The Washington Post called Tana French “One of the most talented crime writers alive.” I think they’re right. Broken Harbour, published in 2012, is the second Tana French book I’ve read, and I also admired the first one. In both books, French writes in the first person as a male police officer, and as far as I can tell, assumes the persona perfectly. Maybe she manages this so successfully by steering clear of sex. And maybe the reason she chooses to do this is that female detectives are still too uncommon in Dublin to be convenient protagonists of crime thrillers.
Another characteristic of the Tana French books I have read is the fraught psychological atmosphere that will deter me from choosing to read more of them. I imagine that in life the circumstances surrounding murder are truly depressing, but too much realism defeats the whole purpose of reading escape literature.
In the context of realism, I wonder how realistic the psychology of the characters in Broken Harbour is. We have a family of four, husband, wife, and two children, who are stranded in a shoddy housing estate when recession hits and both parents are left jobless. It’s not hard to imagine one or both of them sinking into depression. It’s entirely plausible that one or both of them would give up, and stop coping. But in spite of French’s talent at creating a foreboding atmosphere, I had a problem with both parents going completely crazy.