Spooky har­bour keeps us guess­ing

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - MICHELLE WIENER

Bro­ken Har­bour, the fourth novel in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad se­ries, takes its name from the for­mer sea­side re­sort where Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy (the by-the-book de­tec­tive who an­tag­o­nizes Frank Mackey in 2010s Faith­ful Place) va­ca­tioned as a teen with his fam­ily. It’s where he re­mem­bers be­ing hap­pi­est; it’s also the point in time and space where he now be­lieves things went south for ev­ery­one.

Bro­ken Har­bour has since been flagged for de­vel­op­ment and rechris­tened Bri­anstown, a generic name that mir­rors the cook­iecut­ter houses that were started and then aban­doned when the econ­omy col­lapsed. Chaos out­side, chaos in: Scorcher is called to Bri­anstown to in­ves­ti­gate a triple homi­cide in one of the houses. Pat Spain and his two chil­dren are dead; his wife, Jenny, sur­vived the at­tack, but barely.

It’s a typ­i­cal murder in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the sur­face, with Kennedy as­signed to rookie de­tec­tive Richie Curran and a botched case on his record driv­ing him to pur­sue pro­fes­sional re­demp­tion — but of course in French’s nov­els noth­ing is ever straight­for­ward pro­ce­dure. Part of the rea­son is the amount of care French de­votes to her char­ac­ters. Her un­par­al­leled abil­ity to cre­ate won­der­fully flawed char­ac­ters makes us just as in­vested, if not more so, in their per­sonal lives.

For Kennedy, the per­sonal and pro­fes­sional are in­tri­cately linked, and watch­ing him at­tempt to keep con­trol over both is cap­ti­vat­ing and at times wrench­ing.

The case it­self is rigged with French’s blend of twists, mis­di­rects and macabre de­tails, be­com­ing more bizarre and sin­is­ter as it goes. So much of the plea­sure in­her­ent in read­ing these nov­els is in try­ing to fig­ure out where things are go­ing and be­ing con­stantly sur­prised, not to men­tion spooked. I pre­dict Bro­ken Har­bour will be on more than one Best of 2012 lists — it’s def­i­nitely at the top of mine.

Bro­ken Har­bour

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