I remember when my Penguin sales rep handed me a galley of Tana French’s first book In the Woods back in early 2007. “Megan,” he said, “even if you think you don’t like thrillers or procedurals, you have to read this book. It’s very smart and the writing will knock your socks off.” The man was right–one of the biggest reasons to keep sales reps for publishers around. I read it, loved it, and have since read the follow-ups. What I like best is that each subsequent book focuses on a different character from the murder squad, so you don’t get tired of reading about the same character. It also allows French to explore more themes. She really loves to get into the protagonist’s head and presents a unique story line for each of them.
Her latest Broken Harbor, coming out later this month, features Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, who appeared in a minor role in Tana French’s third book Faithful Place. Here he leads the investigation of the brutal murder of the Spain family in a half constructed housing development called Brianstown. When the wife survives, Kennedy realizes the case–which might make or break his career–is much more complicated. Best of all is French’s psychological portrait of Kennedy, who appears to have the most successful solve rate of all of the detectives but has his own dark past with Brianstown, formerly called Broken Harbor. His troubled sister shows up, dragging back dark childhood memories that threaten his iron tight grasp of right and wrong.
Often by the fourth book of a series, I grow bored or the writing has gone stale, but not so with Tana French. Her stories of the Dublin murder squad remain strong and I will continue to look forward to each new one.