#BookReview: The Searcher by Tana French

Hi everyone. Today, I have a book review for you by an author I greatly admire, Tana French. I received a free ARC of this book via NetGalley.

About the Book:

One of the most compulsive psychological mysteries since Donna Tartt’s The Secret History‘ THE TIMES

Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a remote Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force, and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens.

But then a local kid comes looking for his help. His brother has gone missing, and no one, least of all the police, seems to care. Cal wants nothing to do with any kind of investigation, but somehow he can’t make himself walk away.

Soon Cal will discover that even in the most idyllic small town, secrets lie hidden, people aren’t always what they seem, and trouble can come calling at his door.

Our greatest living mystery writer weaves a masterful tale of breath-taking beauty and suspense, asking what we sacrifice in our search for truth and justice, and the dangers of finding what we seek.

My Review:


Many thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for this ARC of one of my favourite authors.

As soon as I saw this book by Tana French available for review, I leapt at the chance. And how happy I was when the publisher accepted my request.

The actual read proved to be a mixed bag, and I’ve found myself wavering over quite what rating to give it. So, here goes …

I loved the start of the story. The wonderful descriptions of small-town Ireland and the locals with all their quirks and customs–and secrets! I also adored the way Cal used simple DIY to entice young Trey to stop stalking and start talking. It was perfect.

Not so well done was the whole long, drawn-out middle bit. I found myself getting so impatient and fidgety. What? Not with a Tana French book, surely? Um, yep … sorry about that. And, further confession, the same with the end. After the main confrontation was over, I felt the narrative meandered more than the infamous mountain bog in the book. Had I had a paperback in my hands, I might have thrown it at the wall in frustration once or twice … but, my iPad … well, you know.

For an ex-chicago cop, Cal bumbled around too much. He missed too many signs and clues. Despite what he’d have us believe, I don’t reckon he had his neck hairs that well trained.

The end, though drawn out, was satisfying and well rounded. It answered all the questions and drew the couple of loose threads together. The writing style was lovely, as ever, and the narrative clean of errors.

So, in many ways, I can see this being a five-star read, but for me it fell flat somehow. So, four stars, then? Well, I wouldn’t and didn’t pull an all-nighter, so–again–nope. I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I’m going for a 3.5 star read, which I’ll round up to a soft 4 for rating purposes. Basically, it sits between a 3 (where I didn’t love it, didn’t hate it) and a 4 (where I’d pull an all-nighter). I liked it more than it being just okay. I actually enjoyed the read for the most part. But, the thing is, it just didn’t have that wow factor. For sure, it hasn’t put me off this writer, but she’s not on my automatic buy list right now, which she would have been before.

If you enjoy a cozy mystery rather than a fast-paced psychological thriller, then you will love this book. So, go and read it! But, if you prefer the latter, then you’re likely to find it luke-warm.

All of that aside, this author has a way with words. The book contains some wonderful turns of phrase, and I felt like I’d been transported to rural Ireland. That takes skill. And if I wanted distraction from my daily cares, this read certainly gave me that. So, thank you.

NOTE ON RATINGS: I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.

4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.
3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.
2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines.
1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.

I’d love to hear what you think of this review. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

20 Comments on “#BookReview: The Searcher by Tana French

  1. Thank you for the review, Harmony! It had shown me the essentials of the very interesting story, and had made me clear my plan hiding me sometimes in a small Irish village is not the very best idea. 😉 Enjoy your week. Michael

    • I’m so pleased you got such a lot from the review. Thanks, Michael, and have a lovely week yourself. You have me giggling about your Irish plans! lols 🙂

  2. Tana French has always been an auto-buy author for me, but I did a DNF on her last novel (The Witch Elm), Everyone raved about it, and it was up for awards, but I just couldn’t get into it. Might have been my frame of mind at the time, so I will likely give it another try, especially given how much I usually devour her books.

    The Searcher is already on my buy list, but after your review I may not rush out and grab it as soon as it’s released.

    As for her way with words, I think she is unparalleled. I lose myself in her prose, which is why I was shocked by the reaction I had to The Witch Elm.

    Thanks for an excellent review, Harmony. Sometimes even our favorite authors don’t deliver all the time. I had that happen last year with another of my auto-buy authors. He’s still on my list, too. 🙂

    • Her superlative prose is why I couldn’t mark it down that much. Thanks for your in-depth comment, Mae 😊

  3. Great review, Harmony! It’s not only specific, but it takes into account that readers read for various reasons. You provided your take so that readers can then choose if it fits their reading style. 🙂

  4. Sounds like it might be a decent case study. There could be something to learn from how this one played out.

    • That’s a good point! The plot was there but not the pacing and characterisation as far as the ex-cop goes. Thanks, Craig 🙂

  5. I love your reviews because they’re reliable, Harmony.

    You went to a lot of trouble to get the ARC of a book you were looking forward to reading, but you’re not afraid to say which parts you enjoyed and where you struggled a bit.

    • For sure. And she is a good writer with some superb prose, so I really couldn’t knock the book down. Just that it proved a slow tale and not really a thriller. Thanks, Sarah 🙂

    • Agreed. I love the cover. Simple in black and white yet effective. Thanks, Denise 🙂

  6. I will avoid this book, Harmony. I don’t like slow, I tend to fall asleep while reading slow. A good review.

    • Sounds fair. It certainly didn’t hijack my eyelids like her other books have. Thanks, Robbie 🙂

  7. It sounds like you gave a fair rating, and maybe even bordered on being generous since she’s one of your favorite authors. But bringing Ireland to life might have saved the book. A good review!

    • The generous side of the review came from the author’s excellent narrative style. She has a way with words. If they’d touted this as a cosy mystery, it would have scored better in my book (if you’ll pardon the pun!). But definitely not a gripping thriller. Thanks, Judi! 🙂

  8. The premise and the way you describe the opening sound intriguing. But if it drags, then I’m not sure.

    Your review reminds me of a book I recently read. There were times I wanted to scream in frustration (like you, I’m not going to throw my tablet against a wall). But something about the book kept me reading.

    I might check into this one. (Since my TBR list is so short.) 🙂

    • It’s a nice gentle read. If they hadn’t touted it as a great thriller, I would have rated it better. For sure, something about it kept me reading, like your book did with you.

      You have me giggling away … short TBR. Oh, my word! Tee he hee. Thanks, Joan 🙂