The Searcher by Tana French | The BookBuff Review

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So why did I pick up The Searcher? One – I quite liked the eerie book cover, second peer pressure. Yes! I saw so many book lovers talking about this author and her new book that I was compelled to pick it up. Now to discover whether it was worth my time…. 

The Searcher
Author: Tana French
Publish date: Nov 5, 2021
Publisher: Penguin General UK (Imprint: Viking)
Category: General Fiction (Adult)  | Mystery & Thrillers

Book Review

Rating: 2/5


This is a slow, atmospheric mystery novel set in a fictional town in Ireland. It takes its own time to reveal itself. It is not for someone who wants a fast-paced action thriller. This book needs patience, and acceptance to read some stilted Irish English. As far as I can tell this isn’t the best example of her work. 


The story takes you to an old town with lazy sheep, crazy rooks and some alcohol-loving farmers. 

Our protagonist is Cal Hooper – a not-so-old and retired Chicago policeman.  He’s come to escape his personal problems in an apparently idyllic Irish town. Cal for a while is hypnotized by the misty rains, open mountains and nosy but friendly neighbours. 

However, this cannot be. Cal is drawn in reluctantly to solve a missing person case. 

As he chases the truth, he will soon come to realise that there is much more about this town than meets the eye. 

While the main mystery is quite anticlimactic, but the central theme is the inner journey our protagonist has while chasing the truth. 

My Opinion:

This is a slow burn story. Actually, I can handle slow, but this was: sloooow!

As much as I appreciate atmospheric novels, this felt a bit overdone. I like the beautiful rolling hills and grey skies – I don’t mind the playful rooks – but for more than half of the book we hear of an apparent runaway teenager and some butchered sheep. There is a lot of going around in circles. 

It is interspersed with a rabbit stew recipe, a gory hunting scene, a lot of carpentry and general phone calls made to an estranged family. 

I see there was an attempt to build and then unravel the protagonist’s character, but I do wish the novel was edited a bit more. Some of the fluff was just that. I do think many other characters in the book too deserved a bit more fleshing out. 

Despite this, it does come together (loosely) right at the very end! 

How To Buy The Book:

The book is available at your local bookstore and online here on Amazon (external link)

More about the Author:

Tana French has quite a cult following. Her voice is unique. She is an American Irish writer who started writing in her 30s but is also a professional actor. She has won various awards for her crime fiction books. Tana has written a well-received detective series – Dublin Murder Squad. She has two standalone novels: The Witch Elm and now her new book, The Searcher.

Questions for the Book Club: 

IMP: SPOILER ALERT, visit this section only after you’ve read the book:

  1. Do you think social workers should have been called in to take care of the Reddy children?
  2. What is Cal’s code? Has Cal betrayed his own code by covering up for the crime?
  3. What motivated Mart’s decision to protect Irish tradition at the cost of murder?
  4. Why do you think the gay inclusion and religion discussion was added? Did it add any colour to the town?
  5. What is Trey truly searching for?
  6. How does Cal’s character develop through the book? 
  7. Does Cal’s relationship with daughter define his relationship with Trey?
  8. Does Cal truly escape from his past in the end? Is there catharsis?
  9. Is there another choice or direction you would have as a reader
    preferred making for the characters?
  10. In this town, people like to take care of their own. Do you think this is true of rural towns and villages?

Disclaimer: Thanks to #NetGalley & Viking Penguin for #TheSearcher – an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Akansha is a former business journalist and a seasoned communications professional. She is the founder of TheBookBuff, an avid storyteller, and a lifelong biblophile! Check out her profile page to know more about Akansha.

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