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!