Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Broken Harbor by Tana French


What a bloated, cliched, overwrought mess. I don't understand how this happened. Her first three crime novels were layered with well-developed, multidimensional characters.
This novel orbited around Detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, a peripheral character in her three previous novels. I was looking forward to getting to know more about him, but he turned out to be what everyone else judged him to be in the previous novels: rigid, narrow-minded, cold.
A family gets murdered, with the mother surviving, in the town where his family used to holiday. This brings up all sorts of emotional baggage - his mother killed herself there. I understand that such an event is traumatic and fundamentally affects a person and continues to do so for the rest of their life, but the way it kept being brought up, it was like a broken record. Nothing new was revealed, emotionally, just harped on. His need for control and success are rooted in that event. I get it. How about some growth?
It just didn't make sense. The ham-handed foreshadowing that led to a reveal about his partner and the reveal about what actually took place. Everyone in the story was crazy and it made me feel crazy reading it. I hated all of the characters. None of them were believable. The good friend who turns into a well-meaning stalking creeper? What? I don't recommend this book. I still recommend all three of her other novels.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Faithful Place by Tana French


A detective has to go back to the place where he grew up when belongings of his ex-girlfriend who disappeared 20 years ago are found by a construction crew. He also disappeared on the same night and hasn’t kept in touch with his family because his home life was a fucking horror show. He has to deal with them, his ex-wife, his daughter, and everything he’s been trying so hard not to deal with, but with good reason.
All of Tana French’s novels take place in Dublin, but, other than a few non-American English words, the reader would be hard pressed to know that it’s a “foreign” writer or novel. The people and their stories are universal, which is kind of an odd way to describe really intense crime novels.
I read Tana French’s first book, In the Woods, and loved it. All of her stories seem the same and, even if you know the formula and figure out the ending 5 pages in, you still can’t put them down. This book felt the most intense. Maybe it was just the story, but I know about physical abuse in the home and trying to protect siblings and what that does to everyone. I haven’t come across a book that shows it so well.
If you like the Harry Bosch series by Michael Connelly, you will definitely like Tana French’s writing. Fewer clich├ęs and more intensity. The characters are all from the same police force, but the novels stand alone. I’ve liked each one better than the last.