Broken Harbor
Goodreads ratings
3.94 / 5

"Broken Harbor" Characters Analysis

By Tana French

mystery | 450 pages | Published in 2012

Mick “Scorcherˮ Kennedy is the star of the Dublin Murder Squad. He plays by the books and plays hard, and thatʼs how the biggest case of the year ends up in his hands. On one of the half-abandoned “luxuryˮ developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children have been murdered. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care. At first, Scorcher thinks itʼs going to be an easy solve, but too many small things canʼt be explained: the half-dozen baby monitors pointed at holes smashed in the Spainsʼ walls, the files erased from the familyʼs computer, the story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder slipping past the houseʼs locks. And this neighborhood—once called Broken Harbor—holds memories for Scorcher and his troubled sister, Dina: childhood memories that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control.

ISBN_13:9780670023653

Estimated read time: 9 min read

List of Characters

Character NameRole
Mick "Scorcher" KennedyProtagonist, Detective
Pat SpainVictim
Jenny SpainVictim's wife
Emma SpainVictim's daughter
Richie CurranSuspect
Jackie SpainVictim's sister
Brian SpainVictim's brother
Olivia SpainVictim's mother
Det. Richie MayKennedy's partner
Detective Fintan MackeyColleague, Friend

Role Identification

In Tana French's novel "Broken Harbor," several characters play crucial roles in the unfolding of the story. The protagonist, Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, is a detective tasked with solving a mysterious crime. The victims, Pat Spain, his wife Jenny, and their daughter Emma, provide the central focus of the investigation. Richie Curran emerges as a suspect, adding complexity to the plot. Supporting characters include Jackie Spain, Brian Spain, and Olivia Spain, who contribute to the character dynamics. Kennedy's partner, Detective Richie May, and fellow detective Fintan Mackey also play important roles in the story.

Character Descriptions

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy

Mick Kennedy, also known as "Scorcher," is a seasoned detective with a reputation for solving difficult cases. He is known for his thoroughness and attention to detail. Kennedy is described as having a strong physique, with a commanding presence that demands respect from his colleagues. He is diligent, methodical, and driven by a desire to maintain order and justice.

Pat Spain

Pat Spain is the primary victim in the novel. He is described as a hardworking man who strives to provide for his family. Pat is known for his affable nature, and his tragic end sends shockwaves through the community.

Jenny Spain

Jenny Spain is Pat's wife and a secondary victim in the story. She is portrayed as a loving and devoted partner and mother. Her character is further explored through her grieving process and attempts to cope with the tragedy.

Emma Spain

Emma Spain, the couple's young daughter, becomes an innocent victim of the crime. Her character is portrayed through the eyes of her family as they navigate the aftermath of the tragedy.

Richie Curran

Richie Curran is a suspect in the case and becomes a central focus of Detective Kennedy's investigation. He is described as a troubled young man with a history of mental health issues. Richie's role in the story raises questions about his potential involvement in the crime and adds a layer of suspense.

Jackie Spain

Jackie Spain is Pat's sister and plays a supporting role in the novel. She provides insight into Pat's background and family dynamics, offering a deeper understanding of his character.

Brian Spain

Brian Spain, Pat's brother, also plays a supporting role. He adds depth to the family's history and relationships, providing further context for the investigation.

Olivia Spain

Olivia Spain, the mother of Pat, Jackie, and Brian, is another supporting character. She contributes to the family dynamics and adds emotional depth to the story.

Detective Richie May

Detective Richie May is Kennedy's partner and a trusted colleague. He provides support to Kennedy throughout the investigation and adds a contrasting perspective to their dynamic.

Detective Fintan Mackey

Detective Fintan Mackey is another colleague of Kennedy's, and their relationship evolves as the story progresses. Mackey brings a different approach to the investigation, challenging Kennedy's methods and beliefs.

Character Traits

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy

  • Diligent
  • Methodical
  • Thorough
  • Commanding
  • Driven

Pat Spain

  • Hardworking
  • Affable
  • Family-oriented

Jenny Spain

  • Loving
  • Devoted
  • Grieving

Emma Spain

  • Innocent
  • Vulnerable
  • Traumatized

Richie Curran

  • Troubled
  • Suspect
  • Mysterious

Jackie Spain

  • Supportive
  • Informative
  • Family-oriented

Brian Spain

  • Supportive
  • Informative
  • Family-oriented

Olivia Spain

  • Emotional
  • Family-oriented

Detective Richie May

  • Supportive
  • Loyal
  • Collaborative

Detective Fintan Mackey

  • Challenging
  • Contrasting
  • Critical

Character Background

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy

Mick Kennedy comes from a family of police officers, which has shaped his dedication to the force. His commitment to justice is partially rooted in personal experiences. Kennedy's reputation as a top detective comes from his relentless pursuit of truth and justice.

Pat Spain

Pat Spain comes from a working-class background and values family above all else. He works hard to provide for his loved ones, and his tragic fate shakes the foundation of his family and community.

Jenny Spain

Jenny Spain is a devoted wife and mother who supports her family. Her background is not extensively explored in the novel, but her love for her family drives her actions and emotions throughout the story.

Emma Spain

As a young child, Emma Spain's background is limited to her immediate family and their interactions. Her innocence and vulnerability make her a sympathetic character in the aftermath of the crime.

Richie Curran

Richie Curran's troubled background, including mental health issues, adds complexity to his character. His history and motives are gradually revealed throughout the investigation, creating suspense and intrigue.

Jackie Spain

Jackie Spain's background is intertwined with her brother Pat's, shedding light on their shared experiences and family history. Her perspective offers valuable insights into Pat's character and the dynamics within the Spain family.

Brian Spain

Like Jackie, Brian Spain's background provides additional context for the family's relationships and history. His support and insights contribute to the overall understanding of the Spain family dynamics.

Olivia Spain

Olivia Spain's background is primarily explored through her role as a grieving mother. Her emotions and reactions offer glimpses into her life and the impact of the tragedy on her family.

Detective Richie May

Detective Richie May's background is not extensively explored in the novel. As Kennedy's partner, he is a dependable and loyal colleague who supports Kennedy throughout the investigation.

Detective Fintan Mackey

Detective Fintan Mackey's background is partly revealed through his interactions with Kennedy. Mackey challenges Kennedy's methods and beliefs, hinting at a different approach shaped by personal experiences.

Character Arcs

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy

Throughout the novel, Kennedy's character undergoes a transformation. Initially, he is portrayed as a confident and driven detective. However, as the investigation progresses, Kennedy's own demons and personal history come to the surface, causing him to question his methods and beliefs. This leads to a shift in his character arc as he confronts his own vulnerabilities and reevaluates his priorities.

Pat Spain

As a victim, Pat Spain's character arc is cut short. However, his tragic fate serves as a catalyst for the events that unfold in the story. Through the investigation and the revelations about his past, Pat's character is developed posthumously, adding depth to the narrative.

Richie Curran

Richie Curran's character arc is centered around his potential involvement in the crime. As the investigation progresses, his motives and actions are gradually revealed, challenging the initial assumptions about his character. This creates a sense of ambiguity and suspense surrounding his role.

Jenny Spain

Jenny Spain's character arc revolves around her grieving process and attempts to cope with the loss of her husband and daughter. Her emotions and actions fluctuate, reflecting the stages of grief as she navigates the aftermath of the tragedy.

Relationships

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy and Detective Richie May

Kennedy and May share a professional relationship as partners in the police force. May provides support and camaraderie to Kennedy throughout the investigation, serving as a sounding board for his thoughts and actions.

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy and Detective Fintan Mackey

Kennedy and Mackey have a complex relationship characterized by tension and contrasting perspectives. Mackey challenges Kennedy's methods and beliefs, pushing him to confront his own flaws and question his approach to the case.

Pat Spain and Jenny Spain

Pat and Jenny Spain share a loving and devoted relationship as husband and wife. Their connection is evident through their interactions and the impact of Pat's death on Jenny's emotional state.

Pat Spain and Emma Spain

Pat and Emma Spain's relationship is portrayed through the eyes of their family. Pat's love and care for his daughter are evident, making their tragic deaths all the more devastating.

Richie Curran and the Spain Family

Richie Curran's relationship with the Spain family is explored through the lens of suspicion and potential involvement in the crime. The nature of this relationship adds complexity to the investigation and raises questions about his motives and actions.

Jackie Spain and Brian Spain

Jackie and Brian Spain's relationships with their siblings, Pat and Jenny, provide insight into the family dynamics and history. Their support and interactions contribute to the overall understanding of the Spain family.

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy and the Spain Family

As the lead detective in the investigation, Kennedy's relationship with the Spain family is primarily professional. However, his interactions with the family members reveal his compassion and dedication to seeking justice for the victims.

The characters in Tana French's "Broken Harbor" come alive through their distinct roles, descriptions, traits, backgrounds, arcs, and relationships. As the story unfolds, their complexities and interactions drive the narrative, creating a compelling and suspenseful reading experience.