(30. - 1135.) The Searcher by Tana French - Life in western Ireland is not Chicago. Former Chicago police detective Cal Hooper is glad. Worn out from the turmoil of current policing in America he is seeking a new start. An old cottage needing lots of work occupies his body. His mind is less settled. A failed marriage lingers on.
His neighbours live modest lives connected to the land. All of them have spent their lives there. Generations of relationships tie them together. Unexpectedly to Cal, he eases into the community comfortably. They appreciate his approach.
After a working life of constant awareness and dealing with people problems:
It’s occurred to him that he might have an
unexpected talent for letting things be.
Yet Cal’s sensitivity to what is going on around him remains high. His innate curiosity drives him.
He carefully builds a relationship with a poor 13 year old, Trey Reddy, who has a personal reason for looking up the former detective. Cal searched for missing people in Chicago. Trey’s brother, Brendan, is missing. Trey wants Cal to search for Brendan. Cal refuses. The teenager is devastated and angry.
Cal spent years as a detective living with the dread that “something bad” was coming his way. The feeling had gone away when he arrived at the farm. Now it is back.
The investigative instinct cannot be denied and Cal changes his mind.
While a big man who was a successful city detective, Cal is also a subtle man. When trying to disarm those who consider themselves sophisticated he is adept at “rednecking up”. He finds in Ireland, as he did in Chicago, that:
Acting like a hick can be all kinds of useful.
Still he is a “blow-in” and some wonder if he will last the winter.
Yet he is misguided in thinking he can discreetly ask questions about the missing boy. His “conversations” are recognized as interrogations.
In a poteen filled night at the local pub he is obliquely, yet clearly, warned against continuing his inquiries.
Cal’s intense commitment to investigations as a detective was a major cause of the breakup of his marriage. A warning, whether indirect or blunt, is not going to deter him.
French’s lyrical descriptions of the west Irish countryside, its people and their speech drew me into their world. From afar the image of Ireland is of a land of soft greens and misty landscapes. French equally evokes the Ireland of mountains and rocky fields.
She has an amazing feel for the nuances of conversation in a rural community where relationships are honed over decades and grudges can be eternal. The “blow-in” is repeatedly told life is “grand”. He learns the Irish are not a soft people.
I was reminded of the memorable characters of Three Pines in the books by Louise Penny. Most of them have spent decades in the village.
French writes brilliantly of good intentions gone astray.
The Searcher is the second book I have read in the last year in which the sleuth was an American detective who, after losing a wife, moved to rural Europe to start a new life. Murder in Chianti by Camilla Trinchieri was a good book. The Searcher is a great book.