Oh god. Devastating. There is no joy in this book - none at all. This may sound obvious, with the plot centring around the homicide of a family (including children), but in each of French's previous novels there is always a gentleness somewhere, a few moments of respite and of lightness and of hope. Yes, even the first (Into The Woods) which deals with psychopaths and the murder of a child. I'm not sure if the plot in Broken Harbour is the reason for the absence of all of these, or if it is due more to the character.
Scorcher may be French's least likeable character thus far, but yet he is human, and pitiable for all his "strength" and bluster. It is remarkable how French is able to give each of her characters such a distinct voice without giving up her style of writing. Scorcher talks differently, is not inclined towards poetic description and yet the book loses none of that poetic beauty that appears to be French's trademark. Anyway - I liked him. I think that's what made everything more painful to read.
As usual, the plot is tightly wound, slow to unravel with an ending that frustrates as much (if not more than) it satisfies. I think the worst part in this novel (and by worst, I mean most heart-wrenching) is that there is no solid black and white, good and evil. There are wrong choices made for right reasons, good people who do awful things - essentially, this book is completely human.
I don't think it is quite as good as the previous three, and I'm unsure if I only feel that way because of its bleakness or if it genuinely is a lesser novel. However it is still a stunning read, and I'm beginning to feel that "not as good" by Tana French is a hell of a lot better than many writers' "goods".