Best Book of 2020
New York Times |NPR | New York Post
"This hushed suspense tale about thwarted dreams of escape may be her best one yet . . . Its own kind of masterpiece." --Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post
"A new Tana French is always cause for celebration . . . Read it once for the plot; read it again for the beauty and subtlety of French's writing." --Sarah Lyall, The New York Times
Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens. But when a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, Cal uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat, and starts to realize that even small towns shelter dangerous secrets.
"One of the greatest crime novelists writing today" (Vox) weaves a masterful, atmospheric tale of suspense, asking how to tell right from wrong in a world where neither is simple, and what we stake on that decision.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Even moving halfway around the world can’t stop a true detective from doing what he does best. Seeking a fresh start, retired police investigator Cal Hooper relocates from Chicago to a ramshackle cottage in the Irish village of Ardnakelty. Soon, he strikes up a friendship with a teenage boy named Trey whose brother has gone missing—and none of the locals seem to give a toss. This pulls Cal into old habits as he digs into the circumstances of the boy’s disappearance and shakes things up in his adopted hometown. Fans of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series will appreciate the change of pace of this mystery about a lone wolf who faces resistance from the suspicious locals at every turn. French is a master of creating an unsettling atmosphere that leaves you spooked without quite knowing why. The Searcher is just that kind of delicious creepy.
After 25 years as a Chicago cop, Cal Hooper, the protagonist of this superb standalone from Edgar winner French (The Witch Elm), decided he needed a change. So he moved to a village in the West of Ireland, "no bigger than the little end of nothing," where people leave their doors unlocked. After three months, his prosaic new life ends when he's sought out by 12-year-old Trey Reddy, who has learned of Hooper's former profession. Trey fears something bad has happened to his 19-year-old brother, Brendan, who hasn't been seen in about six months. Because their mother, Sheila, is convinced Brendan took off on his own, Trey hasn't gone to the police, though the boy's certain his brother wouldn't have done that. Despite Hooper's cynicism ("Anyone could do anything," he thinks), he agrees to look into the matter, starting with questioning Sheila. The more Hooper digs, the more he finds that his new community conceals dark secrets. Insightful characterizations, even of minor figures, and a devastating reveal help make this a standout. Crime fiction fans won't want to miss this one.
So French’s books sweep you up in a lot of drama and mystery but then you get to the unsatisfying endings and you feel ripped off. All of her stories could be told in two sentences but they are dragged out to 400-500 pages. You get caught up and for all the time you invest you want a better payoff. Of all her books this one felt the most like the author just ran out of ideas so it ends with the characters eating and looking at the landscape. Okaaay…I loved this book and the ending was full of possibilities but she took the easy way out. It was like “A kid died oh well…he was trash anyway so let’s all move on.” Wow! And I’m sorry but Cal needs to move back to America. He’s just gonna be ok with living near a guy who is deceitful and a murderer and low key like the town mob boss bully. What happens when Cal doesn’t do what he’s told? He needs to convince Trey’s mom to sign her over to him and he needs to take her to America and let her have a normal life. A mother who beats her own child just cause an old geezer tells her to. Ha! She doesn’t deserve those kids. So depressing. Mart should’ve been reported-maybe Brendan dying was truly an accident but all the other indecent stuff he pulled around town (pulling strings to have power over people) should have repercussions. There was no Justice in this story. Very disappointing.
immersive and poetic
The plot is beautifully woven together with the descriptions of the land. The characters are superbly created, with a keen sense of compassion, understanding and depth. Nothing is black and white, it is all in shades of green and blue like the colors of Ireland. The complexity of the plot and characters make the dichotomy between happy and non happy endings superfluous, it is both and neither.
Tana French is a wonderful storyteller….and knows her way around a good mystery. Really entertaining yarn!