The culprit this time is Tana French’s new novel, Broken Harbor (Viking Penguin, digital gally via NetGalley). Like French’s previous three books (In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place) featuring a member of the Dublin Murder Squad, it provides addictive pyschological suspense framed as police procedural.
Forget the Florida heat; I’m still chilled by the cold wind whipping through the Irish seaside development dubbed “Brianstown,” although the old name of Broken Harbor would be more appropriate. Abandoned by the contractor during the recession, it’s more a ghost town with its half-built homes and weed-choked lots. The residents who remain in their dream homes paid more for them than they’re now worth, not that anyone is buying these days. Plus there’s blood splattered all over the Spain family kitchen, where father Patrick was stabbed to death and wife Jennifer critically injured. Upstairs, kids Emma and Jack are dead in their beds.
Veteran detective Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy and his rookie partner, Richie Curran, catch the career-building case much to Kennedy’s satisfaction, although he has a past with Broken Harbor from boyhood vacations spent there with his family. As he and eager Richie puzzle over the secrets of the Spain house — curious holes punched in the walls, oddly placed baby monitors and video cameras, the contents of the computer used by laid-off Patrick — the gory headlines out of Broken Harbor further unhinge Kennedy’s mentally unstable younger sister Dina. She begs him to stay off the case, but he’s busy questioning the Spains’ family and friends, as well as their resentful neighbors, waiting for Jennifer to wake up in the hospital.
French is a pro with hints, clues and twists. A peeping Tom, an old photograph, a child’s drawing of a dark something in a tree. All play into a troubling mystery whose menace grows with each passing page. Sure, solving the Spain case could make Kennedy’s career. But it also could bury him. Shiver.