Tana French’s “Broken Harbor”

I was hoping that in Broken Harbor, Tana French’s fourth novel, the protagonist would be Stephen Moran from Faithful Place, a young detective with great potential to be captivating. Well, to my disappointment, the narrator is Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, not one of my favorites from the previous novel. Luckily, my disappointment didn’t last. Mickey turns out to be a very captivating charaacter, despite his knack of jumping the gun in his investigation (consistent in both novels), which, of course, doesn’t help him maintain his image of the “best” detective on the police force.

To be consistent with my own knack of not giving away any spoilers, I’ll point out only one important idea (out of many) that strikes me in this thriller:  Keeping up your appearances no matter what and caring too much about what others think of you, even at the expense of your own sanity, can destroy you. Here’s proof: “Once you tell one person, it gets out. ….no way was I going to have people laughing at us—or, even worse, feeling sorry for us. … As long as people thought we were doing great, we had a chance of getting back up and doing great again. If people think you’re some kind of lunatic losers, they start treating you like lunatic losers, and then you’re screwed. Totally screwed.” (402) Well, it isn’t just sad, it’s heartbreaking.

Here’s another interesting quote: “If you can’t stand your own life, these days, you go online and get a new one. If everyone you’re talking to believes you’re a jet-set rock star, then they treat you like one; and if that’s how everyone treats you, then that’s how you feel. When you come right down to it, how is that different from actually being a jet-set rock star, at least part-time?……You’re still sitting in your one-bed apartment in….eating Scooby Snax, even if you have the world thinking you’re drinking champagne in a five-star hotel in Monaco….. Basically, people talk crap to impress each other. Nothing new there. They’ve done it… since forever; cyberspace just makes it easier.” (140)

Hmmm… Makes you think twice about certain posts on Facebook, doesn’t it? 🙂

I love this novel and I can’t wait till her next one. Highly recommend!

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2 thoughts on “Tana French’s “Broken Harbor”

  1. Nadya, I agree that Tana French is a captivating writer. Her writing is so good that you are sorry when the book ends. I did think some parts of her novels could be pared back a bit, but she definitely reels you in- the holes in the wall? the family losing its grip on reality, facing economic destruction, and as you mentioned, the desire to keep up appearances at all costs (although sometimes think that is underrated in modern society- not deceiving oneself or presenting a false facade as on Facebook, but trying to maintain a certain dignified mien- her obsession with keeping the house clean when her husband lost his job, for instance.

    • Beth, thanks for the comment. I agree with everything you say, and want to add that I, frankly, thought that some scenes were a bit too long and detailed (those emails the husband sends out, asking for help dealing with that “wild animal” in his attic/walls, ex.) But yes, French is a gifted writer and I’m looking forward to her next book.
      Re: presenting a false façade on Facebook, well, it’s true. Some people seem to spend their entire day on Facebook, bragging about their families, accomplishments, posting pictures of themselves and their kids, sharing all kinds of details of their lives….with LOTS of people! I’m guilty of it too, I admit, because I advertise my books. Not that it helps :).

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