Cal Hooper is a very likable and strong protagonist. Not long divorced from his wife whom he loves, he is still reeling from the failure of his marriage. He is a father to an adult daughter who lives on the American west coast. A twenty-five year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, the dynamics of his job had changed enough that he wanted out. This coincided with the end of his marriage. So, he up sticks and moves to Western Ireland. He bought a tumbledown old house outside of a village and spends his day trying to make it habitable once more. A gargantuan task.
One day while trying to repair an old desk that was in the house, a child comes to his yard. He has felt for some days that he was being watched, and now he knows who was watching him. Taciturn and skittish, Trey begins helping him with the desk. Cal is used to human behavior and he realizes that Trey wants something from him, he will just have to wait and see what that might be….
Eventually, after several days where Cal takes Trey fishing, hunting, and working on his old house, Trey finally asks Cal to look for his older brother, who went missing months ago.This novel had three of my vital requirements in a novel: strong characterization, appealing setting, and a compelling plot.
Set in a rural location in the West of Ireland, it evoked misty green fields, the smoke from peat fires, birdsong, and fresh air.
Cal Hooper, the protagonist, was a great character. Strong in moral ethics, worldly-wise, and seeking sanctuary from a life that has been less than kind, he exudes a kind of calm, quiet strength. He is an outsider, a newcomer, who is under constant invisible scrutiny by his neighbours. And hey, he drinks my favourite Irish beer!
Trey Reddy was a character that pulled at your heart-strings. I loved the way Cal bonded with Trey in a fatherly/friendly manner. Both characters were damaged, yet together they formed a bond that I am confident will eventually heal them both.
The plot was a page turner which divulged that even the most bucolic places often hide dark and nasty underbellies. The masterful and eloquent writing evoked the menace and unease which contrasted greatly with the tame and idyllic setting. The book spoke to how justice is not always clear-cut, and that sometimes rural justice is a different kettle of fish altogether…
There was one shocking plot revelation that surprised me as much as it did the protagonist, Cal Hooper.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and though I know it is a stand-alone novel, would love to see the characters of Cal Hooper and Trey Reddy return in later books.
Highly recommended!I borrowed a digital copy of this novel from my local public library via the Libby app.
Published: October 6, 2020 Publisher: Viking/Penguin
Born in Burlington, Vermont, Tana French is an American-Irish writer and theatrical actress. She is the author of The Searcher, 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.
Visit Tana French’s official website.