Friday, March 12, 2021

Literary Friday: The Searcher

 



Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Are you looking for something good to read this weekend that's set in Ireland?  (After all, Ireland's favorite saint's day is this month.)  If so, I have you covered!  Today's review is for Tana French's latest novel The Searcher.  Tana wrote the popular Dublin Murder Squad Series, and it has been adapted for television.  I think you can watch it on Acorn, STARZ, or Amazon Prime.



Four of six books in the Dublin Murder Squad Series


According to Goodreads:

Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he's bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door.

About The Author:

Tana French is the author of seven previous books, including In the Woods, The Likeness, and The Witch Elm. Her novels have sold over three million copies and won numerous awards, including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.


My Review:

When I read a book with a unique setting, it's important to me that the author successfully creates a sense of place.  It irritates me when a book's unique setting doesn't matter, that it could be set anywhere.  Tana French does an excellent job painting the scenery of Ardnakelty, Ireland, the tiny, remote Irish village that retired detective Cal Hooper moves to from Chicago.  Cal is in the middle of renovating a cottage a little ways from the village, and he thinks the smallness and remoteness of Ardnakelty is what he needs to start anew after retirement and his recent divorce.  From the local pub, the mountains and peat bogs, and patchwork land of fields and stone walls, there is no doubt about the setting of this book.

"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 face."
The Searcher, p. 3

If the quote above isn't descriptive enough, there is also a little bit of perceived danger as the book opens with a clamor of rooks living in Cal's garden.  Rooks are predators, yet they have been known to befriend humans and even bring them gifts.  The sinister elements of the atmosphere are nuanced, but they are definitely there.  

The characters are so well-drawn and complicated.  Ardnakelty has its share of unique characters with agendas: some are overt, like the shopkeeper's attempt at setting-up her sister with Cal.  But most of the villagers in general seem to be a part of a sinister conspiracy because they refuse to discuss a missing teen.  There is one exception: the missing teen's brother, 13-year-old Trey, stalks Cal and harasses him until he agrees to help Trey find his brother.  

Cal is a recalcitrant detective for Trey's cause at first, but the more he investigates, the more "that feeling at the back of his neck" is telling him that foul play is a possibility.  As the season turns from summer to autumn, the chilly weather reflects Cal's reception from the villagers as his investigation is noticed.  There are several plot points I did not anticipate, and one in particular that is a complete shock: This is not a predictable mystery.  In the beginning, Cal is working on his cottage's renovation, and his days are very simple and peaceful with hard work and very rustic living conditions.  The plot reflects the slowness of his progress on his home until be stops construction and starts investigating.  Then his bucolic idyll is shattered by violence, intimidation, suspicion, and foreboding, and the plot thickens as it accelerates.  Some of the characters, innocuous and friendly at the beginning of the story, scared me to death toward the end: I was very fearful for Cal.  The mystery's conclusion and the book's ending is highly satisfying which is always a plus.

If you enjoy thrillers and/or mysteries, I highly recommend The Searcher.  



Here is a post featuring other books set in Ireland.


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Do you have any plans to read this weekend?


Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


6 comments

  1. Oh yes!!!!!

    Thank you so much for this suggestion!!!

    I'm reading lots of Light Books. But need a good not-so-Light suggestion.

    Gentle hugs...
    🍀 🍀 🍀 🍀 🍀 🍀

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  2. I love thrillers and this one sounds really good. Thank you for the review.
    Happy Weekend. xoxo

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  3. I like this book suggestion, I am off to see if I can order it from the library.
    Thank you,
    Carla

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  4. I'm surprised at myself that for being a big fan of mysteries and all things and places UK, I've never read Tana French. I think I'd like this series. Thanks for such a complete review -- it's very motivating!

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  5. I loved the descriptive passage you included, and I want to check out the Dublin murder series too, thanks for the recommendations. I love your MKC shamrock plate, I wanted to order one but I waited too long and they were sold out!

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