Friday, November 20, 2020

The Searcher by Tana French

The Searcher
by Tana French
Read by Roger Clark
Published October 2020 by Penguin Publishing Group
Source: checked out audiobook from my local library

Publisher's Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:
I'm pretty sure I've made it clear that I'm a big fan of Tana French; her Dublin Murder Series never disappoints. The Searcher is not part of that series and I was eager to see if I would like a stand alone book by French as much. 

Janet Maslin, of the New York Times, says that French doesn't write genres or thrillers..."She writes full-bodied novels in which crimes happen to have been committed." The Searcher is very different than French's other books but Maslin's assertion seems to be even more true in this book than in her others. Cal Hooper may have been looking more at location, location, location when he bought his house but what French gives us is atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. The setting is vivid.
“The air is rich as fruitcake, like you should do more with it than just breathe it; bite off a big mouthful, maybe, or rub handfuls of it over your face.”
French could have made this nothing more than the story of a stranger in a new land finding a way to fit in to his new surrounding and it would have worked for me. Her characters are so interesting - you will feel that you know them but also that there is something that there are secrets they are keeping. That's where the mystery of this book comes in. What has become of Brendan Reddy, the son of a ne'er-do-well and a part of a family the people of Arknakelty would like to ignore? No one much seems to be concerned, except his sibling, Trey who finds out that Cal used to be a police officer and won't leave Cal alone until he agrees to help find Brendan. Finding Brendan is a slow-burn part of the plot, often feeling like it's almost part of the background. Until it isn't and suddenly readers are put on edge wondering where the danger is coming from. Along the way, though, the real strength of this book is the relationships Cal forms with several of the villagers - with his nosy neighbor, Mart; with the woman the town is trying to set him up with, Lana; but most importantly, with Trey. 

French has said this book is an homage to the American Western and you can certainly see that in much of the story line. Cal is the John Wayne of this novel. His back story is a bit clunky and French might well have cut part of it out without losing a thing; all of it results in a lot of introspection on Cal's part, which can also be a bit of a drag on the book. 

Some reviewers are calling this book one of French's strongest novels, others one of her weakest. As for me, I was utterly immersed in it. Roger Clark does a wonderful job of reading the book; periodically his Irish accent break through into his "American" narrator's voice, but that's a small complaint. I liked Cal and I enjoyed watching him try to work out his own issues, figure out what's what in his new home, and deal with an angry teenager. Once again, French did not disappoint. 


  1. I might pick this one up since it's a stand alone. I've read a couple of her Dublin books and I loved them but I am not a fan of book series. They tend to disappoint after awhile so I gave up on them. I am so fickle.

  2. Glad you liked this one. I've heard good things and I love her Dublin Murder Squad series. Yay! Can't wait to pick this one up.