In Broken Harbor, Tana French returns to Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the in-your-face cop from her third novel, 2010's Faithful Place. This time, he takes the lead in a Dublin murder squad investigation.
Patrick Spain and his two young children have been murdered in their home; Jenny, wife and mother, is barely hanging on to life in intensive care. At the beginning of the investigation, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie Curran, think it will be a slam-dunk, but there are many weird and unexplained things going on.
Despite the bleakness of their neighborhood (a never-completed development where the money ran out), Pat and Jenny, sweethearts since they were teenagers, strive to keep their home looking perfect. Everything matches, the house is squeaky clean, but wait--why are there several holes punched in the walls? Why are there baby monitors and infrared cameras pointed up inside the holes? Why have computer files been erased? Who is the never-seen prowler, defying all locks and alarms?
These are the questions that plague Scorcher and Richie as they talk to Jenny's sister, Fiona, and eventually to Jenny herself. An old friend, Conor, is also questioned, and this psychological thriller becomes more and more complex with each conversation.
Pat was convinced that he heard an animal in the attic; thus the holes and monitors. No one else ever heard anything. Could Pat be going off the rails because he has lost his job and is about to lose his home?
Scorcher has his own painful history with Broken Harbor, the area now called Brianstown, where he and his family used to spend two halcyon weeks each summer in a caravan. That is, until the last time, when tragedy struck. That family loss has resonated through the years, mostly affecting his younger sister, Dina, who has always been mentally unstable. Hearing about murder in Broken Harbor has sent her reeling. Scorcher and Geri, his older sister, try to care for Dina, but she eludes them. Scorcher doesn't have his own memories as tightly under control as he once thought.
These two separate and very sad stories are multifaceted, complicated by many unknowns and draw the reader deeper and deeper into the psyches of her characters. This is Tana French at her writerly best. --Valerie Ryan
Shelf Talker: Tana French brings back brash detective Scorcher Kennedy, now involved in the strange circumstances of a triple murder. Psychological suspense of the highest order.