Cover Image: The Hunter

The Hunter

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Set in the remote Irish village of Ardnakelty, Tana French’s novel, The Hunter, returns to the characters in The Searchers. Cal Hooper, an ex-cop on early retirement from Chicago PD, spends his time refinishing and selling furniture. While he has an adult daughter still in America, Cal’s two significant relationships in his new home are with Lena, an attractive widow and teenager Trey Reddy. In this static community where newcomers are viewed with amusement, derision and scorn, Lena and Trey may be locals but they are outsiders for different reasons, and perhaps that explains why they form a close friendship.

Years ago, Trey’s ne’er-do-well father, Johnny left his wife and children. They struggled with poverty alone, but then a further blow arrived when Trey’s older brother, Brendan, disappeared two years earlier. There are various rumours about Trey’s brother, but the truth, known by Lena, Cal, and Trey, is that Brendan is dead. For the past few years, Lena and Cal have assumed almost parental roles for Trey; they love and care for the girl, feed her and offer her shelter. But things begin to go terribly wrong when Johnny returns.

Johnny, always a charmer, appears to be down on his luck and that’s certainly a good enough explanation for his return. Trey’s mother is less-than-thrilled to see Johnny return, and while she lacks the energy or spare emotion to eject him, she acts as though he’s foul weather one must endure until he leaves. It’s clear to Cal that Johnny has returned for a reason, and that reason soon seems to emerge.

Johnny tells all the local men that he ran into a man named Rushborough in England who had roots back in Ardnkelty. According to Johnny, Rushborough is a rich rube laced with nostalgia for his Irish roots, and hand-in-hand with that nostalgia is the legend, passed to Rushborough by his Granny, that there’s gold in the region.

Johnny aware that the region is poor with no hope of an economic upswing, voices his con to the local landowners to fleece this man with stories of gold in the local mountains. Soon the locals are regaling Rushborough, a “plastic Paddy,” with the sort of nonsense they roll out for the tourists. Johnny’s plan is that each man should put 300 into the pot to buy gold, and then plant it in the rivers as part of an elaborate con. Then, according to Johnny, Rushborough will buy up the land. One man, Mart has a cynical view of Johnny’s plan:

“This is the best entertainment that’s come to town in years. It’d almost be worth throwing in the few bob, just to have a front row seat.”

“Get Netflix,” Cal says. “Cheaper.”

While Rushborough appears to swallow the tales of leprechauns, there are times when his mask slips, and Cal thinks Rushborough “has a face that would make any sensible man want to walk away.” The situation becomes increasingly complicated as the locals, sucked deeper and deeper into Johnny’s plan, dream of all the wealth that awaits them. Mart takes a philosophical view of Johnny’s promises. He says that the local men are depressed and have little to distract them from their abysmal prospects. But now they have a “bad case of allurement.”

And then along comes the bold Johnny, prancing in here with his stories about film stars and millionaires and gold.

Cal gets involved mainly to keep an eye on Trey and as the story develops, Cal realises that he’s badly underestimated Trey and her desire for revenge.

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3.5 rounded up

Thanks for the ARC Netgalley! I ended up using a Libro credit for this one because I loved Roger Clark’s narration in the first book in this series, which was just as stellar here. I didn’t find this mystery as compelling as its predecessor’s, but it was nice being back in Cal’s world.

Cal is still enjoying his quiet Irish countryside life after retiring from the Chicago PD. He has a dog, a great girlfriend, and loves his time with Trey Reddy (a local kid who looks up to him and helps with building.) Then Trey’s absentee father comes back into town with a get rich quick scheme and is trying to pull the wool over the community’s eyes. Cal wants to protect Trey no matter the cost, but Trey is angry and wants revenge. The two are at odds when they find a dead body in town connected to it all.

French is so skilled at writing atmospheric Irish locations and flawed, real relationships. While this one was an even slower burn than “The Searcher,” I enjoyed being back with Cal and Trey. I love their dynamic and would without a doubt read more books about them. I just found the mystery itself a little bland - and also not entering the book until over halfway. But if you liked the first book in this series, you’ll love being reunited with this characters.

✨Trigger Warnings: Murder, Child Abuse, Animal Cruelty

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I'm woefully late to reviewing this, but I did enjoy it! I haven't read Tana French in years but liked her Dublin Murder Squad series well enough, so I requested this one not realizing it was a sequel. I've had friends tell me they didn't care much for Cal Hooper in the first book and that the pacing is too slow; this features Trey more than Cal and clips along toward the end (though it drags a touch at the beginning as French establishes a sense of place), so those who didn't enjoy the first one might like the second. Oof; what a village...

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I did not realize this was a follow-up to The Searcher, which I shamefully have not read yet! Review to come.

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One of my goals this year was to put down books that do not appeal to me, and so I have to admit that I did not finish Tana French's The Hunter. I loved all of her Dublin Murder Squad books, and even the first Cal Hooper book, but really struggled with this one.

I had a hard time with the pace of this book - it was slow, and not in an intricate detailed way, but a slow in a "nothing really is happening" sort of way. Coupled with the depressing state of the town, individual marriages/couples, politics... I just struggled to want to pick this book up and focus on it. As a dedicated reader, that is saying a lot.

To be fair, I did not get to the actual mystery before I abandoned this book so some of these issues may have cleared up had I persevered more, but life is too short to read books you don't connect with. I may pick this book up at some point in the future, but for now, this is it. I have a hard time giving a star rating for books I did not finish but since I have to give one in order to leave this review I am going with a 2 star rating because Tana French is a good writer, and the writing in this book was still true to her style. I just couldn't get into the plot.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for this eARC. All opinions are my own.

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This book makes you feel immersed in Ireland. Tana French always delivers a great story with complex but realistic characters and rich atmosphere. This book is great for those that enjoy a good build up and plenty of back story. This is not a book that is constant action and while there is violence it is not intense. Read this when you want a good book that is rich in language and easy to come back to if you have limited time to read.

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If you are looking to immerse yourself in the countryside of Ireland, you will enjoy this book. I imagine the audible version read by an Irish person would be excellent. In terms of action, not much to be had. 95% of the book is people talking about other people. I believe the author aims for atmosphere over action.. Thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

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This book hooked me in from the first chapter. I loved the character development and how the story progressed.

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Come for the complex interpersonal dynamics, clockwork plotting, and sharp dialogue, stay for the gorgeous descriptions of place and landscape. Another engrossing and all out enjoyable read from a master of tone.

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In a tiny Irish village, things are about to change. Cal, Lena, and Trey have settled in to a pleasant, quiet life, then Trey's father comes back from London along with a "buddy" and they are looking for gold. In this sequel to The Searcher, this quiet village is about to fall apart.

I loved the ambiance of the Irish village, French's descriptions and dialogue places the reader firmly in that town. The action builds so slowly, though, that I was bored at times. I almost stopped reading, but.....then about 1/2 way, things changed drastically. There were still moments that slowed the story down and fell into repetition, but over all this was a well written mystery. I think this will be a book that Tana French fans will love, but others will find slow and plodding.

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Tana French has yet to disappoint. I had though Cal Hooper's story in The Searcher was a standalone and I am very glad she chose to revisit Cal and Trey once more. Picking up a few years later when a now 15-year-old Trey's dad has blown back in from London and is causing trouble with what ultimately proves to be a deadly scheme for one man, The Hunter catches us up with how Cal and Trey are perceived by their small village in the West of Ireland. Ultimately, it highlights, once again, how far a village will go to protect their community and who is on the chopping block when it comes down to it. It's another fascinating story of community and vengeance and leaves me hoping we may get to catch with these characters once more.

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Even more than its excellent predecessor The Searcher, The Hunter is a tour-de-force of character development. Moving away from her beloved Dublin Squad series, author Tana French, focuses increasingly more on her characters and their setting than on the plot. This is not to say that the plot – featuring the return of Trey’s father Johnny and his “friend” Roushborough, their attempt to scam the inhabitants of Arknakelty, Roushborough’s murder, Cal's acceptance into the community, and a satisfying resolution to the mystery – is not engaging, for it is. However some readers will not appreciate the slow pace with which it unfolds. For me, the slow pace of the prose enhances the book. It’s not a novel to be read quickly nor is it for readers who care more about the number of books they read more than they care about their quality. But for readers who savor good literary craftsmanship as much or more than a fast-paced plot, The Hunter will more than satisfy. Highly recommended.

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The Hunter by Tana French is very different than the other of her books I’ve read, although I understand that this is the second featuring this character, Cal. The story focuses on Trey(Theresa), a fifteen year old girl who is being raised by her mother, her father having abandoned the family. This takes place in rural Ireland, where in some ways a situation like this is easier. Cal is a retired police officer from Chicago just looking for a simple life. He and Trey have been refurbishing old furniture and building new for several years. They have become friends, of a sort. They count on one another. Lena is a neighbor who has developed a relationship with Cal and so, with Trey. Trey spends the night at Lena’s sometimes when she can’t go home. Now, all of a sudden, Trey’s recalcitrant father, Johnny, shows up, touting a scheme, as is typical. She is nervous. Cal is nervous. Lena is nervous. This is an emotionally complex story with interesting ramifications.

Trey is a teenager. Enough said. The people in the village have begun to look upon Trey as his. She has built trust with them. It is complicated. Her older brother, Brendan, has been missing for a couple of years. What he got mixed up in she doesn’t know but she knows they killed and buried him. Who exactly she doesn’t know but she plans to extract revenge using Johnny and his scheme. She is clever and devious. A manipulator. Cal can’t keep up with her. She won’t tell him her plan and he can’t guess. It is a cleverly written book, not surprising for Tana French. It’s views of rural Ireland are not to be missed as she picks up the personality of the place subtlety. The characters are excellent, not right out there, though. The reader has to work for it. The story is a good one, repeated the world over in people that would rather scam than work. I highly recommend it. Thanks Tana French for an excellent read!

I was invited to read The Hunter by Penguin Group Viking. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #Netgalley #PenguinGroupViking #TanaFrench #TheHunter

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French has given us a follow-up to her first Cal Hooper book. In The Searcher we met Cal, a retired Chicago police detective who has moved to the Irish countryside. He’s now settled in and become a surrogate father to Trey, a wild, stubborn, teenage girl. When Trey’s absentee real father Johnny suddenly returns with a scheme to make money, Cal is instantly concerned. He cares for the girl and won’t let her life be turned upside down by Johnny’s machinations.

When a murder occurs, Cal feverishly works to keep Trey out of danger. But the girl has her own plans and often they don’t coincide with Cal’s efforts. She has one goal in mind and it drives her to make poor choices. Cal’s surrogate father role is endearing, though sometimes his actions are a little baffling. One can’t help but be fascinated by him and his desire to make a home in Ireland, amidst an array of colorful neighbors.

French is great at creating interesting, complicated characters. Her plot is complex and will keep readers guessing about what really happened. This sequel isn’t as strong as the first book, but still quite an engaging read.

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If you enjoyed reading The Searcher, this is your chance to reconnect with the characters in Ardnakelty, Ireland. Cal is presented with another dilemma when Trey's father, Johnny, returns home with the tale that there is gold on the land of the locals. Cal doesn't trust Johnny, Trey wants Johnny to leave, and the locals begin to believe Johnny's story. But things begin to fall apart and the town looks for a scapegoat and Cal tries to protect Trey. This book was a great read and hard to put down.

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Tana French is not Irish, yet she has captured their tone and their language as well as any native speaker. This second in this particular series of hers is her best yet. Although the American former police officer from Chicago may be the main character, all the others, and there are many, are fully fleshed out. When you finish the book, you know everyone in that town, as if you’ve lived there your entire life. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for this incredible read.

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This is a sequel to "The Searcher," a book that introduces ex-Chicago cop Cal Hooper who retired and moved to Ireland to find peace and work on his carpentry skills. "The Hunter" covers some of that background, but those wishing a fuller picture of the relationship between Cal and 15-year old Trey who comes into his life would benefit from reading that book first.

This latest book unfolds in a leisurely pace, which at times seemed a bit too leisurely to me. So much so that I didn't feel guilty about setting it aside periodically and dipping back into it. But when Trey's father returns into her life and brings a mysterious Englishman with him the pace picks up.

As with all of the author's works I've read she develops a real sense of place which is as authentic as the characters that inhabit it. For those who like their mysteries, this one holds true to the end and then breaks the leisurely pace with a headlong rush, which seemingly wraps up this book as well as its predecessor quite satisfactorily.

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THE SEARCHER was my least favorite Tana French book -- not bad, by any stretch, but I wondered why her focus had shifted to the quiet countryside after six thrilling Dublin detective novels and the weirder-than-I-remember WITCH ELM. If it was all to get us this book, it was worth it: French dispatches with the sloooow burn of that novel for a steady growing heat, like a hot summer that just won't break. THE HUNTER shows that her nose for moral ambiguity hasn't gone away and I guarantee you'll be shouting at the pages of this one as you also can't put it down.

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Tana French is an expert in making the mundane so compelling and has a suspenseful tension that builds throughout. This one was written a little different than her others as it is not in first person alternating characters but so great!

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I am a longtime Tana French fan. This latest effort feels incredibly unique, even moreso than its predecessor, The Searcher. As she gets deeper into her career, French is less and less concerned with the caper, and more with the deeper and pressing questions that have always been at the heart of her characters and work. What makes a community? What makes a family? French sinks deeper and deeper into her invented Ardnekelty community in this book, drawing out more and more history of the intersection of class, masculinity, and violence within it. I hope this series continues!

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