My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Broken Harbour is the fourth Dublin Murder Squad book, this one features the detective, Scorcher Kennedy, from book 3, he of the mixed cliche salad, who had jumped determinedly to the wrong conclusion. In this one Scorcher has his next big case, trying to recover from the humiliation of the Faithful Place case and he has a new rookie to tag along after him. It starts off quite conventionally, with Scorcher and his rookie, Detective Curran, off to a less than half built housing estate on the coast, to investigate the murder of a family. But unlike a lot of murder books, where the action goes all over the place, the action concentrates on just the family’s house and it’s immediate surroundings for much of the book. It’s quite an emotionally intense book, particularly towards the end. There are two suspects, Scorcher thinks it’s one and Curran thinks it’s the other. And there’s mysterious holes in the walls of the house and a computer with the internet history wiped, what was going on in the house before the murders?
The Dublin Murder Squad series as a whole, really covers Ireland’s changing economic fortunes and French utilises this well in her plot lines. In the first three books some of the characters are concerned that the economic good times can’t last and in the fourth book, the good times are very definitely over. The housing estate where Broken Harbour is set is almost a character in itself and it sounds, with it’s shoddily, hurriedly built houses and the abandoned half built ones, to be an utterly horrible place to live. Whereas if you compare it to Faithful Place, from the third book, which on the face of it also sounds like a horrible place to live, as there was a lot of poverty, particularly in the past, had a much more cohesive, supportive community. French is very good at giving places character, you can see it in the second book of the series too, with the house from The Likeness seeming like the perfect place to live on the surface but underneath, it’s anything but.
French also writes the relationships between police officers so well too, I loved seeing the bond grow between Scorcher and Curran.
As well as the theme of the economic collapse, in Broken Harbour, there is also an underlying theme about mental health and cause and effect. Like I said, it’s an emotionally intense book and I really liked it. The only reason why I haven’t given it 5 stars, is that it does drag a little in places but overall, I’d highly recommend the entire series (well I haven’t read book 5, onto that next!).