In the latest from the author of The Witch Elm, a Chicago cop named Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic Irish village would be the perfect escape from his old life. But when a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, Cal uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat.
... an audacious departure for this immensely talented author ... there’s a lot at work in The Searcher, even if its story sounds simple ... One of this book’s many pleasures is French’s way of building Cal and Trey’s bond ... These scenes are keenly observed, with a strong sense of place, and unfailingly entertaining. They’re also ominous, given what we know about the close-knit, gossipy nature of the town ... Nobody beats French when it comes to writing pub scenes fraught with tension ... This is why you read Tana French: for the nuances that go into an ambush like this, and for her ability to immerse you in the moment completely. As you read this scene, the sidelong glances and daggers in the small talk come flying off the page ... Where does The Searcher” stand in the lineup of French’s books? It’s an outlier: not her most accessible but not to be missed. It’s unusually contemplative and visual, as if she literally needed this breath of fresh air. It steps back to examine the policing powers she has traditionally taken for granted. And it’s her foray into the natural world, which is so welcome right now. It’s also slower than some of her other books. But as Cal says in the folksy western voice he often affects here, 'All’s you can do is your best.'
... the great power of this suspense story comes from its slow, measured pacing and the intensifying evil of its atmosphere ... French’s writing...is eerie and nuanced. Indeed, even though her Dublin Murder Squad series and her other stand-alone mystery, The Witch Elm, have been uniformly excellent, this hushed suspense tale about thwarted dreams of escape may be her best yet. Like the John Ford film it pays homage to, The Searcher is its own kind of masterpiece.
... French manages to portray the attitudes and prejudices of Cal’s maleness without judgment, while ultimately also demonstrating the necessity of his acceptance of the limits of his moral code and his distance from the violence, both natural and social, that predates his entrance into what he had thought would be his retreat from urban strife ... The Searcher blends qualities of French’s best novels ... French expands that closeness and cruelty from a family to a community, and in so doing tells a tale that blends the history and the contemporary reality of a relentlessly palpable village crossroads.