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The Searcher
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The Searcher
A Novel
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A New York Times, NPR and New York Post Best Book of 2020 "This hushed suspense tale about thwarted dreams of escape may be her best one yet . . . Its own kind of masterpiece." —Maureen Corrigan, The...
A New York Times, NPR and New York Post Best Book of 2020 "This hushed suspense tale about thwarted dreams of escape may be her best one yet . . . Its own kind of masterpiece." —Maureen Corrigan, The...
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  • A New York Times, NPR and New York Post Best Book of 2020
    "This hushed suspense tale about thwarted dreams of escape may be her best one yet . . . Its own kind of masterpiece." —Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post
    "A new Tana French is always cause for celebration . . . Read it once for the plot; read it again for the beauty and subtlety of French's writing." —Sarah Lyall, The New York Times

    Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic 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 when a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, Cal uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat, and starts to realize that even small towns shelter dangerous secrets.
    "One of the greatest crime novelists writing today" (Vox) weaves a masterful, atmospheric tale of suspense, asking how to tell right from wrong in a world where neither is simple, and what we stake on that decision.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    One

    When Cal comes out of the house, the rooks have got hold of something. Six of them are clustered on the back lawn, amid the long wet grass and the yellow-flowered weeds, jabbing and hopping. Whatever the thing is, it's on the small side and still moving.

    Cal sets down his garbage bag of wallpaper. He considers getting his hunting knife and putting the creature out of its suffering, but the rooks have been here a lot longer than he has. It would be pretty impertinent of him to waltz in and start interfering with their ways. Instead he eases himself down to sit on the mossy step next to the trash bag.

    He likes the rooks. He read somewhere that they're smart as hell; they can get to know you, bring you presents even. For three months now he's been trying to butter them up with scraps left on the big stump towards the bottom of the garden. They watch him trudge up and down through the grass, from the ivy-loaded oak where they have their colony, and as soon as he's a safe distance away they swoop down to squabble and comment raucously over the scraps; but they keep a cynical eye on Cal, and if he tries to move closer they're gone, back into the oak to jeer down at him and drop twigs on his head. Yesterday afternoon he was in his living room, stripping away the mildewed wallpaper, and a sleek mid-sized rook landed on the sill of the open window, yelled what was obviously an insult, and then flapped off laughing.

    The thing on the lawn twists wildly, shaking the long grass. A big daddy rook jumps closer, aims one neat ferocious stab of his beak, and the thing goes still.

    Rabbit, maybe. Cal has seen them out there in the early mornings, nibbling and dashing in the dew. Their holes are somewhere in his back field, down by the broad copse of hazels and rowans. Once his firearm license comes through, he's planning to see if he remembers what his grandpa taught him about skinning game, and if the mule-tempered broadband will deign to find him a recipe for rabbit stew. The rooks crowd in, pecking hard and bracing their feet to jerk out bites of flesh, more of them zooming down from the tree to jostle in on the action.

    Cal watches them for a while, stretching out his legs and rolling one shoulder in circles. Working on the house is using muscles he'd forgotten he had. He finds new aches every morning, although some of that is likely from sleeping on a cheap mattress on the floor. Cal is too old and too big for that, but there's no point in bringing good furniture into the dust and damp and mold. He'll buy that stuff once he has the house in shape, and once he figures out where you buy it-all that was Donna's department. Meanwhile, he doesn't mind the aches. They satisfy him; along with the blisters and thickening calluses, they're solid, earned proof of what his life is now.

    It's headed into the long cool September stretch of evening, but cloudy enough that there's no trace of a sunset. The sky, dappled in subtle gradations of gray, goes on forever; so do the fields, coded in shades of green by their different uses, divided up by sprawling hedges, dry-stone walls and the odd narrow back road. Away to the north, a line of low mountains rolls along the horizon. Cal's eyes are still getting used to looking this far, after all those years of city blocks. Landscape is one of the few things he knows of where the reality doesn't let you down. The West of Ireland looked beautiful on the internet; from right smack in the middle of it, it looks even better. The air is rich as fruitcake, like you should do more with it than just breathe it; bite off a big mouthful, maybe, or rub handfuls of it over your...

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2020

    Just announced, this latest from the multi-award-winning, Dublin-based French features former cop Cal Hooper, who's moved to rural Ireland to escape memories of Chicago's bloody streets and his own bloody divorce. But all's not peaceful; soon, he's dragged into helping a local lad find his missing brother and realizes that idyllic villages can have dark secrets.

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2020
    A retired cop takes one last case in this stand-alone novel from the creator of the Dublin Murder Squad. Originally from North Carolina, Cal Hooper has spent the last 30 years in Chicago. "A small place. A small town in a small country": That's what he's searching for when he moves to the West of Ireland. His daughter is grown, his wife has left him, so Cal is on his own--until a kid named Trey starts hanging around. Trey's brother is missing. Everyone believes that Brendan has run off just like his father did, but Trey thinks there's more to the story than just another young man leaving his family behind in search of money and excitement in the city. Trey wants the police detective who just emigrated from America to find out what's really happened to Brendan. French is deploying a well-worn trope here--in fact, she's deploying a few. Cal is a new arrival to an insular community, and he's about to discover that he didn't leave crime and violence behind when he left the big city. Cal is a complex enough character, though, and it turns out that the mystery he's trying to solve is less shocking than what he ultimately discovers. French's latest is neither fast-paced nor action-packed, and it has as much to do with Cal's inner life as it does with finding Brendan. Much of what mystery readers are looking for in terms of action is squeezed into the last third of the novel, and the morally ambiguous ending may be unsatisfying for some. But French's fans have surely come to expect imperfect allegiance to genre conventions, and the author does, ultimately, deliver plenty of twists, shocking revelations, and truly chilling moments. Slow moving and richly layered.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 31, 2020
    After 25 years as a Chicago cop, Cal Hooper, the protagonist of this superb standalone from Edgar winner French (The Witch Elm), decided he needed a change. So he moved to a village in the West of Ireland, “no bigger than the little end of nothing,” where people leave their doors unlocked. After three months, his prosaic new life ends when he’s sought out by 12-year-old Trey Reddy, who has learned of Hooper’s former profession. Trey fears something bad has happened to his 19-year-old brother, Brendan, who hasn’t been seen in about six months. Because their mother, Sheila, is convinced Brendan took off on his own, Trey hasn’t gone to the police, though the boy’s certain his brother wouldn’t have done that. Despite Hooper’s cynicism (“Anyone could do anything,” he thinks), he agrees to look into the matter, starting with questioning Sheila. The more Hooper digs, the more he finds that his new community conceals dark secrets. Insightful characterizations, even of minor figures, and a devastating reveal help make this a standout. Crime fiction fans won’t want to miss this one. Agent, Darley Anderson, Darley Anderson Literary, TV and Film Agency.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from September 1, 2020
    In another stand-alone (following The Witch Elm, 2018), French again displays impressive versatility. After the procedurally rich Dublin Murder Squad mysteries, she jumped to crime from the victim's and suspect's points of view in the highly introspective The Witch Elm. Now she goes in another new direction: a variation on country noir, set in a remote village in Ireland's West Country. Wearing the scars of both a painful divorce and 25 years with the Chicago Police Department, Cal Hooper buys a fixer-upper in Ireland, looking to decompress while reclaiming his dormant DIY skills. Naturally, it doesn't work out that way, especially the decompressing part. An encounter with the sullen and mostly silent Trey, who becomes an able assistant on the remodeling project, leads to Cal agreeing to help search for the gender-fluid teen's brother, who has disappeared. Soon Cal is bumping heads with the tight-lipped locals and with a gang of thugs, the "boyos from Dublin." French skillfully builds suspense, as the search reveals great turmoil beneath the village's bucolic facade. This is a fine thriller, but it's also a moving story of an unlikely friendship that grows from refinishing a ramshackle desk to rebuilding two nearly broken lives. Trey evokes both the vulnerability and inner strength of Ree Dolly in Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone, a country noir that, like The Searcher, finds tenderness in the troubled hearts of its recalcitrant characters.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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