Another fabulous book from Tana French. I almost pulled an all-nighter with this one! If you want a book that transports you to another land, then this is it. Beautiful descriptions of rural Ireland, the brogue and deep characterisation that drops you there.
‘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 how we decide what’s right and wrong in a world where neither is simple, and what we risk if we fail.
Seen through the eyes of a former Chicago police officer, Cal Hooper buys an old shack and attempts to rebuild his life. Peace does not come easily and a young visitor makes it near impossible for Cal to enjoy his retirement. A missing sibling must be found and the mystery takes time to solve. He must tackle getting the information he needs both sensitively and skilfully, and tiptoe around the nuances and eccentricities of local customs.
There is much meandering around conversation, getting to know the villagers and their customs. In essence the book is a slow burn with undercurrents of graver things and threats that would keep a normal person at home. No so with Cal. He is detailed oriented with patience that would put a nun to shame. He needs to get the lie of the land before making decisions and he’s remarkably adept at winning most of the locals around. He also has a life in the US, whether or not he’s trying to forge a new one in a foreign land. He has worries. His daughter for one and an ex-wife who is on his mind and on his nerves.
The locals, equipped with their secrets and foibles are handled realistically and you can’t help liking and disliking a few. Cal might have appeared to have missed a few tricks, but he is persistent in a somewhat leisurely way. Trey is an enigma and the more we learn the more chilling the story becomes. The book is not terrifying, nor is it challenging. I would put it at the comfortable and evocative end of the spectrum. But that’s me. For those who have issues with animal cruelty, there are scenes that may be hard to read.
The writing style, as with all French novels, is impeccable with an easy poetic flow I’ve come to enjoy. The only issue I had with this one is it was a little slow getting off the ground. But what I find a tad tedious — champing to get to the action — others will find fascinating. I don’t take off stars for this. Authors have their own way of drawing out the plot of which French is an absolute master.
- Print Length: 464 pages
- Publisher: Viking (October 6, 2020)
- Publication Date: October 6, 2020
- Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B08681BNKV
WHAT EVERYONE IS SAYING ABOUT TANA FRENCH
‘An engrossing, unpredictable, beautifully written mystery’ SOPHIE HANNAH
‘To say Tana French is one of the great thriller writers is really too limiting. Rather she’s simply this: a truly great writer‘ GILLIAN FLYNN
‘French offers a masterclass in unreliability‘ SUNDAY TIMES
‘I’m a big fan of Tana French‘ IAN RANKIN
‘The Wych Elm should cement French’s place in the first rank of great literary novelists‘ OBSERVER
‘This book confirms Tana French as [crime fiction’s] biggest contemporary star‘ GUARDIAN
‘Terrific – terrifying, amazing, and the prose is incandescent‘ STEPHEN KING
‘Another one of her rich psychological thrillers that will work its way under your skin’ LUCY MANGAN, STYLIST
‘This mystery about family, memory and the cracks in both will haunt you for a long, long time‘ ERIN KELLY
‘A tale of flawed characters, complex relationships and elusive loyalties. Subtle and powerful‘ CHRIS HAMMER
About the Author
French grew up in Ireland, Italy, the US and Malawi, and has lived in Dublin since 1990. She trained as an actress at Trinity College Dublin and worked in theatre, film and voiceover. She is the author of IN THE WOODS (winner of the Edgar, Anthony, Barry, Macavity and IVCA Clarion awards), THE LIKENESS, FAITHFUL PLACE, BROKEN HARBOUR (winner of the LA Times Book Prize for Best Mystery/Thriller and the Irish Book Award for Best Crime Fiction) and THE SECRET PLACE. She lives in Dublin with her husband and two children.
Other books by Tana French