The Searcher: A Novel - book cover
  • Publisher : Penguin Books
  • Published : 02 Nov 2021
  • Pages : 464
  • ISBN-10 : 0735224676
  • ISBN-13 : 9780735224674
  • Language : English

The Searcher: A Novel

A New York Times Bestseller
A New York Times and NPR Best Book of 2020

"This hushed suspense tale about thwarted dreams of escape may be her best one yet...its own kind of masterpiece." --Maureen Corrigan, The Washington Post

A "taut, chiseled and propulsive" (Vogue) new novel from the bestselling mystery writer who "is in a class by herself." (The New York Times)

Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic 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 when a local kid whose brother has gone missing arm-twists him into investigating, Cal uncovers layers of darkness beneath his picturesque retreat, and starts to realize that even small towns shelter dangerous secrets.

"One of the greatest crime novelists writing today" (Vox) weaves a masterful, atmospheric tale of suspense, asking what we sacrifice in our search for truth and justice, and what we risk if we don't.

Editorial Reviews

A Most Anticipated Book in
The New York Times | Cosmopolitan | Buzzfeed | Bustle | E! News | Parade | The Washington Post | Vox | Entertainment Weekly | TIME | Vogue | Parade | CrimeReads | The Week | New York Post | The Millions | PopSugar | Kirkus | Publishers Weekly Top 10

"The west of Ireland looked good to Cal Hooper on the internet. But now that he's living there, the rugged beauty of the region overwhelms him, as it will anyone reading Tana French's The Searcher, an audacious departure for this immensely talented author… Not to be missed." -Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Tana French is… like a poet. She writes beautifully…If you haven't read her yet, I really highly recommend that you do." -Harlan Coben

"Taut, chiseled and propulsive." -Vogue

"French's writing here is on fire. Eerie and nuanced and spellbinding." -Fresh Air

"French avoids the fireworks of conventional crime fiction, instead taking a classic setup-the lone outsider revealing the dark side of a small town-and imbuing it with simmering menace. There's also an unexpectedly moving friendship and storytelling so atmospheric you can practically smell the peat bogs." -People

"The perfect cold-weather escape…French's writing style is so unhurried and pleasurable…and every page smells and sounds like Ireland. At a time when travel is impossible and we're spending more time at home, staying safe, it's thrilling to be transported to another place entirely, gripped by suspense and a sense of danger as I turn the pages in my cozy lair." -Glamour

"Nuanced and compelling." -The New Yorker

"Thriller mastermind Tana French's . . . work is as consistently thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is entertaining...[In The Searcher] French finds interesting angles and dynamics, and her cast is, as always, wonderfully drawn." -The Los Angeles Times

"Vivid and poetic." -Associated Press

"French takes this standalone novel at a measured pace, easing readers into Cal's quiet life before the thrills unravel."-TIME


"The Searcher feels different from French's previous books-there's a sparseness to the setting that contrasts with the bustle of the Dublin Murder Squad, or even the gathered family in The Witch Elm-but is no less addictive; the pages practically turn themselves." -The Seattle Times

"A creepy slow burn that focuses just as much on the central characters' inner lives as on the mystery at the heart of the story . . .packed full of twists, turns, and shocking reveals." ...

Short Excerpt Teaser



When Cal comes out of the house, the rooks have got hold of something. Six of them are clustered on the back lawn, amid the long wet grass and the yellow-flowered weeds, jabbing and hopping. Whatever the thing is, it's on the small side and still moving.


Cal sets down his garbage bag of wallpaper. He considers getting his hunting knife and putting the creature out of its suffering, but the rooks have been here a lot longer than he has. It would be pretty impertinent of him to waltz in and start interfering with their ways. Instead he eases himself down to sit on the mossy step next to the trash bag.


He likes the rooks. He read somewhere that they're smart as hell; they can get to know you, bring you presents even. For three months now he's been trying to butter them up with scraps left on the big stump towards the bottom of the garden. They watch him trudge up and down through the grass, from the ivy-loaded oak where they have their colony, and as soon as he's a safe distance away they swoop down to squabble and comment raucously over the scraps; but they keep a cynical eye on Cal, and if he tries to move closer they're gone, back into the oak to jeer down at him and drop twigs on his head. Yesterday afternoon he was in his living room, stripping away the mildewed wallpaper, and a sleek mid-sized rook landed on the sill of the open window, yelled what was obviously an insult, and then flapped off laughing.


The thing on the lawn twists wildly, shaking the long grass. A big daddy rook jumps closer, aims one neat ferocious stab of his beak, and the thing goes still.


Rabbit, maybe. Cal has seen them out there in the early mornings, nibbling and dashing in the dew. Their holes are somewhere in his back field, down by the broad copse of hazels and rowans. Once his firearm license comes through, he's planning to see if he remembers what his grandpa taught him about skinning game, and if the mule-tempered broadband will deign to find him a recipe for rabbit stew. The rooks crowd in, pecking hard and bracing their feet to jerk out bites of flesh, more of them zooming down from the tree to jostle in on the action.


Cal watches them for a while, stretching out his legs and rolling one shoulder in circles. Working on the house is using muscles he'd forgotten he had. He finds new aches every morning, although some of that is likely from sleeping on a cheap mattress on the floor. Cal is too old and too big for that, but there's no point in bringing good furniture into the dust and damp and mold. He'll buy that stuff once he has the house in shape, and once he figures out where you buy it-all that was Donna's department. Meanwhile, he doesn't mind the aches. They satisfy him; along with the blisters and thickening calluses, they're solid, earned proof of what his life is now.


It's headed into the long cool September stretch of evening, but cloudy enough that there's no trace of a sunset. The sky, dappled in subtle gradations of gray, goes on forever; so do the fields, coded in shades of green by their different uses, divided up by sprawling hedges, dry-stone walls and the odd narrow back road. Away to the north, a line of low mountains rolls along the horizon. Cal's eyes are still getting used to looking this far, after all those years of city blocks. Landscape is one of the few things he knows of where the reality doesn't let you down. The West of Ireland looked beautiful on the internet; from right smack in the middle of it, it looks even better. The air is rich as fruitcake, like you should do more with it than just breathe it; bite off a big mouthful, maybe, or rub handfuls of it over your face.


After a while the rooks slow down, getting towards the end of their meal. Cal stands up and picks up the trash bag again. The rooks cock smart, instant glances at him and, when he starts down the garden, heave themselves into the air and flap their full bellies back to their tree. He hauls the bag down to a corner beside the creeper-covered tumbledown stone shed, pausing along the way to check out the rooks' dinner. Rabbit, all right, a young one, although barely recognizable now.


He leaves the trash bag with the rest and heads back to the house. He's almost there when the rooks kick off, jostling leaves and yelling cuss words at something. Cal doesn't turn around or break stride. He says very softly through his teeth, as he closes the back door behind him, "Motherfucker."


For the last week and a half, someone has been watching Cal. Probably longer, but he had his mind on his own business and he took for granted, like anyone would have a right to do amid all this empty space,...