In Broken Harbour, a ghost estate outside Dublin - half-built, half-inhabited, half-abandoned - two children and their father are dead. The mother is on her way to intensive care. Scorcher Kennedy is given the case because he is the Murder squad's star detective. At first he and his rookie partner, Richie, think this is a simple one: Pat Spain was a casualty of the recession, so he killed his children, tried to kill his wife Jenny, and finished off with himself. But there are too many inexplicable details and the evidence is pointing in two directions at once.
Scorcher's personal life is tugging for his attention. Seeing the case on the news has sent his sister Dina off the rails again, and she's resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family, one summer at Broken Harbour, back when they were children. The neat compartments of his life are breaking down, and the sudden tangle of work and family is putting both at risk . . .
You can tell from the very start that Stephen Hogan's narration of French's fourth thriller about the coppers of Dublin's murder squad is going to be a standout. It's not just because his melodic, accented voice is such a perfect fit for the book's protagonist, Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy. It's that Hogan performs French's words, turning Scorcher's first-person narration into a nuanced, naturalistic monologue and his conversations and interrogations into what resemble full-cast ensembles. French's book is a psychological study of its leading characters wrapped in the popular trappings of a police procedural. The case on the murder squad's docket is a brutal attack on the Spains, a family living in a hastily gentrified suburb, that has left the father and two children dead and the mother severely wounded. Hogan does a stellar job capturing the book's gloomy atmosphere (a result of Ireland's economic downturn) and the effect it has on the characters. But Hogan's greatest success is his portrayal of the highly moral Scorcher as he mentors his partner, cares for his unstable and difficult sister, and desperately tries to do the right thing even at the cost of his honor and his job. A Viking hardcover.