Review: The Searcher by Tana French

Title: The Searcher

Author: Tana French

Published: 5th November 2020, Viking UK

Read: November 2020 courtesy PenguinUK/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

The Searcher is a compelling stand alone mystery from Irish author Tana French, best known for her Dublin Murder Squad series.

Upon the end of his marriage and his retirement from a twenty-five career in the Chicago P.D., Cal Hooper decides to move to a rural village in the west of Ireland where he intends to do little else than to renovate his dilapidated farmhouse, fish from the stream, and walk the mountains. He finds the relaxed pace of his new life, enhanced by a regular craic with his neighbour, Mart, and the occasional drink in the local pub, suits him, though he misses his adult daughter. But Cal can’t quite shake the habits of a lifetime and when thirteen-year-old Trey Reddy begs for his help, he reluctantly agrees to look into the disappearance of the desperate kid’s older brother.

While it’s true that this is not a fast paced thriller, I was nevertheless drawn in, and held captive by the compelling characterisation, atmosphere and plot of The Searcher.

The first half of the book focuses largely on establishing and developing the characters that play an important role in the story. I liked Cal, a burnt-out ex-cop who doesn’t want, or need, much. He’s fine being on his own but not defensive about it, as shown by his willingness to indulge his garrulous neighbour, Mart. His patience with Trey, who is a smart, fierce kid from a poor family with a bad reputation, is admirable, and the relationship French develops between Cal and Trey is a true strength of the novel.

The community of Ardnakelty is a character in itself. I was impressed with French’s ability to effortlessly evoke the settings within her novel, from Noreen’s general store and Sean Og’s pub, to Cal’s isolated, ramshackle farmhouse surrounded by fields, and woods, and peat-bog mountains. There is a great deal lurking below the surface of this rural idyll, and its seemingly straightforward farming folk, with surprises that break through when least expected.

Trey’s brother, Brendan, has been missing for several months by the time Trey asks Cal for his help. No one else seems concerned by the absence of the nineteen-year-old, the assumption being he left voluntarily, either because he’d had enough of life at home, or perhaps to avoid some sort of trouble. Cal is instinctively wary of pushing too hard for information as his investigation begins, but in such an insular community his interest is immediately noted, and as Cal tugs at the threads that will unravel the mystery of Brendan’s fate, he draws trouble to his doorstep.

With its escalating tension, unexpected twists, and flashes of violence, I found the plot to be wholly satisfying, but it’s less the action, and more the complex and nuanced behaviours of the characters that are truly captivating. Unfolding in evocative prose with an Irish lilt, at a deliberate, absorbing pace The Searcher is a compulsive read.


Available from Penguin UK

Or from your preferred retailer via HiveUK I Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Linda Moore
    Nov 25, 2020 @ 01:30:13

    Very nice review.
    This book sounds good.

    Liked by 1 person


  2. sandysbookaday
    Nov 25, 2020 @ 16:58:55

    Great review Shelleyrae. I also loved this. ❤📚

    Liked by 1 person


  3. Mystica Varathapalan
    Nov 25, 2020 @ 17:33:22

    Thank you for the review.



  4. Verushka, an editor (@SydneyEditor1)
    Nov 25, 2020 @ 22:05:49

    I tried reading and watching her Dublin Murder series and couldn’t quite get into it, but this one really does sound sooo good, especially your description of the characters/ characterisation.



  5. Heather @ Random Redheaded Ramblings
    Nov 26, 2020 @ 08:32:23

    Thanks for your review, this sounds good.

    Liked by 1 person


  6. Anne - Books of My Heart
    Nov 27, 2020 @ 06:22:30

    I’m sure I would love this and should read this author. Fantastic review!

    Liked by 1 person


  7. Helen Murdoch
    Nov 29, 2020 @ 10:20:08

    I have to confess I’ve never read a Tana French novel, but I seem to be the only one. I’ll have to figure out which one to read first.



  8. Trackback: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? | book'd out
  9. Mae Sander
    Nov 30, 2020 @ 06:07:52

    I agree with you about the book, which I read (and blogged) a few weeks ago. Local color can be used in various ways, often not-so-good, but I liked the way French did it here.

    My review:

    be well… mae at

    Liked by 1 person


  10. Carla
    Dec 21, 2020 @ 13:21:14

    Great review Shelleyrae. I have read mixed reviews of this one, but I still hope to read it. I like a good character based story.

    Liked by 1 person


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