Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Searcher - Tana French


Well, it took me a while. I’ve been seeing Tana French’s name all over the place, and hearing nothing but good things about her, for the last several years, but until The Searcher I had not experienced one of French’s novels for myself. For that reason, I suppose it’s appropriate that The Searcher is one of the author’s two standalone crime novels rather than part of her six-book “Dublin Murder Squad” series. 


The “searcher” referred to in the novel’s title is Cal Hooper, a retired American cop who has moved to a remote part of Ireland where he hopes to live a life as different from the one he knew in Chicago as possible: no guns (other than his hunting rifle), no crime investigations to concern himself with, and sadly for Cal, no wife now that he’s freshly, and painfully, divorced. And for a while, it looks like all that might actually happen for Cal. Then he notices that a local kid is secretly watching his every move as he goes about the business of refurbishing the worn out old cottage he’s purchased - and he wants to know why the kid has taken such a keen interest in him.


As it turns out, young Trey Reddy has heard that Cal is an ex-cop from the big city and believes that makes Cal the perfect man to find the kid’s missing older brother. Cal wants no part of any kind of investigation, especially one with the potential to bring him into a confrontation with local police and equally as likely to leave his new neighbors convinced that he is sticking his newly-arrived nose in places he has no business sticking it. But Trey Reddy is not the kind of kid who takes no for an answer, and despite all his reservations about what he is about to do, Cal soon finds himself snooping around on the kid’s behalf - and that’s when the locals notice what he’s up to.


Cal quickly realizes that the only thing beautiful about life in this little Irish town is the scenery he sees outside his windows. Almost nothing else is what it seems, perhaps even including his relationship with the elderly neighbor who seems to have taken Cal under his wing so that the American can ease himself into this new life without first offending all the locals. Cal, though, is not a quitter, and the more encouragement he gets to mind his own business, the less likely it is that he will do so. And one of the first things he learns about Trey is that the kid is even less a quitter than he is.


Bottom Line: The Searcher is a relatively slow-paced story about a lonely man and a lonely kid who need each other more than either of them realize. It is one of those crime novels in which the crime is secondary to the characters and how they change over time. No one will call this one a thriller, but that is most certainly not a bad thing in this instance. The Searcher is a satisfying novel in which one of the main characters comes of age at the same time that another one is having his eyes opened for him. Recommended. 


Tana French

10 comments:

  1. I have this one on my Kindle. From what you say it sounds like just my kind of thing so I will probably read it this year.

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    1. I do think you'll like it, Cath. Tana French is interesting to me...born in Vermont but seems to have spent much (most?) of her life in Ireland. She is a very good storyteller, and her characters, at least in this one, are fully-fleshed human beings.

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  2. I have the audio of this one but, I just might like the print or eBook. I like the sound of this a lot!

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    1. I never considered the audiobook, Diane, mainly because it was even harder to get from my library than the print version. That would be interesting, though, considering the fact that the main character is American and all the others Irish. It would require a reader able to cover the accents well enough to make them believable.

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  3. I've read a few of French's Dublin Murder Squad books, but I haven't read this one yet. She's a good writer though.

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    1. I plan to read some of the Murder Squad Ones later this year - and I just bought a nice copy of her "The With Elm" standalone in a used-book bookstore. She's definitely someone I want to read more from.

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  4. I think most of French's novels prioritize character over plot, but the Murder Squad books definitely move faster than THE SEARCHER. Still, if you liked this one, you'll probably like her others. She's one of my favorite crime writers!

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  5. I'm definitely going to sample the Murder Squad Books soon, Susan. I'm impressed with her writing style and her character development, and looking forward to reading more of her stuff.

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  6. I love the Murder Squad books, and the French would take a character from one novel and develop the next novel around that character. I have a request for The Searchers, but may not be able to wait that long.

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    1. I wonder if French is done with the Murder Squad series, at least for now? It's been five years since the last one. I like the idea of continuing-characters taking turns as the lead in the books. That seems to irritate some of the series readers, but I find it to be a nice twist.

      I waited for The Searchers for over three months, but coincidentally picked up a like-new copy of her previous book, The Witch Elm, for just a few books the same day I finished The Searchers. Sometimes you just don't want to wait. :-)

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