Tana French, Broken Harbour (2012)
Well, I’m done. I can’t take it any more. There’s only so much gloom and tragedy I can take.
Only so many flawed police inspectors with a personal tragic back story that gets somehow entangled with a current case.
Only so many untied loose ends in the plot that you feel that you haven’t finished reading long after you’ve turned the last page.
Even if it’s perfectly written, with an atmosphere and a setting that gives you goosebumps (or makes you want a stiff drink), some deep societal issues (economic crisis, corruption linked to the Irish economic bubble, unemployment) and deep personal stories (trying to keep up with the Joneses, wanting to be perfect at all costs, breakdown issues, suicide issues, betrayal issues, respecting the law vs. your own moral conscience).
Anything else? Oh yes, add children murders. And perhaps an evil monster or two hiding in your home.
I confess I may have skipped a few pages, or my eyes have glazed over one too many scenes of heartbreak. I have read 3 books by Tana French too quickly (here), there should be a medical warning like on the cigarettes pack: “Never read this book in larger amounts, or for longer than prescribed. Reading too much of this writer may cause serious or life-threatening side effects.”
I did wonder what was French’s point for all this misery (obviously, it sells well). Not that I criticize her skills as a writer, because, wow, I have to bow and respect that. Setting the crime in a decaying, half-finished housing estate whose crooked developers sold dreams before disappearing with the cash is a stroke of genius. The book is a police procedural, a whodunnit, but also a thriller and a horror story all in one. A very dangerous combination indeed. Once you’ve started you have to read it till the end, and she doesn’t spare you.
It’s not even schadenfreude, not even a way to punish the reader’s perverted wish to witness terrible things. My take is that she wants to uncover the possibility of anyone to act monstrously. And shove it in your face. But that’s not something I’m comfortable with right now (will I ever?). Sorry Ms. French, I don’t have the stomach for another Dublin murder squad mystery for quite some time I suspect.