Works of fiction about police procedure are always interesting. The inner workings of a police force are investigated as closely as the crime the detectives are examining themselves. In Mark Hardie’s debut novel, Burned and Broken, readers get not one, but two cases to dig their teeth into: an officer subject to an internal investigation has been murdered and a girl has been killed too. In that regard, you would think that the book contains a very rich plot, with the occasional burst of action. Yet, the gripping intensity which can be found in some of the best crime novels was something Hardie’s Burned and Broken lacked.
Save for the opening scene, where we see the crime taking place, the remainder of the book was somewhat devoid of action, and seemed to focus more on the characters and their investigations. Whilst this certainly helped character development – Donna’s interactions with the deceased Alicia were certainly interesting – there was no sense of intensity or curiosity (the ‘whodunnit’, as it were) which drives lovers of a mystery to read on. Something which caught my eye was a scene with one character dealing with a motorcycle accident, but all of the action seemed to be in the past. We didn’t see the accident happen, and when a body is found hanging from a building, we didn’t see how he ended up there (and of course, there are ways of this being done without giving away the culprit).
The loss of interest was a feeling which emerged a third of the way through reading, and even when it came to a last-minute rush through the remainder of the novel, nothing jumped off the page. Granted, to review a novel when I haven’t read it in its entirety or in detail is not a wise move to make, yet I had read enough to know that this book was not the one for me.
That being said, Burned and Broken does a great job of developing the main characters through the avenue of police procedure – something a debut novel needs to do well. With more books on the way from Mark Hardie which see a return to the Essex Police Major Investigation Team, hopefully there will be more action and intensity for readers to explore the next time around.
Note: Whilst I was sent a free advance reader’s copy of this book for review by Little Brown, this blog post is not sponsored and contains my honest opinion.