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Broken Harbor by Tana French

January 17, 2015


I heard about this book on Literary Disco, a podcast about books I occasionally listen to. They compare it to Gone Girl, both because it’s a mystery thriller and because the most recent recession plays a large factor in shaping the landscape of the story.

Broken Harbor gets its name from a real estate development in Ireland that stalled out with the recession, leaving a handful of families with unrealized dreams and a ghost town for a neighborhood. It’s in the home of one of these families that a gruesome triple homicide takes place. And, as is usually the case, the investigation uncovers layers upon layers of weirdness. Baby monitors set up all over the home in some sort of hackneyed surveillance system, random holes smashed into the walls, a vagrant’s nest in the house next door, animal traps in the attic. It’s almost a locked-door mystery.

The mystery itself is pretty compelling, but where this book also succeeds is in the subplots and characters. I usually find secondary plotlines distracting in something like this, but here they’re pretty good and actually help add dimension to the main characters. The relationship between the detectives—the main relationship in most detective mysteries—is also interesting enough. And the writing is solid, the dialogue interesting and insightful. Overall, a pretty good read. Better than Gone Girl, I think.

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