Book Recommendation: Broken Harbor (and also The Likeness) by Tana French
I’m a fiction and sci-fi girl. I rarely go wandering down the aisles of romance or mystery or thrillers when searching for my next read. I’ve never read anything by Tom Clancy or John Grisham. When Gone Girl popped up on the scene as a gripping thriller, I only picked it up because I had been fortunate enough to have been first introduced to Tana French, author of Broken Harbor, and I will gladly read anything that boasts a similar level of captivation and lyricism.
Books and Bars, a Minneapolis-wide book club that comes together over a few drinks at a local bar to talk books, first introduced me to French with The Likeness, the second book in the Dublin Murder Squad series. I started reading The Likeness out of a desire to simply participate, but once I cracked the spine, I hardly closed it until I was finished. Haunting, gripping, and lovely, French joined the ranks of authors I love. I think it is largely because it is the first book of hers I read, but The Likeness has stayed with me. I am reminded of it when I see twins or talk about dopplegangers; even as the details fade from my mind, I remember it as a book that I loved. Broken Harbor is book four of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad Series. Each book follows a different detective on the squad, sometimes characters that played major roles in previous books, and sometimes side characters you breezed past in your frenzy to get to the end. All four books are bestsellers, and for good reason. French paints a world where psychological thriller meets film noir and the result is a world that sucks you in and doesn’t let you go until the last page.
In Broken Harbor, Mick Kennedy, master of self-control, is put on a murder case in Brainstown, once known as Broken Harbor. A husband and his two children are dead. The wife is in intensive care. The whodunnit? is laid out clearly before us, and Kennedy launches into the case with a newbie partner he needs to train, and memories of childhood summers at Broken Harbor that are affecting him more than he cares to admit. I enjoyed Broken Harbor. It is one of those books that allowed me to displace myself from reality for a while. I read it without checking the clock, without writing a grocery list in the back of my mind. It is a priceless gift French has given me, and continues to give. The ability to read like I am young again, a temporary blindness to everything beyond the words on the page.
But I had only just finished when Broken Harbor was already out of my mind, when I was already reading another book and wiping all traces of Mick Kennedy from the literary storage center in my brain. Ultimately, The Likeness haunted me in a way Broken Harbor did not. It kept me up at night with the light on, holding my breath, and glancing up at any unidentified sound. Two years later, The Likeness, still weaves its way through my thoughts, making itself known from time to time, and two weeks later Broken Harbor is back at the library and out of sight, out of mind.
Both books were reads I enjoyed and readily recommend, but Broken Harbor is a beach read: wonderful fun as a distraction, and entertaining while you’re on the ride, but often forgotten when you begin to shake the sand off your clothes to pack for home. Meanwhile, The Likeness has found a comfortable place in the bookshelf of my mind, next to all the worn spines I have grown to love.
Source: I picked this up at my local library.