Friday 27 January 2017

Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie

Published by Sphere on June 2, 2016

Burned and Broken is an intriguing book right from the start with a prologue that captured my attention and imagination. As D.I. Sean Carragher burns in his car, I had plenty of questions on my mind such as who did it and why. When the author does deliver the answers to those questions, I found them satisfying. One thing that stood out in this book for me was the gritty themes it covers which appeared something different than many other crime novels out there. Not only is there a policeman in flames to lure the reader in, Burned and Broken touches on mental health, sexuality and the care system, all aspects that made the book refreshingly different in comparison to many others in the same genre.

The book is split into three parts. Despite the gripping prologue, I found the story a bit of a slow-burner. Whilst the pacing itself generally came across as quite fast, for me this was more down to the short chapters which kept on luring me in and willing me to read “just one more…”. Whilst I complied, I found it took me a while to settle into the book. There was something about the author’s writing that left me a little confused. It appeared simple enough, with a good level of detail, but there were a few moments, especially early on, where I didn’t really understand what was going on. For the first half of the book, I was probably more drawn in by the quick chapters rather than the plot itself, although it became a far more engrossing read later on. I really enjoyed the short chapters as they make you want to read on and I found Burned and Broken a very difficult book to put down.

The novel takes us from the force investigating the death of Carragher to Donna and Malc. They were both interesting characters. I was particularly interested in Donna’s story as she struggles to let go of her friend Alicia who died without anyone really getting to the bottom of it. I didn’t really connect with Donna but I found her story fascinating and I suppose I did sympathise with her at times as she struggles to cope. Malc was a character I expected nothing from but I was surprised by how interesting I found his character to be. His viewpoints at times made me uncomfortable but as a character, that’s what I liked about him.

There are so many crime series out there that it is always nice to start one from the beginning, where we can meet the force for the first time and follow them knowing there could be many more books to come. DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell look like they have a lot more to give in future books. I thought this was a decent introduction for them. We get quite a good feel for them both through Cat’s links to Carragher and a build-up of Pearson’s character later on. I really liked Cat’s character and personally so far I prefer her. Even though I wasn’t fully enamoured by the duo, I will be looking forward to reading the next book in the series as they have great potential.

Overall Burned and Broken drew me in and the further into the book I was, the more compelling and the more satisfying I found it. When I considered all the elements of the book once I’d finished, I thought how it would make a great movie. There are some very filmic aspects to the story which I think would work really well on the big screen.

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