In 2020, I was super excited to read a Tana French book I found in my (virtual) bookshelf that I thought I had not yet read. To my disappointment, it was just one of her (in my opinion) lesser novels, that now, a mere one year later, I have forgotten the ending to again. This time, I made sure that this wasn’t a repeat. EIther way, I’m sure that this would have been a memorable book because it is the most different from all other books I’ve read from her.
Instead of being set in the Dublin Murder Squad universe, this one is set in a far more rural place, and the main character is not Irish. He is American. Retired AMERICAN detective Cal Hooper moves to rural Ireland and spends his days repairing his dilapidated farmhouse, fishing, taking walks, and talking to his nosy neighbors. Until he meets a kid (Trey) that would reel him back into a life, a calling that he was trying to leave behind. So Cal is one of those archetypal troubled detectives whose relationship was ruined because of work. He is a bit of boomer (though actually Gen X in age), but inherently kind with a strong moral code.
I enjoyed the mystery itself, although it was not really that hard to figure it out. The story moved slowly and I quite enjoyed that. I enjoyed getting to know the side characters and the little town. I particularly liked fierce little Trey and felt so sad for them by the end. The book had some things to say about the poison that infects “charming” small towns where young people are leaving and moving up takes so much effort.
All in all, this was an interesting and different sort of story from French’s usual Murder Club mysteries. I quite liked this one and I’m excited that I have one more stand-alone book by her that I haven’t read yet.