The Searcher by Tana French

Mama put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore
That cold black cloud is comin’ down
Feels like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door

Currently at 99p on the Kindle, so of course I went ahead. I think I’ve now read all of Tana French’s novels, which says enough I suppose that I don’t need to say much about this.

One of her standalone thrillers*, the protagonist here is Cal Hooper, a former Chicago cop, who has found himself alone after 25 years on the job. He’s bought a run down old house in the West of Ireland and seems to have fitted in quite well. He has been adopted by his neighbours, enjoys a pint in the local pub, and has plans for fishing and hunting—rabbits, that is.

A local kid starts hanging around and eventually asks Cal’s help in finding her missing brother. Just when you think you’re out, they pull you back in, etc.

*Looked at through another lens, this is, of course, the classic set up for a Western. A stranger rides into town. A retired sheriff. The local community on the surface seems settled and civilised, but there are underlying problems and secrets. Outsiders threaten. The retired sheriff reluctantly takes up his gun.

French has by now the vernacular of rural Ireland, and an affection for the landscape and its people, along with a clear-eyed outsider’s view of the reality of rural poverty — especially for the young. Casual drink-driving, local gossip, conversations about one thing which are really about another, and a beautiful landscape which can turn deadly in unexpected ways.

There are some entertaining twists and turns here, most of which I did see coming, but this was still a good read. A slighter story perhaps than The Wych Elm, but still worth your time.

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