Published: April 2013
Genre: fiction, mystery
Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy always brings in the killer. Always. That’s why he’s landed this high-profile triple homicide. At first, he thinks it’s going to be simple, but the murder scene holds terrifying memories for Scorcher. Memories of something that happened there back when he was a boy.
Mick Kennedy always solves his cases and solves them efficiently. When O’Kelly gives him a case to work on with rookie partner Richie, Mick races to work. But this triple homicide of a family out in Brianstown, the old Broken Harbor, brings back memories of his own childhood vacations — one in particular he believes mangled his youngest sister’s sanity.
This is the fourth in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. Kennedy appeared in the last, Faithful Place, following the trend of featuring the previous book’s side character as the new protagonist. Also typical of French’s style is the psychological twist within each case. Rather than spanning several weeks or months, this book spans less than a week, and it is packed full of clues, twists, and wild circumstances.
I loved the dynamics of Kennedy’s partnership with rookie Richie. He teaches, he scolds, he praises. He does not belittle Richie like the rest of the department, but instead wants him to learn from his mistakes and observe others in action.
The insanity bits begin to take hold when Kennedy’s sister Dina enters the scene. Her dialogue is fantastic — run-on sentences, incomplete phrases, scattered breaths and punctuation, ideas not quite stringing together. That sort of dialogue continues into Patrick’s character, and later Jenny’s, as you begin to see their worlds crumble around them. This is such an effective way of recognizing the deteriorating mind without it being the mind of the protagonist.
What prevented me from giving this four or five stars is due to the length. There were many passages I felt were unnecessary — whole chapters, even. As much as I enjoyed Dina’s character, I think we could have done without this side story. There was something about it that felt unresolved, or that if it was going to be explored at all then it should be done in depth rather than in the back of the mind or whenever it was convenient.