The Searcher

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By Tana French

Impulse led Cal Hooper, 48, to buy an abandoned cottage in rural Ireland. It gave him a reason to retire early from the Chicago Police Department and put some distance between himself and his angry ex-wife and aloof daughter.
But as satisfying as he finds it to bring the cottage back from ruin, it is a lot easier peeling wallpaper from the walls than entering the tight circle of residents living in the surrounding the community.
He learns to bring his next door neighbor packages of his favorite cookies because the neighbor is feuding with the shopkeeper, who won’t order the cookies for him. The shopkeeper’s long, involved stories of who is who in the neighborhood are too detailed for Cal to retain. He visits the pub from time to time but doesn’t quite fit in.
But his status as an outsider comes fully home to him when a scrawny teenager named Trey recruits him to find his 19-year-old brother Brendan Reddy. Brendan left home in March and hasn’t been seen since. His mother believes he went off just like his father to England. Trey believes he never would have just left without saying where he was going.
As much as Cal believes that Brendan followed the path of so many other young people before him and left for a brighter future elsewhere, his cop’s instincts just won’t let him walk away without investigating.

He quickly learns how well-protected secrets are in this area. Every person he talks to and every question he asks becomes common knowledge. When he won’t listen to polite, veiled warnings to leave Brendan’s fate alone, he finds himself on the receiving end of violence.

This mystery is the first that author Tana French has set in a rural area. It is quieter and slower paced than French’s Dublin murder squad series, but just as absorbing.

Rural isolation and atmospheric weather whose behavior Hooper doesn’t understand contribute to the suspense as Hooper tries to figure out what happened to Brendan and why the community isn’t concerned as well.

And, typical of French’s novels, the mixture of good and evil, both in methods and motives, make this a haunting story.

In an interview with Molly Odintz of Crimereads, French admitted that she drew on tropes from stories of the American West to create THE SEARCHER. Cal is the stranger who walks into town and upsets the equilibrium. And like American westerns, the actions of an individual affect the whole community in ways both intentional and accidental.

It takes more than a Guinness in the pub or a friendly conversation with a shop keeper to penetrate the walls of this community.

About the Author: Tana French (1973 – )

Born in Vermont, Tana French has lived in Dublin since 1990 and has been described as “the First Lady of Irish Crime.”

Her father was an economist working on resource management in the developing world, which meant French’s family lived in many countries, including Ireland as she was growing up.

she was fascinated by both acting and writing since childhood, but eventually focused more on acting.  She trained as an actor at Trinity and works in theater, film and voiceover.

Her interest in writing developed in the months-long lulls between castings in her late 30s. Her first novel, IN THE WOODS, was published in 2007 and won Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry awards for best first novel.
She is known for blending the police procedural and the psychological thriller using flawed heroes and characters that reappear in different books. Including IN THE WOODS, there are six books in her Dublin Murder Squad series. She has also written two standalone novels: THE WITCH ELM (2018) and THE SEARCHER (2020).

Her first two Dublin Murder Squad books, IN THE WOODS and THE LIKENESS, were the basis for an eight-episode series, “Dublin Murders,” commissioned by the BBC, which began airing on BBC One and RTÉ in October 2019 and on Starz in November 2019.



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