take note or count the occurrences of adult language as I read. I am simply giving approximations.

Scale 1 – Lowest     5 – Highest

Sex 1

There is no real sexual content.  There is talk about teenager dating and first kisses and suitable for any reader.  There is some content related to stalking resulting from unrequited love but there is nothing that would be considered adult content.

Language –  3.5

While there is less adult language than Faithful Place, there is still liberal use of the F-word and lesser use of religious exclamations and scatological references.  Tana French often uses different adult language to differentiate classes.  She does not shy from adult language and the use is moderately high.

Violence 3.5

The story is a murder mystery so there is obviously significant violence.  There central murder involves the stabbing to two victims and the suffocation of two children.  There is a discussion of suicide and forms of violence related to mental health issues.  None of the violence is graphic in nature.  While some readers will have difficulty with violence as it relates to the children, the murders are mentioned but there is no exploration of the method and no scene depicting those murders.

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Tim Written by:

Tim is a lawyer, sports fan, parent, husband and book lover. He runs his own legal practice and is the founder of The Literary Lawyer book blog and a contributing writer for Tim loves to share his love of reading by providing reviews to entertain as well as provide information to help you make an informed reading decision.