Book Review: The Searcher by Tana French

The Searcher
Tana French

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I enjoyed reading Tana French’s new standalone novel, The Searcher, a suspenseful crime story set in western Ireland. Here’s what it’s about:

When forty-eight-year-old Cal Hooper quits the Chicago police force, he thinks a move to the small village of Ardnakelty will be far enough away to forget his problems. He likes the small-town atmosphere and plans to spend his early retirement fixing up the neglected cottage he purchased. His neighbor, Mart and the locals have welcomed him and the village shopkeeper, Noreen is ready to fix him up with her widowed sister. Life is looking good. Then thirteen-year-old Trey Reddy shows up. Trey’s nineteen-year-old brother, Brendan, has disappeared and Trey, a neglected member of the shunned Reddy family, is desperate to find him. No longer a detective, Cal makes no promises, but agrees to look into Brendan’s disappearance.

Cal questions Brendan’s buddies and others in the village, but their evasive answers raise more questions. What’s clear is that Ardnakelty and the larger town of Kilcarrow have bred a restless youth. Maybe Brendan left for London for a better life. Or is the answer up in the intimidating mountainside where the Reddy family lives and where overgrown paths and dangerous bogs warn outsiders to stay out?

Cal senses a hidden and darker part of the town and its people and soon, confusing warnings and a series of violent events threaten Cal’s investigation. Will Cal be able to keep his promise to Trey? French reveals that Cal’s quest to solve the mystery is partly personal. He’s left a failed marriage in Chicago and a career that’s gone bad. In short, he has lost his moral code and wants it back. But first he must understand Ardnakelty’s own complex code.

Parallel to Cal’s investigation is French’s atmospheric portrayal of a remote village with its long histories and complex relationships between families as modern twists to old problems, such as how to earn a living, have seeped into their lives.

Mart’s neighbor tells Cal, “When I was a young lad, we knew what we could want and how to get it, and we knew we’d have something to show for it at the end of the day. A crop, or a flock, or a house, or a family. There’s great strength in that. Now there’s too many things you’re told you want, there’s no way to get them all, and once your done trying, what have you got to show for it at the end?”

The Searcher is a layered story about relationships, personal histories and the pressures of a changing world, set in a place of ominously changing weather. I chose The Searcher because I read In the Woods, French’s debut and the first of the Dublin Murder Squad series, a few years ago and thought it was excellent. I plan to return to the series this year. Have you read any of Tana French’s books? Leave a comment below!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

33 thoughts on “Book Review: The Searcher by Tana French

  1. It’s been almost a year since I’ve entered a Barnes & Noble store, so I was surprised at the genres featured: so many suspense thrillers, horror, and a new one (manga) filled the shelves. I found almost no non-fiction except for celebrity biography. Quite a few romance novels. Memoir was almost non-existent. Now I wonder, Why have I not noticed this trend before.

    Thanks for featuring a crime novelist today. I suppose I should take all this as a nudge to read even more out of my comfort zone.

    Manga: Japanese graphic comics or novels

    1. Hi Marian – I haven’t been in a bookstore in almost a year. I can only tell the trends from our new books at the library. You’re right, thrillers are very popular but we have a lot of new nonfiction too, not just celebrity biography (not my favorite). Manga is very popular with our Young Adult readers. Thanks for the visit and sorry for the delay. Hope you are doing well! 🙂

    1. Hi Lynette – I know what you mean. It’s hard to keep up on everything and I’ve been having a tough time fitting everything in. Thank you for reading and commenting and sorry for such a late reply!

    1. Hi Stephanie – I hope you enjoy her books if you get a chance to try them out. Thank you for reading and commenting – I’m woefully behind on replying and visiting other blogs. Hope you are doing well! 🙂

    1. Hi Jill – I had kind of forgotten about Tana French after I’d read In the Woods. I had no idea that was a series! I’m glad I rediscovered her and plan to go back and read the rest (on my towering TBR list). Thanks for stopping by and sorry for the delayed reply 🙂

    1. Hi Lisa – yes I’ve seen her books in our library sales too! Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope you are doing well and that you’re reading/watching/puzzling something good right now! 😉

    1. Hi Tracy – thanks for the visit and for commenting. I’ve also been wondering why I didn’t read the next 2 books in this series. I didn’t even know they were connected! Ack – it’s hard to keep up with everything, but I think I will go back and read them. Hope you are doing well – Happy New Year to you too and sorry for the delayed reply 🙂

    1. Hi Jennifer – thank you for reading and commenting and sorry for the delayed reply. I like atmospheric novels so this one was a good one for me. Hope you are doing well. 🙂

  2. The idea that we split ourselves into too many pieces and seek fulfilment of too many wants is intriguing, Barbara. I have a strong feeling this is true and it ends up with many people feeling they’ve failed at everything. A most interesting sounding book.

    1. Hi Robbie – thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, I agree it’s best to focus on a few things but the internet pull is difficult to stay away from. Hope you are doing well – sorry for the delayed reply. I’ve been super busy outside of my blog – not sure when that will end but I look forward to relaxing a bit more! 🙂

  3. I loved all of Tana French’s work except for The Witch Elm, which I thought was rather depressing and had characters in them that didn’t feel real at all. I just finished The Searcher and I really liked it. (I could have lived without the hunting scene involving the poor rabbit, but I could see where it was necessary to the story.)
    I think what I like best about her work is that she makes me think….I really liked that quote that you used in the review….and that she shows the good in her imperfect characters. I hate books where everything is black and white: good guys here, bad guys there, and we’re told exactly what we should be thinking about everything.
    Thanks for your review! It was spot on!

    1. Hi Ann – I need to go back and read the earlier Tana French books. Reading The Searcher reminded me of why I enjoyed In the Woods. I agree with everything you said here – thanks for leaving such thoughtful comments! 🙂

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