There are some authors who can make the ordinary something special. Tana French is such an author. Jan and I so enjoyed our time spent with Ms French’s new novel. It was a time well spent.
Cal, newly divorced and retired from the Chicago PD, moves to a remote village in Ireland looking for a quiet, peaceful life, a place that couldn’t be more different than Chicago. He’s life-weary and his relationship with his ex-wife and adult daughter is troubled.
As he renovates his dilapidated cottage he uses the isolation and physical labor as a way to heal. But there’s no privacy in a small village, and, in fact, Cal misses human interaction. He begins to meet his neighbors at the local watering hole and also befriends a local boy, Trey, who is from the wrong side of the tracks and has a secret of his own. It’s a friendship that benefits both, and it was wonderful and heartwarming to watch their friendship blossom as Trey helps with the work on his house, and Cal teaches him new skills. Cal is a true Renaissance man with many skills but those skills are tempered with compassion and goodness.
Trey has a rough home life and a beloved brother, Brendan, who has disappeared without a trace. Trey knows Cal is a retired PO and begs Cal to help locate him. As with most small towns, secrets run deep, and as Cal begins to uncover them, he receives subtle threats that eventually become not-so-subtle. Unsettling things begin to happen in the community and the good ‘ole boy camaraderie in the local pub has an undercurrent. The growing sense of tension and unease that eventually explodes is the type of suspense I love in literary fiction.
I enjoy the Dublin Murder Squad series but this was a terrific, well-written, atmospheric standalone. Few authors can write this type of suspense as well as Tana French. I particularly love the type of slow burn where I’m privy to the daily routines and the private thoughts and feelings of the MC. I loved everything about this story: the setting, the colorful characters, and the growing tension.
I often look for meaning in a book’s title and in this case it’s very fitting. Does Cal find what he’s searching for? I won’t say, but I loved the ending and found it to be perfect and satisfying.
· This was a buddy read with Marialyce and we both found it a pleasure to immerse ourselves in such brilliant writing and character development.
Can you really escape who and what you are or are you ever tied into the person you have become be it through life experiences or what path you have chosen to pursue? For Cal Hooper, his plan is to escape all the things that made him Cal, his family, his life in the States, and most of all the police detective he once was are things he seems to be running from. Then life, in his new Irish village intervenes and Cal finds himself pulled into a direction he thought he had left behind.
Cal meets a young boy, Trey, bought up rough being one of many children whose father is absent, and whose beloved brother is missing or so Trey thinks. Cal finds himself pulled into the orbit of Trey all while becoming friends with the locals, especially one named Mart. However, Cal is the outsider, and as he tries to fit in, he realizes that this bucolic town and mountains is not what he thought it to be. For underneath runs something evil that has taken a hold of the town and entwines itself into the people What Cal was hoping to escape now finds him even though he believed himself to be tucked away into peace and security. One can run but they really can’t hide.
This was a wonderfully written story so captured the wit and the supposed joi du vive of the Irish people. The town is just the place where so many of us might wish to reside, its smallness and hail fellow well met atmosphere makes for a place where one feels they are an integral part of its very life’s blood. However, as the author so deftly points out, there is no place that is totally immune from the ills of today and though we might search, just as Cal did, we will never find that spot where all is perfect.
Jan and I so enjoyed this story. It was simply told and yet bore so much in the telling that we could relate to. The writing was enticing, drawing the reader into its story and as we became more entrenched in the happenings, we realized that life is never simple no matter where we live.
and here’s the author:
TanaFrench is the author of In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place, The Trespasser and The Witch Elm. Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family.