Title: The Searcher
Author: Tana French
Publisher: Viking, Penguin
Publication Date: 5th November 2020
Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a remote 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 then a local kid comes looking for his help. His brother has gone missing, and no one, least of all the police, seems to care. Cal wants nothing to do with any kind of investigation, but somehow he can’t make himself walk away.
Soon Cal will discover that even in the most idyllic small town, secrets lie hidden, people aren’t always what they seem, and trouble can come calling at his door.
I’m a huge fan of Tana French so I absolutely leapt at the chance to read her latest standalone novel, The Searcher. I can confirm it is just as brilliant as I expect from an author who I think is one of the very best crime/mystery writers out there. The story follows Cal, a retired Chicago policeman who, after his divorce, upends his whole life and moves to a remote small village in Ireland. He wants a quiet life, however when a kid from the area comes looking for Cal’s help in finding his missing elder brother, Cal finds himself embroiled in a dangerous and complicated situation.
There is something so utterly brilliant about the way Tana French writes and I wish I could put my finger on just what it is. Her books are rarely short but they are so unrelentingly all-consuming that I find myself flying through them. I could not put The Searcher down. Cal is the perfect main character, likeable and easy to root for whilst also being no-nonsense and surprisingly layered. The ‘idyllic on the surface’ place he has decided to put down roots is such a fantastic setting. At first glance it seems like a cosy and quirky typical small town, however it soon becomes very clear that such places do not exist. There is darkness and light everywhere and there are always secrets hidden beneath the surface. The characters Cal encounters are all fascinating and every single one feels like a realistically flawed human being. Nothing is simple here and every encounter feels loaded which gives the book an impressively tense atmosphere.
I don’t want to give anything at all away about the plot because there are some genuinely shocking twists and turns which deserve to be experienced first hand. What I will say is that this is definitely one of my favourite books of the year and quite possibly my favourite from Tana French thus far which is seriously high praise. It is complex, nail-biting, poignant and phenomenally well written. An easy five star read for me.
I received an e-arc of the book through Netgalley. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.