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The Searcher (2020)

de Tana French

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1,652979,113 (3.9)88
"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"--… (més)
Afegit fa poc perKallieGrace, Arena800, thevoice1208, JoeB1934, deb2425, erosenbe, keelmcg, biblioteca privada
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Es mostren 1-5 de 92 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Tana French is a reliably entertaining writer. I enjoyed this book and it kept me engaged; but I didn't love it. The characters felt a bit too predictable, and the plot, while involving, wasn't brilliant. ( )
  meredk | Dec 2, 2022 |
Honestly a near "4 stars" but there were several aspects that didn't sit well with me.

Cal Hooper, an ex-cop from Chicago tries to "escape" to a major fixer-upper in a remote Irish village. This is not a page-turner---the pace is very slow. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you've got to be in it for the long haul. Roger Clark's slow drawl (most noticeable as the narrator and Cal Hooper) lulls one not to sleep, but you might need to adjust to the pace. There are some clichés -- he's divorced and has an awkward relationship with his adult daughter. That is actually important to the story, and I applaud French for not spelling it out at the end. The relationship changes and evolves and we understand why, but she doesn't hit us over the head with it.

There are various other characters who fill out the village, most importantly 13 year-old Trey, who approaches Cal (that's actually one of the slowest parts of the narrative) with a mystery to solve. Turns out that Trey too is a bit of a mystery. As is almost everyone in the village, including the effervescent neighbor Mart, who embodies the stereotypical happy-go-lucky-spend-every-night-at-the-pub Irishman. Beware false senses of security, however. French's gambit is very much "things are not what they seem" in this book.

The biggest negative for me was the actual "mystery." I found the outcome disappointing as well as the dispassionate treatment of the main event by those involved. Cal's behavior doesn't really make sense at the end, especially since there are many words given over to telling us about his "code" (including a particularly irritating bit when he talks about "morals vs. etiquette" in a way that's quite affirming of white privilege). That said, the relationship with Trey is what kept me in it. Cal does grow, and so does Trey...and French is careful never to get too maudlin. I could have used a bit more outrage on the part of Cal, however, when it comes to what befalls Trey. There's a subtext about poverty and manipulation here that didn't really resonate.

There are beautiful scenic descriptions in the book. This is my first Tana French work, and from what I've read, this is something she is known for. The book definitely does NOT disappoint on this front. From the fauna (rooks, rabbits, sheep) to the flora and everything in between, French paints with her words, and unlike some other recent reads, it never feels gratuitous. Perhaps there's a bit too much time spent in the pub (I'm just not that interested in hearing about people getting drunk), but French tucks in little details that are important, so stick with it.

The pace does make it seem more of a novel than a mystery. Not that they are mutually exclusive categories, but if you are hoping for a whodunnit-crime mystery, this book probably isn't what you want--that aspect almost recedes into the background. But definitely worth it for the scenery and character development ( )
  rebcamuse | Oct 8, 2022 |
The Searcher. Tana French. 2020. What a great book! A divorced, retired Chicago policeman buys a run-down house in a small Irish community. All he wants to do is rebuild his house and visit a pub occasionally. He was through with law enforcement or so the thought. But a Trey and woebegone child from the wrong side of the track, convinces him to look for his brother who has disappeared. The more he looks, the more he realizes there is more this sleepy little community than meets the eye. French is a great writer and know how build suspense and twists plots! ( )
  judithrs | Oct 3, 2022 |
French has made it clear that this book is her effort to write an updated Western, a genre she's recently come to enjoy, but one to which I have had limited exposure outside of movies. That's something to bear in mind when reading these comments. I'm no expert on Westerns, and my expectations for this book may have been inappropriate.

Cal, a retired cop from Chicago with baggage from his work experiences and from his ex-wife, and with a grown daughter he doesn't understand, wants to start the next stage of his life in a quiet rural location. He buys a dilapidated cottage in a tiny community in western Ireland, a location seemingly perfect for his needs (all that scenery and good fishing to boot).

My issues with this book start at this point, since I don't think we ever really got a good answer to the question, Why Ireland? Cal isn't of Irish heritage and there's nothing to indicate he's always been fascinated with the area or ever visited before. Indirectly we learn that he's happy to be away from Chicago winters, and at some point he observes wryly that he thought he was moving to an English speaking area but hadn't counted on the strong accents of the locals as an impediment to communications. Well enough, but I still find that it strains believability that he would purchase property in a location completely unknown to him based solely on an internet search. I guess it's a variation on that concept of saddling up your horse and riding out into the sunset to start over, but it didn't work for me.

That question leads to another more critical one: Who is Cal? We learn scattered facts about him, but they didn't seem to add up to anything solid, to a person who captured my imagination. This was a disappointment to me since it's not been a problem with other characters in French's novels. For instance, I didn't much care for Toby in The Witch Elm, but by the end of the book I understood why I disliked him. I guess we're supposed to accept that Cal is an Everyman with a noble heart and a passion for the law, but for me it just didn't ring true.

I've really struggled with this business of analyzing why Cal doesn't work, for me, as the quintessential Western hero. Maybe it's that he still wants desperately to maintain ties to his wife and daughter. He thinks about them constantly and calls them, the daughter especially, routinely. So that feeling of hero-as-loner never really clicks. It's not just that his past defines him - he can't let go of it in real time.

The plot is reasonably good and gets its strength from French's evocations of the local culture, characters, climate and natural beauty. Cal is sought out by a 13 year old whose older brother has gone missing and who wants Cal to locate him. (Everyone in town knows that Cal is an ex-cop and thus ideally suited for this job.) People get in the way, as is normal with quests of this nature.

Not much actually happens for most of the book. Cal, with help from the kid, works on fixing up his cottage, goes fishing and hunting rabbits, and watches the seasons change. And asks questions, many of which demonstrate his status as outsider to a closed culture.

Things eventually come to a head with one solid action scene, and then the plot just kind of drifts away again. This review is probably coming across as a bit cranky and harsh, but I really expected something different. More energy, maybe, or a different resolution. I realize that my lack of enthusiasm stands in contrast to so many other reviewers, but alas, it is what it is.

I may need to give French a break for a while. As much as I adored the Dublin Murder series, with her innovative plots and crisply drawn characters, these last two standalones have been disappointments.
( )
  BarbKBooks | Aug 15, 2022 |
First, a disclaimer - I'm a Dublin Murder Squad fan, even in the face of the obvious free editorial rein [[Tana French]] is afforded by her publishers, sometimes to the narrative's detriment. I know readers who grew tired of those books because an editor needed a firmer hand with the manuscript. Those folks should try this one, as the narrative is more self-contained and her prose sharpened to a point. The story here, though set in Ireland, is far removed from the Dublin Murder Squad - geographically, culturally, and narratively. Cal, a battered Chicago detective, retires to a tiny West Ireland village where he works daily rehabilitating a run down house - on the nose for metaphors, but not distracting. While working, he befriends a young local who's brother has gone missing and eventually is sucked into investigating the disappearance. French's skill is highlighted in the lush descriptions of the countryside and the local population, many of whom feature prominently in his off-book investigation. This French title has all the typical high points but without most of the drawbacks in the Dublin Murder Squad books.

5 bones!!!!!
Recommended ( )
  blackdogbooks | Jul 31, 2022 |
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"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"--

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