BURNED AND BROKEN BY MARK HARDIE
Mark Hardie’s debut novel reads like an episode of The Wire set on the Essex coast. At times it can be hard to keep track of exactly what’s going on as the story jumps between characters, plotlines and timeframes. Burned And Broken features sex abuse, murder, police corruption, prostitution and child neglect all within the first few chapters. The two principal characters, DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine “Cat” Russell, both have all the hallmarks of the classic cop hero in crime fiction. There’s the troubled home life, the familiar problems with authority and a dogged determination to do the right thing. The story is set against the backdrop of a sordid and tired Southend (described as being in “terminal decline”), and some of the characters are equally sordid – DI Sean Carragher is the typical bent copper, while Donna Freeman is the classic troubled teenager in care.
The book initially feels stereotypical, written with the sequel in mind ( Burned And Broken is the first in a two-book deal). However, the plot gradually begins to knit together, with a tragic and surprising twist in the final few pages, while the questions about what happens next for Cat and Frank Pearson will leave you anticipating the next instalment from Mark Hardie.