Mick 'Scorcher' Kennedy, the play-by-the-rules nemesis of Frank Mackey in Tana French's last psychological thriller Faithful Place is back in her latest Broken Harbor, only now it is he that is the central figure and the narrative voice. And it turns out that when you hear him in his own voice, he may not be quite the pompous ass Frank Mackey had painted. Point of view, it turns out, is everything.
Once again French takes us to Dublin and environs. Murder D picks up a high profile case out in a jerry-built real estate subdivision decaying in the Irish economic collapse. Three members of a family of four, two children and the father have been killed and the mother has been horribly wounded, but is still alive. Kennedy and his new partner, Rich Curran, a rookie he is training are assigned to the case. At first it looks to be open and shut: it should "have gone like clockwork," Mick tells us, but of course, 400 some odd pages later nothing is ever as simple as it looks.
The great thing about a Tana French thriller is that it is as much, if not more, interested in the characters and their psyches as it is in the who-done-it, and it is the psychological motivations of both the investigators and the investigated that makes the who-done-it worth reading about. As French puts it: "To me, the most crucial and devastating thing about any murder isn't the physical act; it's the immense emotional and psychological implications—both the psychological process that leads to the killing, and the enormous fallout after the crime." She probes not only the mindset of the suspects, but that of the investigative team as well. Indeed, it is her adept portrayal of these psychological processes while making sure to keep the reader turning pages with dispatch that has been the hallmark of her fiction from the very beginning.
Add to this a critical look at the effects of the financial crisis on a middle class family as jobs are lost and money begins to run out and you've got the kind of story that could well be making the front pages of tabloids in cities around the world. What happens to the middle class psyche when you follow all the rules, have all the right values, do all the things you're supposed to only to find yourself betrayed by those values.