Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie
Genre: Mystery | Crime
Length: 368 pages
Published on 26th January 2017 by Sphere
Purchase: Amazon | TBD | Waterstones | WHSmith
Mark Hardie: Twitter | Goodreads
Received from Scholastic via Faye Rogers
An enigmatic policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found burned to death in his car on the Southend sea front.
A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.As DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell from the Essex Police Major Investigation Team are brought in to solve the mystery that surrounds their colleague’s death, they’re under intense pressure to crack the case without damaging the force’s reputation.
When a dramatic turn of events casts a whole new light on both cases, the way forward is far from clear. Were the victims connected in some way? And just how much should Pearson and Russell reveal to their bosses as they begin to unearth some dark secrets that the force would rather keep buried?
Mark Hardie’s stylish and gripping debut introduces a brilliant new detective duo to the world of crime fiction, weaving together two suspenseful stories that end in a breath-taking finale.
I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher to take part in the book tour, which I’m super thankful for but this has no way influenced my opinions on this book.
It has been forever since I’ve read any books in the crime genre and I think I’ve finally accepted that science-fiction and fantasy are my favourite genres. However, the synopsis of Burned and Broken really appealed to me so I gave it a shot.
Burned and Broken starts with a prologue which features Sean waking up and burning alive in his car. Its definitely a way to catch your attention and make you wonder whats going on and how did he get there? It really hooked me.
This section of the book takes place a few days before Sean passed away. This allow the author to set the scene with the events that lead up to that point – but not the actual moment of his death. It sets the story. Introduces the different characters.
And most importantly, has different points of view for the story. For me this really helped the story as if I wasn’t fond of a particular narrator it wasn’t too bad as I knew they weren’t the p.o.v for the whole story. I didn’t dislike reading any of the p.o.v just it was clear that Donna and Cat were my favourites.
I enjoyed reading Donna’s story because she’s a troubled teen and this left me questioning why everything was such a blur for her, why she was hallucinating her dead friend, and what else went on in her life prior to loosing Alicia.
Cat’s part of the story was interesting as her partner Sean is currently under investigation by a different branch of the police department for something she’s not sure of and she choosing to give a little lie here and there because she’s not sure if he was ever violent, she’s not sure if he was doing things he shouldn’t as she had no hard evidence. He was also her superior and if everything went badly, how would what she says about him change her life on the police force? I think the dilemma she faces is a very real one and I was intrigued to see what the outcome of her decisions were, as well as if her doubts about Sean’s character were correct.
But overall I found this section to be the slowest paced part for me and I lost a bit of interest here and there as I just wanted to get some answers.
The story started moving at a much quicker pace during this section, or at least that’s how it felt for me. I preferred this part because all the set up had been done. It was now time to join all the dots, to start finding the out most of the answers.
So basically all the characters stories start to entwine during this part. It starts with Sean’s death and the fallout from this. The arrival on scene, the identifying of the burnt body, the noticing of the skull fracture. It was all very interesting.
I really enjoyed how it became clear Donna wasn’t just some little extra side story. That Sean had been the one investigating her friends death, that he’d been the one investigating other characters that had appeared throughout.
But this also is when the book started talking about things I didn’t like. The first was that when Cat was presented with the knowledge that Sean had sexually assault women in the past but charges were dropped she was so confused why these allegations had ever happened as Sean had confided in her that he was gay. No one believes Cat, or had any indication that this may be the case. But it was their reactions to finding out a fellow police man may have been gay which made me feel a bit sick. It was full blown homophobia, it was that “oh but how would the public handle this knowledge if they found out” the whole “its not me, its them” that would have the issue. It really didn’t sit well with me, not to mention that if he was gay then he was the only clear gay character and he was burned alive.
Its also at this point we find out that Sean had problems with gambling, drug taking, and an all round bit of a knob. Too harsh with words in interviews, too forceful with surveillance, too many headbutts and fisticuffs here and there. So y’know not only is our (possibly) gay male killed, he’s also Not Great.
I mentioned that Sean was the only character who was possibly gay, the other that falls into this category is Donna. Its not clear what Donna’s sexuality is, she mostly only interacted with men or made comment on men, however it seems her relationship with Alicia before her death was intense so I’m very certain Donna was queer on some level. So hooray some maybe (queer baiting?) inclusion in a book. Donna is also pretty unstable too so eh its not like that was a glowing portrayal either.
This is the smallest section of the book and also the fastest paced in my opinion. A lot happened in the last 100 (?) pages and this made up for the slowness of part one. At this point I had started connecting some dots before the narrative made them clear which I think indicates a well told story that laid out all the facts and clues for you to piece it together. There were still a few elements that were carefully hidden so you didn’t guess it all so there was still some surprises.
But this part also had some other portrayals I wasn’t happy with. Two people with mental health issues ending up being villainised by the tabloids. I dunno, I’m just kind of fed up of mental health being this taboo thing where the only outcome is for them to be seen as a villain rather than someone who needs help. But this is why I liked Cat, she provided a balance to this ugliness we face because she’s the one who pointed out what the likely mental illness’ were they had and said they needed to see a psychiatrist. She didn’t point blame.
There is still a bigger bad guy imo in the book and he manages to get away at the end. However, this is addressed and leaves it open as if there will be a sequel in which Cat and Frank will probably team up again to capture him and bring down his gross af business.
So overall, I mostly enjoyed this book. It wasn’t an all time favourite. It was a mostly quick crime read. I’ve already passed my copy along to my dad who is way more into crime than I am as of late and who isn’t as caring about how queer people are portrayed so I think it’ll be interesting to hear his view on it – which I’ll happily share whenever he does read it.