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July 24, 2012

Pub Day: Broken Harbor by Tana French

Today, Tana French's fourth book in her Dublin Murder Squad series is available. Broken Harbor features Detective Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy from Faithful Place.

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the brash cop from Tana French’s bestselling Faithful Place, plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder squad’s top detective—and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands.

On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care.

At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks.

And Broken Harbor holds memories for Scorcher. Seeing the case on the news sends 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 Harbor, back when they were children. 

With her signature blend of police procedural and psychological thriller, French’s new novel goes full throttle with a heinous crime, creating her most complicated detective character and her best book yet. From

"[Tana French] has irresistibly sly ways of toying with readers’ expectations." New York Times

"Once again, Tana French introduces us to a whole cast of characters who will immediately grab a place in your life, and they won't let go." Seattle Mystery Bookshop 

"Once again, Tana French introduces us to a whole cast of characters who will immediately grab a place in your life, and they won't let go." The Kansas City Star

About the Author:

Tana French is the author of three bestselling novels, including the award-winning In the Woods. She has won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards for Best First Novel and the IVCA Clarion Award for Best Fiction, and has twice been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Best Mystery/Thriller. She lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter. 

Three Questions with Tana French

We first met detective Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy in Faithful Place and he was regimented and unlikable. What made you turn this character around in Broken Harbor?

One of the things I like about writing ‘chain-linked’ books, where a secondary character from one turns into the narrator of the next, is that it gives me the chance to explore how complex and subjective identity can be. One person’s view of another is likely to be skewed, and almost certain not to be the whole truth. In Faithful Place, Frank Mackey sees Scorcher Kennedy as a pompous, rule-bound, boring git – but that’s because of who Frank is and what he needs to see. From Scorcher’s own viewpoint, he’s much more complicated than that, much more intense and much more deeply broken.

How did you become so expert on police procedures?
I’m lucky: I know a retired detective who’s been kind enough to help me out with a huge range of questions, as well as telling me the stories that give me some feeling for what that life is like. When it comes down to it, though, I often ditch the reality in favour of what works for the story. To take the most obvious example, there’s no Murder squad in Ireland – but In the Woods needed to have that tight-knit, elite, hothouse atmosphere, so I invented one. I still need to know the reality, though. If there are inaccuracies in these books, I want them to be because they benefit the story, not because I goofed.

How has your background in theater shaped the way you write/reach out to your audience?
I definitely write like an actor, and I think acting was great training for writing. Deep down, it’s basically the same skill: your job is to create a real, complex, three-dimensional character and draw your audience into his or her world, deeply enough that they go away feeling like they know this person intimately. Every now and then I get an e-mail from someone who feels like the characters have become close friends. It’s probably the best compliment I can get. 

There are also practical advantages to the acting background. If I write a line of dialogue and then realise that, as an actor, I couldn’t say that, or if I have a character do something and then realise that I couldn’t play that, then I need to do some rewriting.


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