Broken Harbor (Paperback)
Penguin Books, 9780143123309, 450pp.
Publication Date: April 30, 2013
August 2012 Indie Next List
— Susan Taylor, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, NY
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A New York Times bestseller and quintessential Tana French thriller--a damaged hero, an unspeakable crime, and an intricately plotted mystery--the novel that "proves anew that Tana French] is one of the most talented crime writers alive." (The Washington Post). Don't miss Tana French's newest novel, The Trespasser, available now
Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy plays by the book and plays hard. That's why he's the Dublin Murder Squad's top detective, and that's what puts the biggest case of the year in his hands.On one of the half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children have been murdered. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care. At first, Scorcher thinks it's going to be an easy solve, but too many small things can't be explained: the half-dozen baby monitors pointed at holes smashed in the Spains' walls, the files erased from the family's computer, the story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder slipping past the house's locks. And this neighborhood--once called Broken Harbor--holds memories for Scorcher and his troubled sister Dina: childhood memories that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control.
Winner of Ireland AM Crime Fiction Book of the Year.
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- French’s protagonist, Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, prides himself on his self–control. Is Scorcher’s self–control as strong as he imagines? In what other ways might Scorcher’s self–image be somewhat incorrect?
- French writes with considerable affection for Ireland. However, her books often contain more than a hint of lament for the country’s recent decline. What aspects of Ireland in the present day seem to sadden her most?
- Scorcher believes that post–modern society has begun to turn “feral” and that “everything that stops us being animals is eroding, washing away like sand” (p. 85). Do you agree with Scorcher’s assessment? Explain why or why not. How does Scorcher’s view of society dovetail with his self–image?
- How do Scorcher’s class prejudices affect his perceptions of the Spain case? Is class bias the only reason he is so desperate to believe in the integrity of Patrick Spain?
- The relationship between Scorcher and Richie evolves rapidly, beginning as one between an all–wise mentor and his trainee but transforming into a much more contentious one. Discuss this evolution and the ways French uses it to develop the two men’s characters.
- Why do you think Scorcher doesn’t want to have children? Try to come up with as many plausible explanations as you can.
- Tana French is a master of creating characters with virtues that are turned into vices by unlucky circumstances. What are some examples of this kind of characterization in Broken Harbor, and how do they act as a commentary on human nature?
- Explaining her madness, Dina says, “There is no why.” Why is this statement especially disturbing to her brother, Scorcher?
- How has Scorcher’s childhood shaped the person he is now?
- How have the more youthful experiences of Conor, Pat, and Jenny shaped their characters and destinies?
- Tana French manages the emotions of her interrogation scenes with great expertise, creating tremendous tensions and moving toward great crescendos of feeling. Read over one of these scenes and discuss how the emotional force builds, breaks, and subsides.