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Complex characters make for a harsh, thrilling Irish tale in The Searcher

Tana French, author of the Dublin Murder Squad series, is back with a brilliant standalone novel, The Searcher, writes Sadie Robinson

Issue No. 2730

The Searcher by Tana French

The Searcher by Tana French


This is a beautifully written and engaging thriller set in a rural part of Ireland. The descriptions of landscapes, weather and wildlife are great to read for anyone living in a busy city.

But while the setting might be beautiful, it is far from peaceful.

French is perhaps best-known for her Dublin Murder Squad books, which were made into BBC series Dublin Murders last year.

The Searcher, a standalone novel, is just as good.

Retired US cop Cal has moved continents to try to escape the pressures of city life.

At first it seems he has succeeded and the reader can enjoy his new, simpler life along with him.

But it turns out that similar dangers to those he left behind exist everywhere.

Cal is a great character. We find out gradually about the breakdown of his marriage and start to figure out the reasons for its ending.

French paints a picture of a man who has lost his way, ended up somewhere he didn’t expect and isn’t sure how it happened.

Cal regularly reminisces about being with his daughter when she was young. Now she’s older and they are in different countries, they have less of a connection.

He sets about doing up his ­dilapidated new home, but is distracted from this soothing work when a young kid called Trey starts to visit.

Trey eventually pulls Cal into investigating the mystery of a ­missing brother.

Both these characters are very well written and there’s a great twist in the character of Trey.

Cal’s informal investigation brings him up against many of the ­townsfolk for one reason or another. There is a creeping, unsettling sense that ­something isn’t quite right.

The story doesn’t drag at all, and there are enough side plots and minor characters to hold the ­reader’s interest.

French gets across horribly how people can be pushed into carrying out brutal acts because they believe it’s the least bad option.

The dilemmas that people find themselves in help to create ­characters that aren’t black and white.

It’s a great read with a relatively simple plot that nonetheless creates all kinds of complications.

The Searcher by Tana French is available now in hardback for £14.99 and £9.99 on Kindle

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Reviews
Fri 6 Nov 2020, 15:20 GMT
Issue No. 2730
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