Flat Crime Fiction: Broken Harbour

A few years ago, I did not read crime fiction.

Hard to believe now, isn’t it? I don’t even remember what triggered my love for the genre a few years ago but now I can’t get enough.

I read the Swedes, the Norwegians, the Scots.  I have a newfound love for Linwood Barclay and continue my love affair with Agatha Christie. Taking a stab at the Irish, I recently read Tana French for the first time and found that The Secret Place was well worth the 452 pages it took to get to a resolution. I was definitely game to read more of her work.

I thought Broken Harbour was the first of the “Dublin Murder Squad” books. It is not – it’s the 4th. Why can I never seem to get the right book in the right order? Why is this so hard?

It seems like they all work as standalones, so it’s not actually that big of a deal.

Detective Mike Kennedy is being given another stab at a high profile case: a family found dead in a house about an hour outside of Dublin, in what is now called Brianstown. He takes his brand new partner, Richie Curran, with him to show him how working a high profile murder investigation goes. When they get to the house, they see that the whole development is a dump – the victims’ house is one of the few finished houses in a sea of half built, abandoned house shells. Kennedy himself feels very uneasy about being back in Brianstown – it had been called Broken Harbour when he used to spend two weeks of the summer there every year as a kid. He has fond memories of the place, until he thinks about their last summer there.

His past is all super secrety and his fear that his younger sister, Dina, will find out about him working this case, is all very interesting but it leads to nothing.

Seriously. This book is 533 pages of dense crime fiction-y writing. And I would have been totally down with that if the secondary story had a point, but it doesn’t. Even the main event is kind of suspect. We spend a lot of time wandering around these wild animal message boards that one of the victims seemed obsessed with. Kennedy is a cranky old detective who wants you to believe that he’s seen it all but when his newbie partner sees things differently, Kennedy refuses to entertain his ideas.

I’m glad that these “Dublin Murder Squad” books work as standalones because I don’t think I want to spend any more time with Kennedy. The sister angle, which could have been so great, was really just sad. Same with the actual crime. It kind of made me feel like a voyeuristic creep for enjoying the sad state of their lives.

At least I didn’t enjoy it too much.

10 thoughts on “Flat Crime Fiction: Broken Harbour

  1. That seems like a lot of pages to just sort of be liking, and to not actually lead to anything exciting. That’s too bad.
    I had no idea that you haven’t always read crime fiction. I still don’t read it much, but you’ll be interested to know that I am reading my first Agatha Christie right now. I found a short one for Novellas in November called Sparkling Cyanide.

    • You are?! That makes me SO HAPPY. Are you loving it? I haven’t read that one!
      Crazy to think now that I didn’t always read it eh? I thought it was kind of low-brow, like it was easy and messy and I didn’t think I was interested. But crime fiction is so much about humans and what makes them tick and ultimately what breaks them. I have been trying to think what it was that finally brought me round and I still can’t remember but I know I will be reading the genre until the day I die.
      But yeah….this one, I could have skipped.

      • I have always felt like they would all be too much the same (as each other), but I’m guessing that isn’t the case. I don’t know why I think/thought that.
        I’m surprised so far by what a good eye Christie has for human behaviour. She’s packing a lot of background and human interaction into such a small space. I have another one coming that I requested (Three Blind Mice), but this one I found when I was just perusing the shelves looking for skinny books that might be good for Novellas in November.

      • There is an incredible amount of terrible human behaviour to be able to cover in crime fiction.
        And yes, that is one of the strengths of Agatha Christie! All of her books are based on human behaviour to solve crime. And I don’t think I’ve figured one out yet!

  2. Boo! I think I could use a good crime fiction to get sucked into. The last one I read was not impressive. Have you read the Unquiet Dead? I really enjoyed it – and she’s Canadian!

    • I haven’t! Sounds like I can skip it though! Have you read any of the Scandinavians? Camilla Lackberg is REALLY good. I always wait for her latest to get translated. The Secret Place by Tana French is worth your time…Agatha Christie is always an excellent palate cleanser – and they’re short! Although for real, read Linwood Barclay. Broken Promise was insane and I also loved No Time for Goodbye. Don’t judge based on the titles!

  3. I love crime fiction but I’m fussy about what I read. I don’t like trashy stuff, I generally go for translated work because writers from other cultures tend to put crime in context and look at the social reasons/outfalls, which is what appeals to me. Karin Fossum from Norway is a good example. That said, I’ve read three of Tana French’s books and enjoyed them, but I totally agree with you about this one: it just goes on a bit, doesn’t it with no resolution. But I did like her examination of the outfall of the collapse of the Celtic Tiger — Ireland is dotted with those “ghost estates” and it’s heartbreaking. I think French was one of the first Irish writers to look at this situation.

    • I’m with you on the translated ones, especially the Scandinavians. And I did like that aspect of it – the whole thing was so heartbreaking. I was in Ireland in 2007 right when it was still enjoying that life. I wish that it had been a better book because I would have enjoyed recommending it for that reason. I’m glad that this sounds like a one off though.

  4. Pingback: Library Checkout: November 2015 | The Paperback Princess

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