Friday, 13 November 2015

Broken Harbour by Tana French

The Content ReaderEver since I read Tana French’s debut novel In the Woods some years ago, I wanted to read something else from her. I really loved the book, although, I was not entirely satisfied with the ending. Maybe because I felt that part of the story did not get an explanation. On the other hand, it leaves you with an option to make your own ending and interpretation. We had a great discussion on it in our reading group. It is open for a lot of different interpretations.

I recently bought her fourth book, and it was with great anticipation I started it. Like with the other book you are directly thrown into a murder case. And not just any murder; it is a murder case with a twist.  The text from the back cover says it all in a few words:
Sometimes there is no safe place. 
Nothing about the way this family lived shows why they deserved to die. 
But here's the thing about murder: ninety-nine times out of a hundred, it doesn't break into people's life. 
It gets there because they open the door and invite it in.  
Michael Kennedy is assigned to this case, together with the newbie Richie Curran. Also here we get parallel stories; the detectives and the actual murder case. They are called out to a new development called Brianstown, former Broken Harbour. Husband and wife and two kids. The wife is still alive but in a serious condition. No signs of intrusion.
Broken Harbour is another fascinating, psychological, murder mystery and you are stuck from page one. We follow the investigation through the two detectives; the older, more experienced one, Kennedy and the younger, new one, Curran. Kennedy is not an easy person to work with and he has his ghosts from the past. His past comes out in bits and pieces, and  his experiences often run parallel to what is happening in the case. Curran manages to impress him with his open and sensitive ways of looking at the case and the people involved. Although the story is told from Kennedy's point of view, most of the hints and the development of the story come via the dialogue. Quite fascinating. There are rather long dialogues between the two of them, and between the detectives and the suspects. They never get boring, since they provide clues and hints, often very surprisingly, along the way. It is a very dialogue driven novel.

I really loved the interaction between the two detectives and their different views on the case and the people involved. It added a perspective on and insight into the murder case. Like if you were there yourself and could add your own conclusions.

I don't want to go too much into the case, which would spoil it for those of you who are interested in reading the book. Personally, I was held captive until the very end. As in In the Woods there is a mystery thread that had me thinking that also this book would end in 'limbo'. However, that is not the case. It highlights more the psychological tensions  and how small things can make a whole family go over the edge.

It is a gripping story, not only the murder case, but the personal story behind the victims and their friends and family. Her description of the new development area, Brianstown, is spot on. It came out as a grand project for young families, beautifully situated by the sea, nature all around and the much needed infra structure of shops, bars, schools etc, all in the planning. Somehow the whole project goes wrong and half of the houses are never finalised, surrounding the ready ones like a ghost town. You can feel the despair of the families who invested their money in their dream project. It is a fantastic, atmospheric setting for this murder case.

After having read wo books by Tana French, I want to read more . There are three more; The Likeness (2008), Faithful Place (2010) and The Secret Place (2014). I am happy to know that there are still three more books for me to read. And who knows? By the time I have finished the last one...there might be another one?

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