Let me preface this review by saying it’s difficult to read almost anything when you’ve just read an absolutely amazing, life-changing, world-shattering book like Cabré’s Confessions, which I read directly before reading this one.
Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie is your run-of-the-mill crime novel: a vulnerable young woman, a tired and cynical policeman, a female DC who in some ways keeps him going, a case that involves a dead child and a dead policeman.
It is, in other words, a book that tries to be Rebus but fails due to inadequate characterisation. It wasn’t absolutely awful, it just wasn’t convincing either. I nearly put it down, but I persisted because I decided it was only fair – and because I knew that part of my resistance to it was reading it after reading a really excellent book.
But it wasn’t just that. I think part of the reason this one didn’t speak to me was because it’s the author’s first novel. And it’s hard to write a good first novel. It can happen – White Teeth, The Rosie Project – but generally they’re a little unfinished, a little unrefined.
I can see how the characters in Burned and Broken could grow and become a team of detectives that readers would want to follow from book to book, if – and it’s a big if – Hardie stops trying to be Ian Rankin and starts following his own unique voice.
In other words, Burned and Broken isn’t one I’d recommend, but maybe keep an eye out for Hardie’s future books if you’re into crime fiction. I have a feeling this author and his team of crime solvers could grow into something good.
Burned and Broken will be published in paperback on 26th January.
I received a review copy of Burned and Broken from the publisher. All views are my own.