Title: THE SEARCHER
Author: Tana French
Publisher: Penguin Group UK / Viking
Read: August 2020
Expected publication: 5 November 2020
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 all the stars!
Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he's bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.
Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.
Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door.
What attracted me to this book:
There is a reason why Tana French is one of my all-time favourite authors, and her books are on my most anticipated auto-buy list. And even though I am still hoping for another instalment in the Dublin Murder Squad series, this did not curtail my excitement on finding out that her new stand-alone novel is coming out later this year. I did a happy dance that sent the dog scurrying outside in fright when I received an ARC from Netgalley!
Every one of Tana French’s books may be quite different from each other, both in characters and even writing style, but there hasn’t been a single one where I have not instantly felt transported into another world within a few paragraphs. THE SEARCHER was no exception. I would almost say that it was French’s most atmospheric book yet, but then I think of the claustrophobic housing development in BROKEN HARBOUR, or the rickety old mansion in THE LIKENESS, or the spooky forest of IN THE WOODS, and come to see that atmospheric settings are her forte! Let’s just say that I particularly liked this one, the small village somewhere in Ireland, surrounded by gently rolling green hills, forests and mountains, and so idyllic at first glance. This is exactly what has attracted retired American detective Cal Hooper to the area and motivated him to settle across the Atlantic in his newly purchased tumble down farmhouse. He just wants a quiet life, and this place promises exactly that. Until a raggedy teenager turns up on his doorstep, and Cal becomes embroiled in a mystery some people are prepared to keep hidden at all cost.
Please note that THE SEARCHER is a slow-burning, character driven book that relies heavily on atmosphere and the things left unspoken to carry the story along. So if you are looking for fast-paced, you may be disappointed. However, if you – like me – love a story brimming with atmosphere and appreciate an undercurrent of menace and danger that is entirely being created by seemingly benign things, then you’re in luck! I enjoy nothing more than a small town setting that oozes intrigue and where everyone has something to hide. French recreates this setting so well!
I also appreciate the way that each character in the book ultimately managed to surprise me as we got glimpses beneath the surface. There again we had that bittersweet feeling of melancholy that is another one of French’s hallmarks. Whether it is the dream of friendship and family (THE LIKENESS), or of a beautiful forever home (BROKEN HARBOUR), or this time a peaceful life and healing from a failed marriage – we can all relate to those at some level, can’t we? However, like life, French has other plans for her characters, and the expulsion from an imagined paradise leaves behind a slight taste of sadness. We know that life for our characters will never be the same after this, and will always carry the scars, and the echo of things that could have been.
All in all, THE SEARCHER is the type of slow burning, atmospheric novel oozing with an undercurrent of menace and danger I have come to expect from the pen of Tana French. Grabbing me from page one, it didn’t let go until the very last page had been turned, and consumed my thoughts for quite some time after that. I enjoyed everything, from the rural Irish setting to its authentic characters and the mystery at the heart of the novel that threatens everything our main protagonist has hoped for when he moved here. I enjoyed every minute of it!
Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin UK / Viking for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.