Sunday, September 09, 2012

Tana French, BROKEN HARBOR: Short Mention

US cover

UK cover
There's already been a lot written about Tana French's series of "Dublin Murder Squad" police investigations, and BROKEN HARBOR is the fourth -- this time featuring Detective Michael "Scorcher" Kennedy, along with his trainee partner Richie Curran. Each book draws a new protagonist from the secondary characters of the books before it; Detective Kennedy hasn't yet quite recovered from the debacle revealed in Faithful Place (yes, maybe a little better if you read it first but you don't need to). And his family life is a high-tension act of love and stress, and his interior flattened to survive. Because Mick has given up sexuality for the most part, interestingly, French's personal voice seems to come through more clearly in this one -- a voice of grief and longing for what Ireland could be, but maybe will never see again.

For me, it's been fascinating to pair this with John Kelly's new book on the Irish "potato famine" of 1845/1846, The Graves Are Walking. And of course to keep retracing the fury and violence in Stuart Neville's grim and graphic Irish crime fiction -- where the present is linked so clearly to the colonialism and poverty of the past.

BROKEN HARBOR is especially well titled, for the sense of betrayed safety evoked over and over again in Mick's investigation. I'm glad I read it in summertime, where I could go outside and remember that goodness happens at least as often as disaster. It happens for Detective Kennedy, too, but he has to work a lot harder to find it and it's always escaping him.

Check out the two cover designs, by the way -- US and European. Opinions, anyone?

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